Africa

Ex-South African President Zuma Survives Car Crash – Police

 

South Africa’s former president Jacob Zuma survived a car accident overnight after a vehicle transporting him was hit by a drunk driver, police said on Friday.

The incident happened just hours after electoral officials barred Zuma from standing in the May 29 general election, further stoking tensions in the run-up to the polls.

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

The 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 and his bodyguards escaped uninjured and the 81-year-old was taken to his place of residence.

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.

In December he announced he would be campaigning for the opposition uMkhonto we Sizwe (MK) party in an attempt to relaunch his career — a major blow to the ANC.

On Wednesday the ANC launched a new court application against MK, after losing an initial bid to have it 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.

READ ALSO: South Africa’s Electoral Umpire Bars Ex-President Zuma From May Election

Conspiracy Theories 

MK’s spokesman Nhlamulo Ndhlela alleged the car collision was not a coincidence.

“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,” Ndhlela told AFP.

“There is underhand at play here,” he said, alleging that Zuma’s car was specifically targeted in the motorcade.

Political tensions are running high in the lead-up to the polls, in which the ANC is on the brink 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.

Zuma’s car accident, two months before the vote, has been sparked conspiracy theories across social media.

The driver of the other vehicle is expected to appear in court on Tuesday.

When asked how Zuma was, 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,” referring to the ANC.

AFP

Emmanuel Egobiambu

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