Former president Jacob Zuma. Picture: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Durban - The damning evidence presented against former president Jacob Zuma at the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture would not deter his supporters from rallying behind him, said veteran Struggle activist Carl Niehaus.

Niehaus, who is a senior member of the uMkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA), said in a telephone interview on Thursday that he was going to attend the night vigil, and that he would later attend a gathering outside the Pietermaritzburg High Court to be addressed by Zuma after his appearance.

Niehaus said the testimony presented at the Zondo commission had yet to be tested and would not weaken his support for Zuma.

Zuma and his co-accused French arms company Thales are facing fraud and corruption charges in relation to the controversial arms deal.

They have both filed affidavits in the Durban High Court seeking a permanent stay of prosecution.

Former minerals resources minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi told the Zondo commission this week that Zuma had sold his presidential authority to the controversial Gupta family who had taken control of state-owned entities.

Niehaus said Ramatlhodi’s evidence, which was later backed up by his former adviser, Mahlodi Muofhe, would not stop MKMVA members and Zuma supporters in general from turning up at court in large numbers to support him as they were convinced that he would not get a free and fair trial.

“The support is not being premised on whatever is being said by any individual who gives evidence at the commission on state capture.

“Anyone can come to the commission and tell whatever story they want to tell, and at the end of the day those stories have to be subjected to cross-­examination.

“Therefore we are not going to jump to conclusions because at this stage these are only allegations,” he said. They would wait for the commission’s findings before reaching a conclusion.

“What is being said at the commission, for now, has no bearing on our support for Zuma. At this stage we are working on the belief that everyone including former president Zuma is afforded the right to be considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law,” he said.

He added that it was common knowledge that Zuma had a relationship with the Guptas, who were his son’s business partners. He said the MKMVA also had business relationships with Gupta-associated companies, but “we are not captured”.

“As long as those relationships are above board, legal and not corrupt (then they are okay),” said Niehaus.

Political Bureau