Zuma supporters a threat to peace and business in South Africa

It will be a while before Ramaphosa, can rest easy. There is still a lot to be done in South Africa and Zuma may yet have the last laugh.

It is way too early to write off former South African President Jacob Zuma and his supporters.

As South Africa braces itself for a backlash following the arrest and imprisonment of Jacob Zuma. Scenes of violence and damage to private property are becoming increasingly visible as distraught Zuma supporters take to violent protests across KwaZulu.

This comes after Jacob Zuma handed himself over to the authorities in what was perhaps the most consequential moment for the rule of law in post-apartheid South Africa.

The apex constitutional court ruled last week that he must surrender himself in on a charge of contempt of court, after repeatedly refusing to appear before a statutory commission looking at allegations of corruption made against him.

His supporters had formed a human barricade to protect the former President at his Nkandla homestead in the heart of Zulu-land.

However, following what seemed like a potential stand off Zuma capitulated. he blinked and handed himself in.

The authorities hand threatened that if the former president did not voluntarily turn himself in, the police minister was set to arrest him.

In the run up to this, Zuma and his supporters – gathered outside his rural redoubt near Nkandla in KwaZulu-Natal – threatening resistance and even war against the state if the authorities tried to enter the compound, while his lawyers engaged in futile litigation to try to get him off the hook. (seemingly down on his luck a judge dismissed Zuma’s application the morning after he handed himself in).

The ruling African National Congress is now desperately trying to defuse the situation, however, tensions are still high. There are still a lot of angry Zuma supporters out there causing disruptions and damaging private and public property.

The Zuma supporters continue to not only damage property, but contravene Covid regulations.

South Africa is in a lethal Delta variant-driven third wave with all public meetings banned.

Nonetheless, Zuma, is by no means a spent force he still commands a lot of support and the South African authorities can not disregard his influence more so the ANC which is divided with regards this issue.

Zuma has a strong support base in KwaZulu Natal and the authorities best not ignore that as this may ignite more chaos, if they down play the seriousness of this seemingly minor disruptions.

When asked if he’d instruct his supporters not to resist his arrest, the former president warned, Trumpishly, “you must not provoke people”.

His lawyer Dali Mpofu outrageously issued the same threat to a judge on Tuesday, evoking the ghost of the 2012 Marikana massacre, where police killed 34 striking miners, by suggesting that the imperative of not causing “another Marikana” should override any legal consideration of jurisdiction. The police minister Bheki Cele prevaricated.

Although, the former President has handed himself in and seemingly the rule of law won the day. There have been protests across KwaZulu-Natal and these may continue and may soon be converted into a rallying call for South Africans to fight corruption and lack of adequate social provisions and social justice.

The anxiety over a backlash to Zuma’s arrest may have been down played, nevertheless, the authorities best not count Zuma or his supporters out yet.

Jacob Zuma, is much loved in his home province and many in the ANC and South Africa at large view him as a father figure. His diehard supporters will continue to agitate for civil disobedience. Increasingly becoming a thorn-in-the-flesh for the Ramaphosa-led ANC.

It will be a while before Ramaphosa, can rest easy. There is still a lot to be done in South Africa and Zuma may yet have the last laugh.