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Thursday, 24 July 2008

Zuma will rule, "even in orange prison gear"

from South Africa Sucks

South Africa will be led by Jacob Zuma in orange clothing from prison even if he is found guilty in his corruption trial, ANC Youth League President Julius Malema said yesterday.

He told delegates attending the ANC provincial conference in the Free State that the country's prosecutors should save themselves the "embarrassment" and drop charges against Zuma.

"We can't imagine the courts finding (Zuma) guilty because if you arrest him, he will lead us from prison. We are not afraid to be led by a president in orange clothes.

"If you want to save yourselves the embarrassment, you must drop the charges because arresting him will not stop him from being the president. There is no other candidate," said Malema to rapturous applause from the more than 2 000 delegates.

Malema said the party's election campaign will be led by Zuma, ending speculation that the ruling party was concerned about the impact a Zuma trial might have on the party's image.

The fiery Malema pleaded for unity, saying that a united ANC would be a perfect birthday present for former president Nelson Mandela. "Unity will be a perfect birthday present for Mandela. If you don't come back united, you will have disappointed Mandela and other leaders before him.

"An attack on the ANC is an attack on the revolution ... we will fight and fight to ensure that that unity is not compromised ... for that we are prepared to die," said Malema.

The conference, taking place in Parys, began with fanfare and live music, in contrast to the previous chaotic conferences of the youth league and the North West province.

ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe had a rather sober message for the delegates, urging them to unite the party.

Mantashe and Malema both lamented that ANC members in the Free State had taken the party to court.

A group of party leaders had approached the Free State High Court asking that the conference be stalled, but the case was thrown out of court with costs on Tuesday.

Mantashe said the ANC should send statements to the errant members to pay its legal fees.

"You can't claim to be in love with the ANC and drag it through the courts ... all in the name of love. It can't be correct," he said.

"Nobody should hold the ANC hostage, the tendency (to take the ANC to court) must be fought and be defeated at all costs. They lost the court case and we must send them statements to pay the money. They must know it's costly to undermine your own organisation ... because in the Free State it's becoming a tradition," said Mantashe.

Meanwhile, the SACP has urged Pietermaritzburg residents to take precautionary measures ahead of "the black week" in August, a period expected to be characterised by minimal business activity in the KwaZulu-Natal capital.

This was in reference to Zuma's appearance in the Pietermaritzburg High Court on August 4 and 5, which is expected to bring the city centre to a standstill as a huge turnout of people is anticipated.

In addition, Cosatu will lead a protest on August 6 which is expected to be supported by the taxi industry.

SACP regional secretary Matthews Ndlovu called on Pietermaritzburg residents who are outside the city to return home before August 3 or to remain where they are, "as it will be very difficult for them to come in or out of the city during this tense period".

The SACP also called on the National Prosecuting Authority to "do the country a reasonable favour" and withdraw the charges against Zuma "before it is too late".

More than 5 000 Zuma supporters are expected to conduct night vigils outside the court from August 3.

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