ANC KZN leader says Jacob Zuma’s medical parole is relief for party
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Durban - The provincial secretary of the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal, Mdumiseni Ntuli, says the release of former President Jacob Zuma on medical parole is a great relief for the governing party.
Ntuli said the relief was not only for the ANC in the province, but for the entire governing party as Zuma was a factor across the board.
Ntuli said this on Tuesday while speaking to Independent Media in reaction to the decision by the Department of Correctional Services to grant Zuma parole to finish the remainder of his 15 months sentence for contempt of court at home.
The ANC in KwaZulu-Natal has been vocal asking for Zuma to be granted a presidential pardon, arguing that his jailing was going to divide the party.
“It’s not a relief only to the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal, it's a relief to the ANC as a whole. I know that some people like to apportion Zuma only to a certain province where he comes from, but the fact of the matter is that he is a factor in the whole organisation,” Ntuli said.
Ntuli added that Zuma’s release left them “minus one problem” as they would not have to face a barrage of questions about his jailing from the masses.
“This is minus one problem as from now we will not have to answer questions about his jailing when campaigning. Anyone who can say he is not relieved will not be telling the truth.”
Still on parole, the traditional leader of the Zuma clan in Mpendle in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands has welcomed Zuma’s release, saying it was a long-overdue move.
Inkosi Simphiwe Zuma said they had always been clear as a clan he was not supposed to be jailed in the first place, and now that he was out on medical parole, they were relieved.
The traditional leader made these remarks during an interview with Independent Media on Tuesday.
“Of course, we welcome his release on medical parole. In fact, that is what we have always wanted. We wanted him to be released,” he said.
Inkosi Zuma said once Zuma was back at his Nkandla home, they would, on a date that had yet to be determined, conduct a traditional ceremony to report to the ancestors that he had been freed, albeit with conditions.
The traditional leader had harsh words for Zuma’s opponents, saying the jailing of the former leader was the work of outside forces who manipulated state organs to get even with Zuma for trying to correct the economic imbalances of the past during his nine-year presidency.
Zuma’s release on parole has not gone without controversy as on Tuesday as the DA and AfriForum vowed to legally challenge the decision in court if the reasons given for his release were not satisfactory.
Meanwhile, despite the medical parole, Zuma is still in hospital under the care of the military health services. On Tuesday the spokesperson of the Jacob Zuma Foundation, Mzwanele Manyi, said Zuma had met with his legal team while in hospital to discuss “a wide range of issues”.
This comes as there is still disagreement between him and the state whether the medical note from the military health services is enough to back up his claim that he is sick.
On Tuesday, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) announced that the previously scheduled court hearing set down for Thursday and Friday this week would be postponed by consent of all parties involved.
Last week Manyi said the sick note from the military health services, an arm of the state, was enough, and should not be questioned by the NPA.
Manyi said the matter was ready for the court, and if the NPA was not convinced, it must argue that matter before the Pietermaritzburg High Court, where Judge Piet Koen issued the order when the matter was heard last month. The case is related to the arms deal corruption trial, in which Zuma is accused of pocketing millions of rand in bribes.
When it was supposed to start, Zuma applied to have the lead prosecutor in the matter, advocate Billy Downer SC, recuse himself, arguing that he had compromised himself by leaking information to the media, sharing sensitive details about the case with CIA spies, among other accusations.
However, Zuma fell sick and the matter had to be postponed, hence he is arguing that the note from the military doctors is enough to prove his claim.
Mthunzi Mhaga, the spokesperson for the NPA, said the upcoming postponement would allow their doctors to consider the note presented by Zuma.
“We confirm that the special plea hearing relating to Mr Zuma's case will be postponed virtually, by consent of all the parties, to September 20 and 21, to enable the state-appointed medical team of specialists to consider the medical evidence in co-operation with Mr Zuma’s medical team.
“In view of the medical reports being confidential, no further comment will be issued as all issues relating thereto will be aired in court at the next hearing,” Mhaga said.