Edward Zuma said his father, former president Jacob Zuma, who is due in the Durban High Court on Friday to face charges of corruption, is a victim of a witch-hunt.
Edward is part of the “Defenders of Radical Economic Transformation”, a group that has organised a march from the Durban University of Technology’s (DUT) Steve Biko campus to Albert Park where a night vigil will be held on Thursday evening ahead of Zuma’s court appearance.
Albert Park is a walk away from the Durban High Court where Zuma will face 16 charges relating to 783 payments, which, it is claimed, he received in connection with the controversial multibillion-rand arms deal.
Edward told reporters that his supporters “correctly” believe in his father’s innocence.
“They are justified in the manner they are gathering as we all believe that there’s a witch-hunt against the former president and it is from all corners and all levels,” he said.
When asked how his father was ahead the court appearance, Edward said: “I would want to believe that as an innocent man, he is definitely not worried, though I’ve not spoken to him for some time.”
March through CBD
March coordinator Hlanganani Dlomo told News24 that the group had decided to march because Zuma “is the father of radical economic transformation (RET)”.
He said as the “Defenders of RET” they were 100% behind Zuma.
“We are defending him because he is the president who introduced and founded RET,” he said.
Dlomo said he believed that Zuma was innocent.
He said they would march from Steve Biko campus to all DUT residences in the Durban CBD until they reach Albert Park where the vigil will be held.
Less than 100 students had begun singing pro-Zuma songs outside the meeting point ahead of the march on Thursday.
Police are monitoring the gathering.
12 counts of fraud
The charges against Zuma were dropped in 2009, however embattled National Prosecuting Authority boss Shaun Abrahams announced on March 16 that Zuma would be prosecuted for one count of racketeering, two counts of corruption, one count of money laundering and 12 counts of fraud.
Abrahams said he was of the view that there are reasonable prospects of a successful prosecution of Zuma.
The charges were withdrawn just before Zuma was sworn in for his first term as president of the country.
Arms deal manufacturer Thint is expected to appear alongside Zuma on Friday.
The National Interfaith of South Africa, in partnership with the Commission for Religious Affairs, on Wednesday unveiled activities it had planned ahead of Zuma’s court appearance.
Edward Zuma, son of former president Jacob Zuma. (Felix Dlangamandla, Netwerk24)
‘Mother of all prayers’
“[W]e would lead a march from King Dinizulu Park (formerly known as Botha Park) to the Durban High Court on Friday morning,” Bishop Bheki Ngcobo told reporters at an earlier press briefing.
He said the march would start at 07:00.
Ngcobo said the “mother of all prayers” would be held outside court on Friday before the start of court proceedings.
He revealed that they were expecting not less than 100 buses to transport people to the vigil and march. He said the “Zuma supporters” would be coming from across the country.
Marches will be ‘peaceful’
Bishop Vusi Dube said police would monitor both the vigil and the march.
Delangokubona Business Forum national chair Thabani Mzulwini also said the organisation would be part of the activities in support of Zuma.
“We support him because of his theory that the economy of the country must be returned to black people,” he said.
Muzi Hlengwa of the National Funeral Practitioners Association of South Africa said the association would also be part of the activities on Thursday and Friday.
Black First Land First (BLF) leader Andile Mngxitama said: “The processes to support Zuma [will] be peaceful.”
KwaZulu-Natal police spokesperson Colonel Thembeka Mbhele confirmed to News24 that police would be deployed to monitor the night vigil and march to the court on Friday.
“There would be a maximum deployment of police to make sure that there is no disorder during the vigil and march,” she said.