Zuma Fans to Celebrate His Early Release from South African Jail

Zuma Fans to Celebrate His Early Release from South African Jail

Former South African President Jacob Zuma’s supporters plan to gather next week to celebrate his early release from prison on medical parole, a concession that sparked outrage among opposition parties and civil rights groups. 

A ceremony will be held in the eastern city of Durban on Oct. 14, and Zuma will attend if his medical team give him a clean bill of health and his parole conditions allow him to do so, Mzwanele Manyi, a spokesman for his foundation, told reporters on Friday. The ex-president intends campaigning for the ruling African National Congress ahead of upcoming municipal elections, Manyi said. 

Zuma was sentenced to a 15-month prison term for defying an order by the nation’s top court to appear before a judicial panel that’s investigating graft during his nine-year tenure, but was freed after serving less than two months. The main opposition Democratic Alliance are challenging his release in court on the grounds that proper procedures weren’t followed. 

The 79-year-old’s incarceration triggered a week of rioting in two of the nine provinces that claimed 354 lives and saw thousands of businesses being looted. The nation’s prisons agency and his foundation have refused to divulge his parole conditions. 

Zuma’s immersion in a succession of scandals cost the ANC support in the last municipal elections in 2016, and it lost control of several major cities. The party, now headed by President Cyril Ramaphosa, hopes to reclaim the lost ground in the Nov. 1 vote.

Zuma doesn’t need anyone’s permission to campaign for the ANC as he remains a party member, his daughter Duduzile Zuma-Sambudla said by phone. He had been jailed “illegally” and his family were happy to have him home, she said. 

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.