Jacob Zuma puts parties first at Christmas
Massive legal bills fail to put damper on Nkandla festivities
While his supporters are scrambling to raise funds for his legal fees, former president Jacob Zuma will be playing the role of benevolent squire this week in his rural village at Nkandla.
For the past decade, "Santa" Zuma - with the aid of his "elves" in the form of senior politicians and influential businesspeople - has handed out a mountain of food, toiletries and blankets to the elderly, and sweets and other goodies to children.
There was uncertainty over this year's Christmas festivities after the Pretoria high court ruled that Zuma must pay back millions of rands of taxpayers' funds that his lawyers pocketed for helping him fight corruption and fraud cases.
He is also required to pay back millions more in legal costs incurred in his failed bid to block the release of former public protector Thuli Madonsela's "State of Capture" report, which led to the formation of the commission of inquiry into state capture chaired by deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo.
It was also reported last year that the Jacob Zuma Foundation, which is behind the Christmas activities, had run out of money and could not pay university fees for students it had promised to fund.
But despite all these financial woes, as well as his unceremonious Valentine's Day departure from the presidency, the party will go on.
On December 12, official invitations were sent to village elders, senior citizens and the youth confirming that Zuma will host Christmas bashes near his KwaDakwadunuse private homestead in the village of KwaNxamala this week.
PARTY FOR SENIOR CITIZENS
According to the invitation, the party for senior citizens will take place on Thursday and will be followed by the children's shindig on Saturday.
Both will take place on the sports ground at Mnyakanya High School, where Zuma normally votes at election time.
The invitations were issued by the Zuma Foundation's senior administration officer, Halala Sibiya.
Zuma, who made a foray onto social media when he joined Twitter last week, has been keeping his 130,000 followers aware of his busy schedule.
As he posted videos in recent days of himself going for checkmate with youngsters at his foundation's annual chess tournament, leading young men in song, and having fun dribbling, passing and scoring on the field with aspirant football stars, Zuma has shown little obvious concern for the controversy that surrounds him.
Zuma's spokesperson, Vukile Mathabela, referred queries about the Christmas parties to the Zuma Education Trust Foundation.