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Support for Jacob Zuma is higher now than when he was president‚ the man at the forefront of arranging vigils and rallying the troops for the former head of state has claimed.
Bishop Timothy Ngcobo‚ of the National Interfaith Council of South Africa (Nicsa)‚ said on Thursday night that there had been a groundswell of pro-Zuma sentiment.
Ngcobo was speaking on the fringes of a night vigil‚ which saw those faithful to the embattled former statesman gather at the Freedom Park Square ahead of his appearance at the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Friday. Ngcobo has been a central figure in arranging vigils and rallying support for Zuma.
By 9.30pm‚ about 100 people were at the vigil. But Ngcobo said bus loads – literally – were on their way to the KwaZulu-Natal capital.
“The buses are all coming…if you look at the people here and the people who will arrive‚ it shows that the support for former President Zuma is growing every day; and every day we gather momentum‚” he said.
Zuma faces charges of fraud‚ money laundering and racketeering relating to his alleged malfeasance in the controversial arms deal.
He enjoys a strong support base in KZN‚ including business forums and elements of the clergy, who have been leading figures in organising night vigils and marches of support at his court appearances. Zuma twice appeared in the Durban High Court related to this matter, before it was transferred to the provincial capital.
Ngcobo said that their crowd of supporters would swell to the thousands and would march on the court to demonstrate their support for Zuma
“We are expecting more that 300 buses in this place tomorrow and we will occupy it like this city has never seen.
“We will be passing our message of support to former President Zuma. We know that the court will do what is right because we know he is innocent. He, like everyone else, is so until proven otherwise by a court. So tonight we sacrifice our night and our body to show that this is merely a political game that is being played.”
The scenes playing out in support of Zuma‚ particularly the night vigils‚ mirror those that occurred about a decade ago when the embattled former head of state first faced the corruption charges.
On the funding of the support campaign‚ Ngcobo said that they had relied on their congregants‚ among others.
“We have our own business people in the church and we have other people who have come forward and say that want to support Msholozi‚” he said.
The march will take supporters from Dales Park to Freedom Park Square in Church Street on Friday morning.