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Former S.Africa leader Zuma survives car crash, party accuses ANC

Jacob Zuma is now a fierce opponent of the ruling ANC
Jacob Zuma is now a fierce opponent of the ruling ANC - Copyright AFP NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA
Jacob Zuma is now a fierce opponent of the ruling ANC - Copyright AFP NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA

South Africa’s former president Jacob Zuma survived a car accident overnight when his vehicle was struck by a drunk driver, but his newly created opposition group accused the ruling ANC party of being involved in the incident.

“Two car accidents in a space of a year and a half, both accidents committed by purported ‘drunk drivers’ who manage to drive directly into President Zuma’s motorcade”, a spokesman for Zuma’s uMkhonto we Sizwe (MK) party said in a statement.

“This looks like a deliberate attempt to assassinate President Zuma,” said the spokesman, Nhlamulo Ndhlela.

Ndhlela said the party had “been monitoring and observing a sequence of inter-related events” that have happened to Zuma under the “Cyril Ramaphosa government”, after Zuma announced in December that he would be campaigning for the MK party in bid to relaunch his political career.

Zuma, a former veteran of the ruling African National Congress (ANC), was forced out of office in 2018 under a cloud of corruption allegations but still wields political clout.

The car accident happened on Thursday just hours after electoral officials barred Zuma from standing in the May 29 general election, further stoking tensions ahead of the vote.

The driver’s car “collided with former president Mr Jacob Zuma’s official armoured state vehicle”, the South African Police Service (SAPS) said.

A 51-year-old man was arrested in KwaZulu Natal province “for drunken driving, as well as on a charge of reckless and negligent driving”, SAPS said.

Zuma, 81, and his bodyguards escaped uninjured and he was taken to his place of residence.  

On Wednesday, the ANC filed a new court application against MK after losing an initial bid to have the party disqualified.

The ANC says that MK’s name and logo are similar to those of the now disbanded apartheid-era military wing of the ANC once led by Nelson Mandela, and that this could deceive or confuse voters.

Zuma’s daughter Duduzile Zuma took to X to allege that the car collision was not a coincidence.

“Please don’t insult our intelligence, we are not supporters of Ramaphosa”, she wrote.

– ‘High spirits’ –

“The police minister who is responsible for the former president’s protection unit has not upgraded his vehicle for eight years and he is the same person that has previously uttered messages around burying Zuma,” the party spokesman Ndhlela told AFP.

He also noted what he called “dangerous and reckless statements” made by ANC politicians towards Zuma, including a provincial official saying that “Zuma will be in hospital before elections”.

As the May election approaches, the ANC is at risk of dropping below 50 percent of the vote for the first time since it came to power at the end of apartheid in 1994.

The party is bleeding support amid a weak economy and allegations of corruption and mismanagement.

The driver of the other vehicle in Zuma’s crash is expected to appear in court on Tuesday.

Zuma was sentenced to 15 months in jail in June 2021 after refusing to testify to a panel probing financial corruption and cronyism under his presidency.

He was freed on medical parole just two months into his term.

But his jailing sparked protests, riots and looting that left more than 350 dead in South Africa’s worst violence since the advent of democracy.

When asked about Zuma’s condition since the crash, Ndhlela told AFP: “He is in high spirits as always and was in laughter this morning about the accident.”

“But it does not mean he took it lightly (or that) he is not aware of what’s happening.”

“Mr Zuma is in church today praying that the devil does not come into MK,” he said, referring to the ANC.

Written By

With 2,400 staff representing 100 different nationalities, AFP covers the world as a leading global news agency. AFP provides fast, comprehensive and verified coverage of the issues affecting our daily lives.

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