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Opposition parties hit back after Zuma's speech at KZN rally

The parties say saying taking the president to court is not a contradiction of democracy, but freedom at work.

FILE: President Jacob Zuma. Picture: Supplied

JOHANNESBURG - Opposition parties have hit back at President Jacob Zuma’s speech at a rally in KwaZulu-Natal, saying taking him to court is not a contradiction of democracy, but freedom at work.

Zuma used a victory rally in the eDumbe Local Municipality in KwaZulu-Natal at the weekend to take a swipe at those criticising him, saying he’s not afraid of prison as he spent 10 years behind bars during apartheid.

He also accused opposition parties of using South Africa’s judiciary to fight political battles.

This was the president’s first address to South Africans since the release of the Public Protector’s state of capture report that revealed he failed to act on a number of damning allegations.

The president says the space for democratic debate in South Africa has now been taken over by the courts.

“That’s misrepresentation of democracy. We must debate issues, debate them.”

The Economic Freedom Fighter (EFF)’s Mbuyiseni Ndlozi says Zuma is confused.

“He must rest assured that we’re not going to wallow in his confusion of thinking there’s a contradiction between popular will and the court.”

United Democratic Movement (UDM) leader Bantu Holomisa says the president must have his day in court.

“He’s nothing else but a hyena, looting the state resources with his friends from outside the country.”

Meanwhile, former African National Congress (ANC) Chief Whip Mathole Motshekga has been the latest member within the ANC’s ranks to call for Zuma to step down.

Motshekga has written an open letter where he has supported Secretary General Gwede Mantashe’s principle of appealing to the conscience of the president.

Motshekga previously formed part of the small task team that coordinated the recalling of former President Thabo Mbeki in 2008.

He says the ruling party cannot accept collective responsibility for the actions of the president and all those implicated in the Public Protector's State of Capture report.

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)