Jacob Zuma is one of the most controversial political leaders in the country. His followers and critics are equally devoted to their missions - which is clear now that he has been imprisoned.
Briefly News decided to take a detailed look at uBaba's life, career, and what led to his arrest this week.
Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma was born on 12 April, 1942, in Nkandla. His father was a policeman who died when Zuma was only 5 years old, and his mother worked as a domestic worker.
The former president has two brothers, Michael and Joseph.
Jacob Zuma joined the ANC at the age of 17
Zuma started his political career at the age of 17 in 1959. However, the ANC was shortly afterward banned by the previous regime and Zuma ended up joining Umkhonto we Sizwe in 1962.
According to SA History Online, uBaba was arrested that same year along with 45 recruits near Zeerust. The group was charged with conspiring to overthrow the apartheid government. He was sentenced to a decade behind bars at Robben Island.
Briefly News learned he served his sentence alongside prominent freedom fighters, including Nelson Mandela.
Jacob Zuma became the ANC's head of intelligence following his release from Robben Island
Imprisonment did not deter Zuma's fight against the white minority-led government at the time. Shortly after his release, Zuma joined the ANC's intelligence department where he played a pivotal role in the party's underground structures.
He quickly became the head of the intelligence department
In 1975, Zuma fled to Swaziland where he met former president Thabo Mbeki. Zuma moved to Mozambique to meet thousands of exiles who fled South Africa following the Soweto Uprising, according to Wikipedia.
In 1977, Zuma became an ANC NEC member and also served as the party's Deputy Chief Representative in Mozambique.
Return from exile
Zuma went on to fulfill several duties for the ANC during his time in exile, including serving on the party's political and military council, before returning to SA in February, 1990.
According to the ANC, he was one of the first ANC leaders to return to South Africa to begin the process of negotiations.
He was elected the Deputy Secretary-General of the ANC in 1991, following the party's unbanning.
The ANC wrote on its website:
"In January 1994, he was nominated as the ANC candidate for the Premiership of the KZN province. He is generally regarded as the person most instrumental in achieving the peace that is now enjoyed by the people of KZN and in October 1998 he was honoured with the Nelson Mandela Award for Outstanding Leadership in Washington DC, USA."
Zuma faithfully served as a member of the ANC and in 1999, he was appointed executive Deputy President of South Africa.
Corruption, racketeering, and sexual assault
Zuma has had his fair share of controversies and he has run into the law a couple tones in the past.
On 14 June, 2005, then-President Thabo Mbeki removed Msholozi as his Deputy following allegations of corruption and fraud related to the $5-billion weapons acquisition deal in 1999.
In 2007, the NPA charged Zuma with racketeering and tax evasion after the initial corruption case was dropped, BBC reported.
On 12 September the following year, Pietermaritzburg Judge Chris Nicholson ruled that the corruption charges against JZ were unlawful.
Mbeki filed an affidavit to appeal the dismis charges and the case was reopened. However, the NPA dropped all charges against Zuma in April 2009.
In 2006, Zuma had to once again stand trial after a woman, Fezeka Ntsukela Kuzwayo, accused him of sexual assault.
The alleged incident reportedly happened on 2 November at JZ’s home in Johannesburg. At the time Kuzwayo, aka “Khwezi”, thought of Zuma as a family friend, father figure and uncle, SA History Online reported. The case was dismissed.
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Jacob Zuma has more than one wife
Jacob Zuma is arguably one of the most famous polygamists in the country. The former head of state has been married seven times, including to Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.
Gertrude Sizakele Khumalo is JZ's first wife. She served as South Africa's first lady for 5 years and founded the Sizakhele MaKhumalo Zuma Foundation.
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma was the second to marry the President in 1972, but they divorced in 1998. She has four medical degrees and a very impressive career in politics where she served as the Health, Foreign Affairs and Home Affairs Minister for the past 18 years.
uBaba's third wife, Kate Mantsho, took her own life in 2000. In a letter she left behind, Mantsho described her marriage to the President as '24 years of hell'.
Zuma also married Nompumelelo Ntuli, who was accused of poisoning her bodyguard. In 2010, Msholozi married Thobeka Stacie Madiba. Zuma had to pay lobola for the right to marry her.
Thobeka led a Unicef-backed campaign to raise awareness about child brides and worked hard for more action to be taken against illegal marriages to minors occurring. She graduated from the Umlazi Campus of the University of Zululand with a B. Com.
Gloria Bongekile Ngema is the President's sixth wife, she hails from Umlazi township and has a series of qualifications, including a business degree.
In 2018, Zuma shocked the country when it was revealed he impregnated a much younger woman. Nonkanyiso Conco gave birth to their child on Zuma's 76th birthday.
The country had no idea about a romantic relationship between Zuma and his young lover- which is believed to have begun in 2013.
Zuma completed the lobola payment to Conco's family and both of the families were happy with the proposed union. A source close to Zuma said the former president was keeping his promise of marrying his baby mama.
However, reports suggest Conco and Zuma have split. She appeared on the hugely popular Real Housewives of Durban(RHOD) TV show and many hopes Conco would spill the tea.
But, to their disappointment, uBaba's former flame did not dish on their relationship. In fact, Briefly News exclusively reported that the Zuma family warned her to keep her mouth shut about them on the reality TV show.
Zuma has over 20 children
The former head of state has fathered 23 children in his marriages. Some of his kids are more popular than others - and not always for the right reasons.
Amongst the most well-known Zuma children are Edward, Duduzile, and Duduzane Zuma. They have also been very vocal about their dad's recent legal woes.
Earlier, Briefly News reported Duduzane posted a video on Twitter explaining why people are so upset about the incarceration of his father. He said that his father is not just one man and that he carries the hopes and aspirations of millions of people in South Africa.
Going further Dudzane said that his dad is the embodiment of success, coming from nowhere and making something of himself. He also said that his father is an old man and at 79 years he is not going anywhere. Duduzane has said that his dad has been hounded his entire political life.
Presidency and what led to Jacob Zuma’s arrest
Thabo Mbeki attempted to stay in office for a third term but he lost the ANC presidency to Zuma in 2007.
Two years later, Zuma was elected the president of South Africa. He remained in office for two terms until the ANC forced him to resign in 2018.
He was succeeded by Cyril Ramaphosa, who won the party’s national elections in December, 2018, despite Zuma favouring his ex-wife, Dlamini-Zuma.
A month after he stepped down as the head of state, the NPA reinstated criminal charges against Zuma.
Zuma has been in and out of court ever since and he was summoned to testify in front of the Zondo Commission in December 2020.
However, Zuma refused to make a court appearance in the months that followed and he was ultimately ordered by the Constitutional Court to testify, which he also ignored. On 29 June, Zuma was sentenced to 15 months in prison for contempt of court.
Protests abrupt over Zuma’s arrest
Zuma’s loyal supporters have made it known that they are not happy about his imprisonment.
The protestors demanding the release of former president Jacob Zuma have taken to the streets of KwaZulu-Natal. The protests have spread across the country and have reached as far as the East Rand in Gauteng, Briefly News reported overnight the weekend.
The M2 was closed in both directions on Sunday as the protest action continued to spread. The Johannesburg Metro Police Department spokesperson Wayne Minnaar reported that the protestors had blockaded the road with burning tyres.
Beside shots being fired, shops have been looted and vehicles set on fire as the tense situation continues to escalate.
Several people have already been arrested during the violent protests.
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