Former president Jacob Zuma File picture: ANA

Durban - Former president Jacob Zuma on Wednesday issued a stern warning apparently aimed at the SACP, saying they should not provoke him. Zuma, speaking at the Congress of SA Students (Cosas) meeting on free education in Durban, said there were people who were talking about him.

“I have been keeping quiet when I was president of the country with respect to them, it’s not that I don’t have anything to say. I want to warn them they must keep quiet. They must discuss their organisation and not me because I have things to say about their organisation and themselves,” he said.

Zuma who is due to appear in the Durban High Court on Friday to face charges relating to fraud, racketeering and money laundering, did not mention the name of the organisation.

However, the SACP at the weekend accused Zuma of being at the heart of a push-back against the ANC’s leadership and its crackdown on state capture. SACP general-secretary Blade Nzimande said the attempts to counter the drive against corruption and state capture must not be underestimated, adding that they were linked to Zuma.

“In many ways former president Zuma is at the heart of this counter-revolutionary fightback, together with a circle of discredited individuals, many themselves facing the likelihood of criminal prosecution. KwaZulu-Natal has become a seedbed for this counter-revolutionary agenda, but with tentacles spreading to other provinces,” Nzimande said.

“Zuma must distance himself very strongly from this. It is not enough for him to say ‘I will never leave the ANC’ as people are continuing to do things in his name,” he said.

SACP deputy general secretary Solly Mapaila was more scathing, accusing Zuma of trying to destroy the ANC-led alliance, and the ANC of being soft on him. Zuma on Wednesday took credit for introducing free higher education - an announcement that was made on the eve of the party’s 54th elective conference. Zuma told the audience on Wednesday that when he made the announcement he felt that free education was an ANC policy that could no longer be delayed.

“My view was that even if the money was not enough we should stop other (government) programmes and transfer the money to education,” he said.

Zuma did not talk about Friday’s appearance at the Durban High Court, but Cosas leaders said they would be at the court in large numbers to support the man they described as their “free education blesser”. Zuma said he implemented free education because he was tired of violent student protests.

“The protests were very destructive and property was damaged. We knew that every year protests were coming, but we had no solution, and it was getting worse. I believe that there is no problem without a solution,” he said.

Zuma added that he then decided to call a meeting of universities, student organisations and department leaders to discuss the matter. He said the Heher Commission of Inquiry had been appointed to come up with a resolution.

“The report was well done, but there was just one problem because it was still a transactional solution. I took the report, looked at it, formed a team in the government to look at it, and we found the solution,” he said.

The Mercury