Musa Zondi’s grand plan to end poverty

Published Jun 20, 2024


Durban — Veteran IFP politician Musa Zondi who has made a stunning comeback into the public spotlight following his retirement from politics more than a decade ago, says he is ready to change the lives of the people of KwaZulu-Natal.

Zondi was unveiled as the new MEC for the powerful and influential Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (Edtea) portfolio in KwaZulu-Natal by newly elected IFP Premier Thami Ntuli on Tuesday.

In a candid interview with the Daily News, Zondi said he was ready to hit the ground running.

“My only objective as I take the new role is to change the lives of the people in our province. I want to contribute to the change that I want to see happening in my province.”

Citing rampant corruption in the public sector, grinding poverty, and inequality plaguing the country, Zondi conceded it would be an uphill battle.

“I believe that the team of MECs will work together and change the plight of the people. I am hoping that all the parties will put aside their ideological differences and work together to better the lives of the millions of KwaZulu-Natal residents. Seeing all the challenges in the province I can say that a daunting task lies ahead.”

Reflecting on his deployment, Zondi said: “Poverty is endemic in our province. Throughout the country, there is an economic slump. We need to put our shoulder to the wheel to get all the elements that constitute the engine of our country working again.”

Looking at the journey ahead, the soft-spoken cleric said: “During our tenure, we’ll focus our attention on the poorest of the poor, particularly those on the margins of society. People in rural areas still living in shacks will be our priority.”

“But most important is that we must create a climate conducive for business to forge economic growth because no government throughout the world creates wealth; they create the framework for business and the economy to thrive.”

By virtue of being the MEC for Edtea, Zondi is the leader of government business.

Among them are the Agribusiness Development Agency (ADA), Dube Trade Port Corporation (DTPC), Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, Ithala Development Finance Corporation Limited, the KwaZulu-Natal Gaming and Betting Board and the KwaZulu-Natal Liquor Authority.

Zondi is the most senior of all the new MECs, having been part of late president Nelson Mandela’s historic Government of National Unity (GNU) in 1994.

Mandela’s GNU saw the then sworn enemies, the ANC, the National Party then led by former apartheid president FW De Klerk and the late IFP leader Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, burying the hatchet and working together to ease the tensions that were simmering in the country.

Mandela assembled the GNU despite his party, the ANC, garnering 62% of the votes.

Zondi, a devout Christian, was once the golden boy of the IFP and was tipped to be the successor of the late IFP founder and leader Buthelezi.

The odds at that stage were in Zondi’s favour as he was the most trusted ally of Buthelezi.

Zondi, who hails from Nkandla, northern KZN, is a member of the Lutheran Church and chairs the Diakonia Council of Churches.

The 64-year-old politician served as the deputy minister of public works from 2001 to 2004 during former president Thabo Mbeki’s tenure.

Before that, he had served as the IFP’s representative in the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) for five years during Mandela’s GNU from 1994 to 1999. Zondi’s star rose higher after the IFP deployed him to the National Assembly for 14 years between 1999 and 2012.

He was once elected to the secretary-general position – making him the nerve centre of the IFP.

On Tuesday, the crowd erupted with joy with the women ululating as soon as Zondi’s name was called during the swearing-in ceremony.

Zondi’s reconciliatory parting shot was: “This is a new chapter for the province of KZN. This is a period of revival for our province. This is a time to unite and make our province great again.”

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