'Boisterous' support for Jacob Zuma at OR Tambo airport as he returns from Cuba
Johannesburg - A group of boisterous supporters of former president Jacob Zuma gathered at the international arrivals terminal at the OR Tambo International Airport to welcome him back from Cuba, where he has been receiving medical treatment.
Zuma is expected to land before midday and briefly address his gathered supporters.
Former North West premier and former ANC provincial chairperson Supra Mahumapelo, Des van Rooyen, formerly in Zuma's Cabinet minister, and the governing party's Free State provincial chairperson, Sam Mashinini, were among those awaiting the former president.
uMkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) leader Kebby Maphatsoe, Zuma's spokesperson Vukile Mthabela and BLF leader Andile Mngxitama are also attending the event.
ANC NEC and former Zuma's cabinet ministers Joe Maswanganyi and Bongani Bongo, who is also facing corruption charges, were also present to support their former boss.
ANC MP Mervyn Dicks, MKMVA spokesperson Carl Niehaus and ANC Youth League Free State provincial secretary Reagan Booysen are among the crowds gathered at the airport.
Organisers warned Zuma supporters to maintain high discipline.
"This thing is not about you, it's about uBaba (Zuma). We're not going to allow any other side shows," the singing crowd was warned.
Zuma missed his Kwazulu-Natal High Court appearance to face fraud, corruption and money laundering charges prompting Judge Dhaya Pillay to issue a warrant of arrest against the former ANC president, which was stayed until his next appearance on May 5.
Said Niehaus at the airport on Saturday: "We will gather at OR Tambo International Airport to welcome him back and also express our strong support to that warrant of arrest that has been issued and the manner president Zuma has been treated".
Former president #jacobzuma returns to #southafrica today after receiving medical treatment in Cuba. ANC supporters have gathered at OR Tambo Airport to welcome him. Video:@nokuthulambatha97 @AfriNewsAgency pic.twitter.com/Yy5Sl5pgO5— IOL News (@IOL) February 22, 2020
Maphatsoe said there was nothing factional in welcoming Zuma.
"The ANC issued a decision that anyone who wants to support comrade Jacob Zuma can go there on their own so there is no faction that is here," he said.
"Its people, members of the ANC, citizens and MKMVA comrades because of their resolution and continue to support Jacob Zuma. There are no factions that are here," Maphatsoe insisted.
The gathering was organised by a group called the Gauteng Radical Economic Transformation (RET) President Zuma Support Group, which issued a statement earlier this week urging “thousands” of supporters to welcome Zuma at the airport.