Former president Jacob Zuma. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency (ANA)
Pietermaritzburg - EFF and DA MPLs walked out of the House before KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala’s State of the Province Address on Friday, in protest against the presence of former president Jacob Zuma.

Members of the two parties left before Zikalala could deliver his speech, after demanding that Zuma leave the chamber, at the legislature in Pietermaritzburg.

Speaker Nontembeko Boyce re­ject­ed their demand and only the ANC, IFP and smaller parties were there to hear Zikalala vow to deal decisively with the chaotic eThekwini and Msunduzi municipalities.

In his address, Zikalala highlighted the two major municipalities as being troublesome because of lack of service delivery, alleged acts of corruption and lack of political leadership, and protests.

Zikalala said eThekwini, whose mayor, Zandile Gumede, has been placed on 30 days leave of absence because of fraud and corruption charges against her in connection with a R208million solid waste tender, had seen incidents of protests.

“We have taken a firm decision to in-source all critical services such as maintenance and refuse removal to ensure proper controls and improved levels of cleanliness in all cities, townships and rural areas.

“As part of addressing these challenges, the eThekwini Municipality will start a process of in-sourcing the refuse removal services from the beginning of July 2019,” Zikalala said.

He said in the coming months, his government would conduct public hearings in eThekwini, Msunduzi and other municipalities to establish the extent of lack of service.

He also vowed to clamp down on business forums who disrupted services when they demanded to be awarded government contracts.

Although he did not mention names, Delangokubona SA Business Forum has in the past held eThekwini and local private businesses to ransom, demanding contracts for its members.

With regard to widespread torching of trucks, Zikalala said his government would use all its machinery to clamp down on lawlessness in the province.

Zuma, King Goodwill Zwelithini and former premier Willies Mchunu were among the guests allowed by Boyce to sit next to MPLs.

The complaint about Zuma’s presence was first raised by DA MPL Francois Rodgers, who was backed by his EFF counterparts Vusi Khoza and Mongezi Twala.

The event started only after the two opposition parties had walked out.

Khoza, who had greeted Zuma as he was walking in, said the opposition was surprised when they saw bodyguards entering the chamber, followed by the former president with his wife, Thobeka Mabhija.

“The rule says no non-member must be inside the chamber. The rule said if a non-member comes into the chamber there must be consultation with all parties,” said Khoza.

Rodgers said allowing Zuma into the chamber without consultation was a bad precedent.

“This means I can now invite my wife to sit in the chamber and no one can remove her,” said Rodgers.

ANC chief whip Super Zuma described the EFF and DA’s behaviour as childish and said it “smacks of extreme levels of indiscipline”.

“Their walkout from the legislature in the presence of the Zulu monarchy, King Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu, is a sign of political immaturity and clearly being ill brought up.

“No matter how valid your point is, you never raise your voice in the presence of elders, in this instance in the presence of his majesty,” said Zuma.

The Independent on Saturday