Cape Town - President Jacob Zuma on Thursday appointed National Freedom Party leader, Zanele KaMagwaza-Msibi as deputy minister of science and technology.
KaMagwaza-Msibi was the former mayor of the Zululand District Municipality in KwaZulu-Natal.
The ANC in KZN welcomed her appointment, claiming this proved that Zuma supported and practised democracy.
“The African National Congress always puts the interests of the country first and not narrow party interests when constituting the national executive,” said ANC provincial spokesman Senzo Mkhize.
Two months ago, however, the ANC in KZN marched to KaMagwaza-Msibi's offices amid allegations that she was misusing municipal funds for political activities ahead of the general elections.
They called for Public Protector Thuli Madonsela to investigate these allegations.
At the time, the SABC quoted the ANC's national executive council member Bheki Cele as saying: “We hear now and again of the best run district municipality. But now and again this mayor is all over the show.
“She's in the hostels in Gauteng, in the Eastern Cape. We wonder what resources she is using because constitutionally she's got a demarcated area which is called Zululand district.
“Only if she can just take that money and create jobs here.”
Cele was alleged to have said the march, however, did not affect an agreement between the ANC and NFP to co-govern the municipality.
On Thursday, Mkhize said the April march was against the municipality and not KaMagwaza-Msibi as an individual.
“We are not saying she has been cleared, but we are saying proper investigations must take place,” said Mkhize.
“She has also not yet been found guilty so we accept, welcome and congratulate her.”
He could not comment on whether any investigation had been instigated, but said if KaMagwaza-Msibi was found in the wrong, Zuma would take appropriate action.
The office of the Public Protector could not be reached for comment.
The Democratic Alliance said it was disappointed that KaMagwaza-Msibi had accepted Zuma's offer.
Spokesman Sizwe Mchunu said KaMagwaza-Msibi was another opposition leader who had been reeled in by the ANC with the offer of a high-paying government position.
“Ms KaMagwaza-Msibi has effectively sold out her supporters,” Mchunu said in a statement.
“Her supporters voted for her party because they want an alternative to the ANC. If people wanted to support the ANC, they could just have voted for the ANC.”
Mchunu said this indicated the NFP was more interested in securing positions for its leaders in national government than in providing better governance.
Mkhize dismissed these allegations.
“They would have celebrated had it been a DA person appointed,” said Mkhize.
He emphasised that this was not the first time that the ANC government had appointed people who were not from the ANC ranks.
“Inkatha Freedom Party leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi was appointed Home Affairs Minister in 1994. Ben Skosana, another senior IFP leader, was also the minister of correctional services, and Mosibudi Mangena of the Azanian People's Organisation was the minister of science and technology. The list goes on,” he said.