Watch: ‘Happy holidays’ from J

Watch: ‘Happy holidays’ from Jacob Zuma and the Umlazi Gospel Choir

It’s been a gruelling year for the former president and 2020 doesn’t look like it will be any easier.

Watch: ‘Happy holidays’ from J

Former president Jacob Zuma has been gripped by the cheerful holiday spirit, despite enduring a tumultuous year, exemplified by ill-health, dire judicial defeats and the spectre of the State Capture Inquiry.

On the outskirts of Nklandla, just a stone’s throw away from the former president’s palatial estate, hundreds of children lined up for their share of Christmas spoils. The annual festive season bash, organised by the Jacob Zuma Foundation, seeks to give back to the embattled northern KwaZulu-Natal community.

According to media reports, this year’s event was not as well attended as previous Christmas parties.

Nonetheless, a cheerful Zuma interacted with followers and children alike – handing out presents to those less fortunate and passing on advice to the country’s youth during an impromptu interview.

Watch: Zuma in Christmas song and dance

Zuma, who has shied away from the limelight in recent months, his infamous Twitter account lying dormant following rumours of tax irregularities in November, refused to be drawn into political debate while attending the Christmas function.

Instead of elaborating on his numerous precarious predicaments by way of conspiracy theory rhetoric – issued at length, throughout the year, outside courtrooms and before deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo – Zuma chose to inspire the youth before welcoming in the new year. Speaking to SABC News, Zuma said:

“… encourage young people, as well as the type of studies they must go through so they have the kind of education that would make them find jobs easily… rather than taking the studies that will make them have the qualifications but no jobs.”

Following the event, Zuma and the Umlazi Gospel Choir broke out into song and praise, ushering in the end of a dramatic year with the hope for a peaceful 2020.

A gruelling start to 2020 for the former president

It seems unlikely, however, that Zuma’s next decade is going to be free of controversy. The former president’s year kicks off with yet another court appearance in relation to the sordid Arms Deal, which Zuma attempted to have struck off the roll. The former president will have to answer to hundreds of charges of fraud and corruption.

Zuma is also scheduled to reappear before the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture – a date which he managed to avoid due to “ill-health” and a controversial medical trip to Cuba. During his last appearance, both Zuma and his legal team blasted the commission’s methods as “unfair”. Zuma abandoned his testimony under a cloud of controversy.