Zille won’t back off on Nkandla
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KwaZulu-Natal - Police in President Jacob Zuma’s hometown of Nkandla are on high alert on Sunday preparing for a visit from a DA group led by party leader leader Helen Zille in what could turn out to be a bloody battle in the usually sleepy village of KwaNxamalala.
On Saturday Nkandla was tense, with a conspicuous police presence that included armoured cars.
The ANC was set to have a night vigil outside Zuma’s homestead on Saturday night as the party prepared to drive Zille and the DA out on Sunday, regional chairman Thulani Mashaba confirmed.
Zille and other DA heavyweights are due in Nkandla to inspect improvements to the president’s private residence which has reportedly been upgraded at a cost of more than R200 million in public funds.
Our news team was escorted inside Zuma’s homestead, although we were ordered to leave all photographic equipment in a car parked outside.
The team was also ordered to delete photographs of Zuma’s son Edward Zuma driving his BMW X5, which had been due for repossession.
A Zuma supporter who identified himself only as Mbambo said Nkandla villagers were prepared to do anything – even employ black magic – to stop Zille from setting foot at KwaNxamalala.
“Zille is not welcome here, sizomshaya ngezulu (we’ll set lightning on her) because if we manhandle her, we will be arrested. But if she’s struck by lightning it will be called a natural disaster.
“In the morning, we will be outside the home, on the road, where we will be waiting for Zille.”
The SACP on Saturday said Zille was behaving like a “white madam” and threatening reconciliation.
The party called on the community of Nkandla to “protect the dignity of the president”.
The SACP urged her to take “personal responsibility” for any consequences arising out of her “racist, insensitive and extremely provocative actions”.
Zuma was in Nkandla on Saturday attending a family event, but is expected to be in the Eastern Cape on Sunday.
His spokesman, Mac Maharaj, asked whether Zuma had tried to calm ANC supporters, said: “I’m not going to comment on that.”
Maharaj said Zuma would leave this morning for the Eastern Cape. It seems unlikely he will meet Zille.
Maharaj said the Presidency had received a letter from a DA official stating that Zille wanted to deliver letters from Limpopo pupils to the president at his Nkandla residence.
“The director-general in the Presidency advised the DA that they were welcome to deliver any communication to the Presidency at his offices in the Union Buildings, Pretoria, or Tuynhuys, Cape Town, where the offices of the President of the RSA are located.
“To this end, he advised the DA to make suitable arrangements with his office.
“The Presidency notes that since then, the DA has informed the media that a delegation of their leadership proposes to visit Nkandla to inspect the upgrade to the president’s residence and the area.”
Maharaj said the Presidency had “always been steadfast in its commitment to maintaining courteous and constructive working relations with all political parties.
“In this instance regrettably the Presidency is left with the impression that the DA’s conduct smacks of a disingenuous publicity gimmick.”
Zille was adamant she would not abandon her visit.
“These threats are just further proof of the ANC’s contempt for the freedoms guaranteed in the constitution, such as freedom of movement and the right to protest.
“The ANC is trying to reintroduce ‘no go areas’. No democracy can tolerate that.
“We have no intention of going on to the president’s property. We will only protest outside.
“Any South African has the right to do that, considering that R238m in public money has been spent on upgrading a private home. Even more so given the fact that the president refuses to answer questions about it.”
Zille is expected to be joined on Sunday by DA national spokesperson Mmusi Maimane and chairperson of the DA Youth, Mbali Ntuli.