S. Africa’s ex-president Zuma defiant as surrender deadline approaches

South Africa’s ex-president Jacob Zuma told hundreds of supporters camped outside his home on Sunday that his rights had been violated as a deadline approached to surrender to authorities.

“My constitutional rights have been violated” by judges at the country’s constitutional court, said Zuma, who has been sentenced to 15 months in prison for contempt of court after repeatedly refusing to testify against corruption investigators.

His supporters have vowed to make South Africa ungovernable if he is imprisoned.

After Zuma’s conviction, the South African court nevertheless agreed to consider his request to withdraw the warrant.

A surrender deadline was set to expire on Sunday, but 79-year-old Zuma has shown no sign of surrendering.

In a show of force, loyalists dressed in African National Congress (ANC) regalia have been outside the Nkandla homestead of their embattled leader in Kwa-Zulu Natal province for weeks.

“When I saw the police here, I wondered how they get to me, how they get through all these people,” Zuma said as he continued to mock the South African authorities.

“If (police minister) Bheki Cele comes here to arrest uBaba (Zuma), he should start with us,” supporter Lindokuhle Maphalala told AFP.

The protesters vowed to protect Zuma and called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to resign.

“We are here to say that Ramaphosa must resign. Must resign,” said a visibly angry loyalist. “From Monday we will make the country ungovernable.”

Police, with orders to arrest Zuma if necessary, were stationed across the province on Sunday to contain the crowd that descended on Nkandla.

If Zuma doesn’t come forward, the police will have three days to arrest him.

Cathleen Powell, a South African law professor, told AFP that the decision to hear Zuma’s challenge did not suspend the Constitutional Court’s ruling.

Over the weekend, the ruling ANC sent representatives to speak with Zuma at his home, which was being renovated while he was president, at a cost of about 20 million euros ($24 million) for taxpayers.

The party could face a serious political crisis between those who support Zuma and others loyal to Ramaphosa, who has campaigned for a pledge to fight corruption.

Zuma has also been accused of being involved in a bribery affair going back more than 20 years.

He is said to have received more than four million rand, about €235,000 at current rates, from French defense group Thales, which has been awarded a contract worth a total of about €2.8 billion.


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