Former South African president Jacob Zuma joined his successor, President Cyril Ramaphosa, in a show of African National Congress unity on Tuesday as the ANC celebrated its anniversary in the KwaZulu-Natal province.
The celebration at the Ohlange Institute – a site founded by the first ANC president in 1912 – saw the two leaders side by side, raising glasses in a toast and cutting a giant birthday cake together. It also saw Ramaphosa seize the occasion to praise Zuma and assure crowds that there is no difficulty between him and the scandal-ridden former president.
A defiant Zuma resigned under pressure last February, and faces fraud, corruption, racketeering and money laundering charges. The ANC united front, and word of the leaders’ upcoming official meeting, didn’t sit well with the Democratic Alliance, South Africa’s leading opposition party, especially since the DA consistently rejects the idea that South Africans should have to pay for Zuma’s legal fees.
“This proposed meeting presents Ramaphosa with an opportune moment to cancel the illegal deal struck between the presidency and Jacob Zuma,” said DA leader Mmusi Maimane. “I have today written to President Ramaphosa, requesting that on behalf of the nation, he does the right thing and cancels the deal with immediate effect, and to communicate this with Mr. Zuma when they meet face to face.”
Maimane mocked the ANC show of unity as a “criminal syndicate” and insisted on change in a struggling South Africa, where the parties differ sharply on contentious issues including land reform. “As long as the ANC remain in power, their system of corruption will continue to steal from the pockets of all South Africans,” he said.