Former president of South Africa Jacob Zuma has addressed crowds of supporters, many of whom have been camping outside his Nkandla homestead since Saturday.
Zuma who was visibly dancing and singing ‘Mshiniwam’ (bring my machine gun), spoke on the deadline set by the constitutional court to hand himself over to start a 15-month jail term.
He tells his supporters that he had sent letters to the court pleading the case that his sentencing “was wrong to ask and if they can reduce it or strike it out”.
“You have given the nation hope that no one will ever be mistreated or abused under this democratic dispensation” the former South African President told the cheering crowd of supporters.
The supporters, in their hundreds had remained camped outside Zuma’s home until Sunday morning when the former leader addressed them. Some supporters vowed to render the country ungovernable if Zuma ended up jailed. Some on Sunday were singing, “Don’t rush the war, war kills!”
After historically sentencing him to a 15-month term for contempt of court, South Africa’s constitutional court agreed to hear Zuma’s challenge to rescind the order.
A surrender deadline was set to run out on Sunday but after refusing to testify in a corruption trial, Zuma has shown no sign he will hand himself in to the authorities.
“If (Police Minister) Bheki Cele comes here to arrest uBaba (Zuma) he must start with us,” a protester Lindokuhle Maphalala told AFP.
Vowing to protect Zuma against jail time, other protesters called for President Cyril Ramaphosa to step down.
“We are here to say Ramaphosa must step down. Must step down”, a visibly angry loyalist said. “As from Monday we will make the country ungovernable.”
Police, under orders to arrest Zuma if necessary, were stationed across the province on Sunday in a bid to control the crowds descending on Nkandla.
If the 79-year-old fails to turn himself in, the police is expected to be given a further three days to arrest him in what will be an unprecendented move in the history of South Africa’s politics.