Pappas vs Zuma: ANC-DA rivalry steals spotlight at service delivery conference

uMgungundlovu District mayor Mzi Zuma and uMngeni mayor Chris Pappas got into a public debate about the effectiveness of the District Development Model at the Salga conference in Durban on Thursday. Picture: Jehran Naidoo

uMgungundlovu District mayor Mzi Zuma and uMngeni mayor Chris Pappas got into a public debate about the effectiveness of the District Development Model at the Salga conference in Durban on Thursday. Picture: Jehran Naidoo

Published Oct 12, 2023


The political rivalry between the African National Congress (ANC) and the Democratic Alliance (DA) stole the spotlight at the South African Local Government Association’s (Salga) national executive conference in Durban on Thursday, after uMngeni mayor Chris Pappas had a public exchange with his boss and uMgungundlovu District mayor, Mzi Zuma.

The uMngeni local municipality falls within the district of uMgungundlovu, thereby making Zuma Pappas’s superior.

Expectations around the Salga conference were that municipal leaders were going to gather to discuss issues and solutions around service delivery, among other things.

Unfortunately, this expectation was not entirely met, as each municipality had 15 minutes to discuss the most pressing issues in the province.

But 15 minutes is more than enough time to start a fire.

With a full house inside the Elangeni Conference Room, Zuma stood up and presented the state of affairs at uMgungundlovu, but in typical political fashion, the DA could not leave an ANC sentiment unchallenged.

Enter Pappas.

To re-add fuel to the fire, the dynamite in a small package introduced himself as “Chris Passas” to poke fun at the protesters that staged a picket against his reign at uMngeni a couple of weeks ago.

Protesters showed up in the municipality with placard that spelled Pappas’ name incorrectly, according to the DA.

During his presentation, Zuma reported that the District Development Model, or DDM, which aims to centralise the government system, was working well, but Pappas rejected this.

In his response to Zuma’s presentation, Pappas said he wanted to raise concerns about the DDM model, which, according to the DA, is a tool for the ruling party to maintain power over municipalities.

“The DDM model does not find any expression or legal terms in government in South Africa, and one place where I must disagree with my district mayor is on functionality.

“Without funding, these things are just not worth the paper they are written on, which comes back to my first point around supporting local government as a mechanism of service delivery,” Pappas said.

This sentiment caused the crowd to grow even more rowdy than they already were.

Zuma said Pappas, who indicated that the DDM had no legal basis for service delivery, said those things only to take a political stab at him.

“I believe he is not correct; the main reason for that is that Chapter 3 of the Constitution deals with cooperative governance, in other words, how the three spheres of government work together.

“There are distinctive spheres of government, and each sphere is allocated their own funding, but they are interdependent and interrelated to give effect to the constitutional instruction of how government should work,” Zuma told IOL outside the conference room.

A majority of the municipalities that presented on Thursday complained about how the lack of funding from upper levels of government held them back in terms of service delivery and also painted them in a negative light.

A prime example of this was when Harry Gwala District mayor Zamo Nxumalo said he did not appreciate the recent report published by the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) encompassing water challenges in the province.

The SAHRC released its “KZN Water Inquiry” report in September and clearly wanted to make a statement by labelling almost all of the district municipalities in the province as human rights violators.

Nxumalo said the municipality was not approached by the commission upon compiling the report and only dealt with community members instead.

Another key factor that needs to be considered is the fact that the region still remains mostly rural, Nxumalo said.

“That report carries weight; it was all over the media and made it seem like we were doing nothing. If they interviewed us, we would have contributed to the report.

“They were supposed to say here is the bad picture, but these are the solutions. So when Salga is championing these things, it will be stuck in the heads of those making the decisions, like the president.

“At the moment, we are given a small budget, and for the remaining money we need, they [national government] tell us to get our own money. How are we supposed to raise money in a rural area?

“That is why I’m saying even the SAHRC must interview the council and find out why things are like this. Right now, everyone wants action, but you cannot put ideas into action without funding,” Nxumalo told IOL.

Zuma had different things to say about the SAHRC report, though, explaining that the government was approached during the compilation of the report.

“I appreciate the fact that before they generated the report, they called us, and I went there to account for uMgungundlovu in terms of water provision. What I am happy about is that the report does not misrepresent our presentation,” Zuma said.