Mbalula defends Zuma, slams Mbeki for failing to distance himself from Cope formation

ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula. Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency (ANA)

ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula. Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Nov 27, 2023


ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula has, for the first time, spoken out in defence of former ANC president Jacob Zuma, saying his arrest should not have happened.

On the other hand, Mbalula blasted former president Thabo Mbeki for his alleged failure to distance himself from the formation of Congress of the People (Cope) after the Polokwane Conference when he was recalled as ANC president in 2007.

Mbalula, who addressed members of the South African National Civic Organisation National Conference in Durban at the weekend, said that as a former youth league leader, he was among the first to defend Zuma against a trial by the media.

“There are people who, for their own political agendas, have never liked Msholozi. We are here (today) with the Zuma saga because there were politics in the process. Some won’t like hearing this but it’s the truth. They will say I’m defending Zuma,” he said.

Mbalula said senior politicians, working with journalists, had reported that Zuma would be arrested in stages.

“We said: ‘Don’t try a comrade) through the media.’ … A group of editors met and (prematurely) discussed Jacob Zuma’s trial, including when he’s going to be arrested … We were being told about Zuma and how he was going to be getting arrested. Shocked, we asked: ‘Why is this comrade tried through the media?’ That’s the issue we asked at that time. (And) then we said that is unfair because that imposes what we call prejudice.”

Mbalula said Mbeki’s recall from office had given birth to the establishment of Cope after he was called the Dalai Lama of Cope, adding that Mbeki had failed to distance himself from the party.

“Mbeki wa sizalela iCOPE (gave birth), when he did not finish his term. Thabo Mbeki didn’t finish his term. After Polokwane, he left … Comrades formed Cope … Mbeki was called the Dalai Lama of Cope because he never denounced it; even when comrades formed it in his name. He never said: ‘I will not be associated with this.’ So, he was called Dalai Lama.”

Mbalula said law enforcement agencies, among them the Hawks, were being used to settle political scores.

He said the Hawks should stop their Hollywood-styled arrests as that gave the impression that people were guilty before that had gone through a fair trial.

“Others are using their positions to deal with those they don’t like. That’s why you need strong institutions, who don’t bend to political pressure … People arrested by Hawks, with a case going nowhere; arrested nje for iMovie … Don’t put any of the prosecutors under pressure. They must do their work without fear or favour and they must be supported.

“We are here with the Zuma saga because there were politics in the process … Being arrested doesn’t mean that you are guilty … We want strong organs of state that must be protected.”

The Star

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