Publication: Sunday Times Issued: Date: 2005-03-06 Reporter: Paddy Harper Reporter: Sthembiso Msomi

We're With You, Cosatu Tells Zuma



Sunday Times




Paddy Harper, S'thembiso Msomi

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Delegates attending a Cosatu summit yesterday pledged to follow Deputy President Jacob Zuma "wherever he goes" ahead of a week in which his allegedly corrupt relationship with Durban businessman Schabir Shaik will come under intense scrutiny.

Zuma, who was the main speaker at the union federation's summit, was given a rousing applause by the 2000 delegates when he got up to deliver his speech.

The three-day conference is aimed at kick-starting Cosatu's 20th anniversary celebrations.

Zuma's name has taken a hammering over the past two weeks that Shaik has spent in the witness box in his fraud and corruption trial at the Durban High Court.

This is likely to continue this week when senior prosecutor Billy Downer grills Shaik over the encrypted fax which allegedly authorised a R1-million bribe for Zuma from French arms dealer Thomson (now Thint).

But Cosatu members, who have been among the most vocal Zuma supporters, seemed unconcerned about the proceedings in the court.

When Cosatu president Willie Madisha officially introduced Zuma to the delegates the hall erupted into the now-famous song: "Wenzeni uZuma? WeNgcuka kawuphendule?" which demands that the former Scorpions boss Bulelani Ngcuka explain why the elite unit is "persecuting Zuma".

At the end of his hour-long speech, in which Zuma called on the ANC's alliance partner to ensure that the ruling party "remains pro-working class," the delegates sang a song pledging to "follow Zuma".

The deputy president, Labour Minister Membathisi Mdladlana, Madisha and other alliance leaders at the main table joined in the singing.

Zuma told the delegates that the ANC alliance was there for "us who are poor and not those who are rich".

With acknowledgements to S'thembiso Msomi, Paddy Harper and the Sunday Times.