Veterans in the African National Congress (ANC) party have protested against the jail term handed to South Africa’s former president Jacob Zuma.
The Umkhonto Wesizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) on Wednesday opposed the “entirely unjustifiable and unjust” imprisonment sentence.
Zuma, 79, was on Tuesday sentenced to 15 months in prison following his refusal to provide a court-ordered testimony before the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture.
The Constitutional Court, the highest court in South Africa, sent Zuma to jail after finding him guilty of contempt of court.
Justice Sisi Khampepe of the Constitutional Court gave Zuma five days to surrender himself to the police and be handed over for booking at a correctional facility.
The former statesman has always enjoyed the full backing of veterans of the ANC’s former armed military wing of the liberation struggle.
“MKMVA will oppose the imprisonment of President Zumba as a matter of legal, political and revolutionary principle,” said spokesperson Carl Niehaus.
“We will use every legal avenue available to us to oppose Nxamalala’s [Zuma] imprisonment, and to register our outrage.”
The military veterans went on to label Zuma’s sentencing as an “abuse of legal power, and indeed abuse of political power in general.”
With the MKMVA indicating intention to take the legal route, it is a major departure by the war veterans from their earlier stance that they will cause chaos and make South Africa ungovernable if Mr Zuma is arrested.
They have been camped at Zuma’s Nkandla residence for months.
“MKMVA will communicate further with regards to the actions it intends to take in order to register our outrage and fundamental opposition to the imprisonment of one of the greatest revolutionaries of our liberation struggle, and the Patron in Chief of MKMVA,” Niehaus said.
The struggle combatants have also recently been at loggerheads with the ruling ANC which has disbanded the MKMVA.
While the military veterans remain defiant, the ANC and some major opposition party leaders have welcomed the Constitutional Court’s sentencing.
The Economic Freedom Front’s Julius Malema and Democratic Alliance’s John Steenhuisen also hailed the judgment.
Zuma’s son Edward, meanwhile, said he would have to be killed first before his father is arrested.
Zuma established the Commission of Inquiry in 2018 to investigate allegations of corruption, state capture and fraud but he refused to testify before it.