eThekwini mayor Mxolisi Kaunda digs in heels over pro-Zuma post
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DURBAN - ETHEKWINI mayor Mxolisi Kaunda has defended his pro-Jacob Zuma social media post which came amid the riots in KwaZulu-Natal apparently triggered by sympathisers of the former president.
This comes as the ANC in KZN has proposed that the national leadership intervene over the Zuma issue.
The provincial executive committee (PEC) has resolved to submit “issues of concern” to the national executive committee (NEC), a move that follows after provincial chairperson Sihle Zikalala tweeted that the national ANC leadership had been approached to address the issue of Zuma’s incarceration.
Political analyst Sipho Seepe hailed Zikalala’s undertaking as being the action of a leader who was in touch with the feelings of the constituencies.
While the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry said food producers had been forced to close shop in fear of the ongoing looting, both the DA and ANC have slammed the mayor for “reckless political opportunism”.
Shortly after violent protests erupted at the weekend, Kaunda posted on his Facebook page: “We are Msholozi, Msholozi is us. #Free Zuma.”
A senior ANC source, who is connected with the PEC and spoke on condition of anonymity, said Kaunda’s remarks were being viewed by the leadership as “utterly irresponsible”.
“He sees that he is not going to be nominated for the position of the chairperson of eThekwini region and most likely may not return as mayor. Now he is desperately trying to score cheap political points, using a very sensitive and delicate situation whereby our province and the city itself are burning following what started out as a release Zuma campaign,” the source said.
Kaunda’s spokesperson, Mluleki Mntungwa, said Kaunda was opposed to the violence and looting.
“The mayor supports the former president in keeping with the PEC resolution. But he is totally against the violent protests,” said Mntungwa.
“The PEC resolved to formulate a set of urgent issues for submission and consideration by the NEC,” said ANC provincial spokesperson Nhlakanipho Ntombela, in response to questions from The Mercury after a PEC meeting.
“We are concerned that the NEC has been acting as if this issue is a provincial KZN challenge. This is a former president and therefore it is a matter to be addressed by the national leadership,” said Ntombela, who would neither deny nor admit if the proposal to grant Zuma a presidential pardon formed part of the submissions to the NEC.
Zuma’s spokesperson, Mzwanele Manyi, said it would not be possible at this stage for the former president to seek a presidential pardon since he had questioned the legitimacy of the sentence in relation to the alleged crime.
Asked to comment on suggestions that the foundation should issue a statement on behalf of Zuma to call for calm, Manyi said the foundation had been asking the Pietermaritzburg High Court to suspend imprisonment pending the litigation by Zuma. “Even today (Monday), advocate Dali Mpofu is busy making that appeal, which would have enabled Zuma to prove once again he is a peaceful man who has handed himself over to authorities in a bid to avert a Marikana-type situation. Outside, he would be able to lead his sympathisers to follow a peaceful route” he said.
Seepe said Zikalala and Kaunda’s proZuma sentiments had the hallmarks of a leadership trying to distance itself from an arrogant ANC faction at the top and which was responding to the will of an influential faction.