Publication: The Star Issued: Date: 2007-06-05 Reporter: Sipho Khumalo Reporter: Sibusiso Mboto

All Aboard Camp Zuma



The Star




Sipho Khumalo, Sibusiso Mboto

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Bheki Cele

A popular ANC leader in KwaZulu Natal, Cele is the provincial MEC for transport and the chairperson of the biggest branch in KZN, eThekwini.

A teacher, guerrilla soldier in Angola and a Robben Island inmate, Cele first encountered Zuma in exile in Swaziland and is intensely loyal to him.

Cele was among a group of ANC members in KZN accused of plotting to make the province a no-go zone for Thabo Mbeki, a claim the group strenuously denied.

Vusi Dube

The flamboyant Pastor Dube could easily be called a spiritual mentor for Zuma and has been with him through thick and thin.

The founder of eThekwini Community Church has mobilised the religious community on behalf of Zuma.

Dube once hosted a huge prayer meeting on the eve of Zuma's rape and fraud trials at his church, where a coterie of priests and bishops prayed for Zuma and his welfare.

A former teacher and official of the Cosatu-affiliated South African Democratic Teachers' Union, Dube frequently turns up at Zuma events.

Dube broke away from Durban Christian Church where he was one of the pastors.

Elias Khumalo

Soft-spoken Khumalo has emerged as a person with a direct line to Zuma, consulting and advising him on issues of a personal nature.

This former trade unionist turned businessman runs a multimillion-rand medical business, which has lucrative contracts with the provincial government. The two spearheaded initiatives to end to political violence in KZN in the '90s.

Khumalo could be described as "back-room" operator in the Zuma campaign. However, he has on several occasions defended Zuma or pronounced himself on issues when it has been regarded as unwise for Zuma to do so. When Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu urged Zuma to withdraw from the ANC presidential race, Khumalo took him on publicly, suggesting that the cleric was "too old".

Zet Luzipo

A staunch supporter of Zuma within the trade movement in KZN, Luzipho has warned the National Prosecuting Authority that "there will be blood on the floor" of the high court if Zuma faces criminal charges again.

Luzipho, as the provincial secretary of Cosatu, does in KZN exactly what Vavi does for Zuma nationally.

He and his comrades have openly declared their support for Zuma's candidacy for the ANC presidency.

Luzipho believes that the ANC should be pro-workers and pro-poor.

Cosatu in KZN has provided several platforms for Zuma since he was fired from the government.

Buti Manamela

The Young Communist League secretary-general belongs to the inner circle of the Zuma camp.

Sharp and articulate, Manamela believes Zuma has been badly treated by the ANC and the National Prosecuting Authority.

Manamela and his colleagues believe Zuma's sacking from government office created an ideological space to steer the ANC towards leftist policies.

Billy Masethla

Was Masethla fired because he provided President Thabo Mbeki with dubious information or was it because he was seen to be a Zuma ally? This is one of the questions asked on the Friends of Jacob Zuma website.

The former spy boss once shared a platform with Zuma at a rally in Durban. Since being fired by Mbeki, he is believed to be in the Zuma camp. His role in the "hoax e-mail" saga, which sought to reinforce the conspiracy against a Zuma presidency, is not clear.

However, his differences with Mbeki seem to have prompted the spying on Mbeki's blue-eyed boy, businessman Sakkie Macozoma. Masethla also received a windfall in the multimillion-rand Batho Bonke shares distributed by presidential contender Tokyo Sexwale.

Fikile Mbalula

The ANC Youth League president has been on Zuma's side since the latter was fired as the SA deputy president.

He has lambasted the National Prosecuting Authority for the way it has treated Zuma.

Mbalula has shared public platforms with Zuma and has supported his candidacy not only as the president of the ANC but of the country. Mbalula has defended Zuma when he was criticised by political analysts, Desmond Tutu or "pseudo intellectuals".

He has been critical of suggestions that there should be a separation between the ANC president and that of the country. Historically the Youth League has been a "king-maker" in ANC leadership races. Mbeki swept into office on the back of Youth League backing, which at the time was led by Peter Mokaba.

Peete Mbambo

Pastor Mbambo came into the spotlight as a key witness during Zuma's rape trial in Joburg last year, when the plaintiff was dismissed as a serial rape accuser.

In the aftermath of the trial, Zuma's team was hard at work trying to convince the public of his suitability as a leader. This effort has seen Zuma interacting with different constituencies, including the religious sector.

The pastor's name recently surfaced in the alleged plot to kill Zuma, with reports suggesting that that this was a hoax masterminded by Mbambo.

He has denied this.

Senzo Mchunu

As ANC secretary in KZN, Mchunu has been at the forefront of organising support for Zuma during his court appearances in Durban and Pietermaritzburg. Mchunu has also had to answer tough questions about the ANC support for Zuma in KZN.

He was accused by the Mhlongo brothers, Siyanda and Phillip, of Stanger, of imposing Zuma on the province. The two suggested that Mchunu was behind moves to keep Mbeki out of KZN, a claim he denied, being the provincial secretary of the second-largest ANC province.

Mchunu is crucial to Zuma's campaign and its success. However, the soft-spoken Mchunu has always played his cards close to his chest, always defending the province's support of Zuma as part of the ANC's national general council's proclamation.

Zweli Mkhize

Bright, polite and regarded by his opponents as the "voice of reason" in the Zuma camp, the KZN MEC for Finance and Economic Development is a key confidant of the presidential hopeful. Mkhize (51) is a medical doctor who is popular in the ANC in KZN. He has assisted Zuma through his public trials and tribulations.

When Zuma was charged with rape, Mkhize reportedly sent an intermediary to the woman's family. The prosecutor in that case said Mkhize had tried to broker a deal with the woman to get her to drop the charges, which Mkhize denied.

Mkhize testified for the defence in the Schabir Shaik trial and revealed that when he was treasurer of the ANC in KZN Shaik had been a generous donor to the party. Mkhize is a long-standing ANC National Executive Committee member.

Don Mkhwanazi

As the chairperson of the Friends of Jacob Zuma trust, a body charged with raising funds for the ANC deputy president, Mkhwanazi has been critical in Zuma's campaign to be number one at Luthuli House.

It remains questionable how much money the trust has raised, but its work in keeping the image of Zuma alive through its website has been energetic, to say the least.

Previously an ally of Thabo Mbeki, Mkhwanazi fell out with the president over his management of the Central Energy Fund.

Mkhwanazi did fundraising for the Zuma Education Trust and has been active in mobilising black business for Zuma's cause.

Kgalema Motlanthe

Occupying a powerful and influential position as the secretary-general of the ANC, Motlanthe has offered Zuma a lifeline by deploying him to address several ANC meetings since he was sacked as deputy president of the country.

Motlanthe, a former trade unionist, enjoys support across the ANC-led tripartite alliance. Many in the ANC describe him as an independent thinker who is unafraid to speak his mind. He is understood to be favoured by Zuma to become his deputy should Zuma become president.

If Zuma's campaign fails, his supporters are said to be prepared to throw in their lot with Motlanthe.

Motlanthe appeared in public with Zuma outside the Pietermaritzburg High Court when Zuma faced corruption charges.

Ranjeni Manusamy

Once described as the "femme fatale" of the South African media world, Munusamy hails from northern KwaZulu Natal.

A journalist who reinvented herself as a master of spin, Munusamy left the Natal Witness to work for Mbeki ally and KZN premier S'bu Ndebele when he was provincial transport minister.

She left him to join the Sunday Times but fell out with the newspaper over its treatment of the Bulelani Ngcuka spy allegations.

Testifying before the Hefer Commission appointed to investigate the same allegations, it soon became clear that Munusamy's political allegiances lay with Zuma.

Munusamy is close to Mo Shaik and has on occasion done media work for Vivian Reddy.

Caesar (Siza) Ngcobo

Ngcobo is the MD of Caesar and Associates, and his connections appear to have been useful to Zuma.

This activist-cum-events manager crops up wherever Zuma is. He facilitates meetings with Zuma and organised a breakfast meeting where Zuma spoke to a select group of black business people.

Ngcobo's role also seems to be to scan people who want to see Zuma or who want to have their public events addressed by him.

He advises Zuma on events and has helped to create public platforms for Zuma ahead of the ANC's leadership showdown in Limpopo in December.

Ngcobo boasts contacts across the political, business, social, traditional, entertainment and cultural spectrum.

Comfort Ngidi

A Durban attorney who was once involved in ANC Youth League activities, he has been mobilising the legal community for the Zuma cause.

Ngidi founded the Democratic Professionals' Association of South Africa, which he chairs. The body was launched after Ngidi had led a group of lawyers to Zuma's Nkandla home last December.

The group has organised a number of workshops and round-table discussions on topical political and legal issues.

These have featured other known Zuma backers such as newspaper columnist Joe Qwelane and Mbeki critic Professor Sipho Seepe.

Blade Nzimande

A communist firebrand, Nzimande has fended for Zuma within the ANC-led tripartite alliance.

Nzimande has successfully exploited the ideological space created by the rift within the ANC over Zuma's sacking. He has appeared regularly with Zuma. He has also been a critic of the National Prosecuting Authority in its handling of the Zuma affairs.

He provides an ideological direction to the Zuma campaign and has exchanged tough words with Thabo Mbeki over his criticism of the government. He was credited with organising a trip for Zuma to Libya where he met that country's leader, Muammar Gaddafi.

After the visit, it was suggested that Zuma had raised funds to finance his presidential campaign. Zuma has denied this.

Vivian Reddy

A regular politician patron before and after 1994, Reddy's friendships have all the political bases covered.

His Edison Power company has benefited from a number of lucrative government contracts, including lighting up Durban's International Convention Centre.

He bankrolled Zuma for a spell when the ANC deputy president could not repay loans taken to improve his home in Nkandla.

Reddy had a run-in with the Scorpions concerning his loans to Zuma.

Mo Shaik

Shaik has an optometry degree from the University of Durban Westville. The only similarity between him and Thabo Mbeki is that they are both pipe-smoking intellectuals.

Unlike his brother Schabir, he doesn't boast about his relationship with Zuma. Mo, formerly in ANC intelligence, worked for the Department of Foreign Affairs for a while. He now runs the Nkobi empire, founded by Schabir, who as a shareholder of African Defence Systems benefited from the government's controversial multibillion-rand arms deal. Mo's other brother, Chippy, headed government procurement for the military. He is anxious to get his brother out of jail after Schabir's conviction on corruption which arose from his relationship with Zuma.

Erwin Ullbricht

Young Ullbricht regards Zuma as a mentor and says he has a direct line to the ANC deputy president.

He is often seen on the fringes of Zuma functions, talking on his cellphone. Described in media reports as a wealthy businessman who bankrolls Zuma, Ullbricht has no discernable business empire, but says he spent about R60 000 on a bash for Zuma's 62nd birthday.

He is from Treasure Beach, a working-class suburb in Durban. Ullbricht once worked for Vivian Reddy, marketing his Newcastle casino.

Ullbricht's home was raided by the Scorpions in connection with documents relating to Zuma and he was investigated in connection with a curious plot reported in the Durban media as an attempt to assassinate KZN Judge President Vuka Tshabalala.

Zwelinzima Vavi

The secretary-general of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), Vavi has stood with Zuma since the latter was fired.

He could be described as a "destroyer" in Zuma's team, crushing everything that seems to challenge Zuma's presidential bid.

Vavi once described Zuma as a "tsunami". He is a critic of the National Prosecuting Authority and its handling of the case against Zuma.

Vavi has openly criticised the candidacy of Tokyo Sexwale, saying the tycoon has been a major beneficiary of black economic empowerment.

He is one of the most powerful critics of President Mbeki's government policies, which he says are not pro-poor.

Barnabas Xulu

The media-shy Durban attorney is the administrator of the Friends of Jacob Zuma trust.

Xulu is not known for strong political views and appears to prefer working behind the scenes.

He was, however, splashed across newspapers and television screens following allegations that there was an assassination plot against Zuma.

Xulu and his associates were later accused by police sources of having fabricated an "assassination hoax", a charge they hotly denied.

Xulu is a close associate of other Zuma backers, like Elias Khumalo, Prince Sifiso Zulu and Don Mkhwanazi.

With acknowledgements to Sipho Khumalo, Sibusiso Mboto and The Star.

Project JZ : The Men Behind the Man

He has said that he will follow the path that the ANC will lay out for him, but it seems that Jacob Zuma still has presidential hopes. It also seems that he has set up the support base needed to achieve that goal, writes Sipho Khumalo

June 05, 2007 Edition 1

With Jacob Zuma still facing the possibility of a major corruption court case, many people might have expected him to stay out of the public limelight.

On the one hand, he has publicly stated that he will go wherever the ANC may deploy him, whether as ANC (and national) president, or into some other position.

But on the other, thanks to a mixed bag of loyal supporters - who might loosely be termed his "brains trust" - the former deputy president has clearly mounted an unannounced comeback campaign.

It is not by accident that Zuma has taken centre stage in the national presidential stakes. Surrounding himself with an eclectic group of right-hand people, Zuma has steadily fashioned himself as a people's champion; a leader for the voiceless; an alternative to President Thabo Mbeki.

In 2005 few would have believed that Zuma would still be in the running to lead the ANC. Not after having been removed as the deputy president of the country in 2005 and facing a damaging rape charge (of which he was found innocent). And even now, not with the cloud of corruption charges still hanging over him.

But until Gauteng tycoon Tokyo Sexwale recently entered the race, Zuma was seemingly the only candidate for the showdown at the ANC's conference, scheduled for December in Limpopo.

His campaign is being shaped by various players who have cleverly ensured that Zuma has stayed in the limelight.

They have shrewdly portrayed Zuma as a victim of "political conspiracy", one that seeks to stop him from being the president of the ANC and of the country.

Building Zuma as a "man of the people" in contrast to Mbeki, generally seen as being "aloof", the Zuma spin doctors have sought to strengthen his appeal among the poor and the ANC's grassroots supporters.

Spearheaded by those who have positioned themselves on the left of the ANC, they see in Zuma an opportunity to create a champion of the voiceless.

His allies are particularly influential in organisations like Cosatu, the SACP, the ANC Youth League and the Young Communist League, where there has been frustration with Mbeki's perceived move away from RDP to GEAR.

Other supporters include people who feel rejected by Mbeki, or who may feel they have been kicked out of his inner circle, or those who believe that Mbeki is leading the ANC away from its core constituency.

Even before Zuma's rape trial got under way, a group largely comprising of legal, business and political activists set up the Friends of Jacob Zuma trust fund.

With the launch of a website, the focus of the trust has since moved towards the branding of "Project JZ". It is here that his supporters post messages of support, lambast his accusers and sing the praises of their hero.

The campaign apparently has several dimensions, each appealing to a different constituency.

First there was his public retesting for HIV, clearly a move to reduce the damage done after his infamous shower comments during the rape trial.

Zuma has met with groups as diverse as the Afrikaans community, sharing beers and boerewors over a braai with the likes of Leon Schuster and Steve Hofmeyr. Then he accepted an honorary title as "reverend" from a pentecostal church group. He has also addressed large gatherings of new-age church groups, whose congregations may well be unhappy with the ANC's progressive stance on same-sex issues and abortion.

While Zuma is extremely popular in KwaZulu Natal, his national support base largely remains untested. Political analyst Zakhele Ndlovu said: "Given his mass appeal and growing popularity, it is conceivable that Zuma could win a landslide should the ANC elections be held today."

But, bearing in mind that the succession issue will only be settled in December, Ndlovu cautioned that six months was "far away" and anything could still happen.

He added: "The growing perception of his victimisation has turned Msholozi (Zuma) into some kind of a cult hero whose suffering has caused the ANC some pains.

"His fate will certainly have a significant impact not only on the ANC but on our nascent democracy."

While the initiatives of Zuma's brains trust have all the hallmarks of an election campaign, much could change in the intervening period.

A day is a long time in politics.

With acknowledgements to Sipho Khumalo and The Star.