President Cyril Ramaphosa and former president Jacob Zuma. Picture: Elmond Jiyane/GCIS
Cape Town - Pressure is mounting on the ANC, with DA leader Mmusi Maimane calling on President Cyril Ramaphosa to cancel a deal that would see the state pay millions of rand for former president Jacob Zuma’s legal fees.

Last year, the North Gauteng High Court ruled that the Presidency was not liable for the former president’s legal bills in matters relating to his 783 counts of fraud, corruption and racketeering.

In a written letter addressed to Ramaphosa, Maimane asked that the deal, which was struck more than a decade ago between Zuma and former president Thabo Mbeki, be cancelled.

“You can avoid this costly and unnecessary process by doing the right thing. Cancelling this deal with Zuma would represent a clean break with South Africa’s damaging and frustrating past.

“It would send a clear message to the nation that public money will no longer be abused for personal ends. It is time to put the country before your party,” wrote Maimane.

Ramaphosa is expected to meet Zuma to discuss a number of issues. Speculation is that the president will address recent controversial statements made by Zuma regarding the land issue.

Political analyst Ralph Mathekga said the meeting was necessary following his remarks on a number of issues, which he said were divisive and showed a lack of unity within the party.

“Jacob Zuma is divisive, there is no doubt about it. He is no longer the president of the ANC, but he is using his former position to get an audience. The reality is that he is not speaking messages of conciliation or unity.

“He speaks about racial matters in a manner that is quite worrying, and takes a radical position on things. These messages are clearly divisive. This is why there is a need for this meeting. He is almost like The Lone Ranger, saying whatever he wants to say out there, not accountable to anyone,” said Mathekga.

Last week, in a series of videos on his official Twitter account, Zuma gave his take on the issue of land expropriation. He said there was too much debate about land expropriation without compensation, and suggested that land should be nationalised.

He echoed a stance similar to that of the EFF on the land issue: that it would not support a section 25 constitutional amendment that doesn’t entail the nationalisation of all land.

Mathekga said: “You will find that Zuma’s position is different from that of Ramaphosa, who is trying to find the middle ground on this issue.

“It is quite confusing and frustrating. The message it sends to people out there is that the ANC is not clear and in agreement as to what to do with the land issue.”

The head of the Presidency, Zizi Kodwa, said there was nothing out of the ordinary about Ramaphosa and Zuma’s meeting. He rubbished claims that the meeting would address Zuma’s behaviour.

“There is nothing special about this meeting, except that the meeting follows a number of other meetings the president had with other former presidents.

“He has had similar meetings with former presidents Thabo Mbeki and Kgalema Motlanthe. It is just media speculation,” said Kodwa.

Political Bureau