Despite a chorus of protests around eThekwini Municipality’s recording deal with Zuma, the project is still on track and auditions for backing vocalists will be held next month.
The municipality’s head of Parks, Recreation and Culture unit, Thembinkosi Ngcobo, said the project would continue as planned but Zuma would not be paid.
Ngcobo said the recording deal formed part of the National Liberal Heritage Route programme which aimed to collect and preserve the history of South Africans in the struggle.
“We are finalising the concept for this project and very soon, we would call on auditions for back-up singers. JZ will not be paid; instead, he will avail his time for this project,” said Ngcobo.
He said his unit had an annual budget of R25 million for arts and culture activities and the amount was not for Zuma. The project was approved by the council last year.
Ngcobo said Zuma embodied South African history and the struggles faced by black people during apartheid.
“He never went to school because black people were denied education back then, but he did not sit back. He decided that he was going to fight the system which led to him being arrested and eventually sent in to exile. He never expected payment for what he went through during apartheid and he is not expecting payment now, he said.
Ngcobo said if any money was paid, it would be to the back-up singers. The recording of Struggle songs was not the only heritage project, he added.
“Our other projects we are looking at include houses, buildings and streets that are historically significant. Some of these will become tourist attractions. There are many activities which took place in townships but were never recorded as part of history. We have been trying to collect all the information so it can be preserved,” he said.
The Federation for Radical Economic Transformation, an association of various businesses, said it supported Zuma’s recording project because he was an important part of the country’s history.
Federation president Malusi Zondi said: “This is about the preservation of our history. Zuma was and is still loved by many people. Everywhere he goes he unites people.
“It is important for the current and future generations to know about his role in the struggle and his contribution to a democratic South Africa.”