ANC KwaZulu-Natal chairperson and premier, Sihle Zikalala, says he has never betrayed former president Jacob Zuma to carry favour with President Cyril Ramaphosa. He was speaking to SABC News following Zuma’s incarceration at the Estcourt Correctional Services Facility in KwaZulu-Natal.

Last week, the Constitutional Court found Zuma guilty of contempt of court – sentencing him to 15 months in jail.

Zuma will be eligible for parole after serving three months and three weeks of his sentence.

Zikalala says he will not betray Zuma, even after his jail stint.

“We have never sold him out and we are not going to also betray him or desert him even now. Some of us do not parade ourselves as supporters of anyone but when we give you support we do so in principle and consistency. I am one of those and without trying to say I have been alone, no. I have been with Zuma from 2005 until now. In each and every difficulty he has faced, we have been there publicly,” says the KwaZulu-Natal ANC provincial chairperson.

Zikalala says provincial ANC officials must allow differing views of the public regarding Zuma’s incarceration as part of efforts to achieve unity.

The KZN premier has commended Zuma for handing himself over for arrest, saying the move helped to avert chaotic scenes by his supporters.

“If you are to build unity, the first thing is to allow people who are angry to express themselves and try to find each other. The ANC will still need to exist and it needs to continue uniting the people of KZN and the country as a whole in the struggle for total liberation. I think we must commend him for such a decision and we cannot undermine the fact that his decision averted bloodshed in KZN,” adds Zikalala.

Samkele Maseko in conversation with ANC KZN leader, Sihle Zikalala: 

‘Unfolding constitutional crisis’

Meanwhile, DA Leader John Steenhuisen has welcomed National Assembly Speaker Thandi  Modise’s decision to consider his request for an urgent debate of National Public Importance on what he calls the unfolding constitutional crisis.

In his letter, Steenhuisen says the crisis relates to Zuma’s sentencing.

“The Democratic Alliance obviously welcomes the fact that the Speaker has acknowledged receipt of our request for a debate. We believe that there is never loose ends arising out of  last week’s events that need to be still be discussed. Chief amongst these, the bizarre letter from the police Minister and Police Commissioner to the Apex court essentially second guessing  their judgement,” says Steenhuisen.

He says there’s also a need for the National Assembly to debate the application of lockdown rules.

“We cannot  situation, where people are locked down having to close their businesses, shut their shebeens, their taverns, their  restaurants, their guesthouse and their hotels and then watch on television as large gatherings are permitted with impunity outside courtrooms, outside the former president’s homestead in Nkandla and those people are  rightly angry that they are making a sacrifice and yet the rules are not consistently applied. So I think we need to have that debate in the National Assembly,” Steenhuisen adds. – Additional reporting by Mercedes Besent