‘Politics, not corruption’, ousted Zungu

2012-01-23 00:00

IN-fighting within the ANC in Msunduzi Municipality and not corruption had led to the late Themba Zungu being dismissed from the council. So said Sihle Zikalala, the ruling party’s provincial secretary, speaking at Zungu’s funeral yesterday in the Pietermaritzburg City Hall.

“They (Zungu and other executive committee members) were not removed because they are corrupt, but it was in-fighting within the municipality,” Zikalala said. Though he was never charged with impropriety at Msunduzi, the flamboyant Zungu was involved in a trial related to an earlier spell as an uMgungundlovu district councillor.

Zungu, known affectionately as “Sathane” (Satan) died of a stroke at Edendale Hospital on Tuesday last week. He was 54 and leaves a son, Njabulo.

The ANC recalled Zungu in 2010 when the municipality had severe cash problems, leading to it being placed under administration.

With him went then-mayor Zanele Hlatshwayo, his deputy Mervin Dirks and other executive committee members.

“When others went to the media saying many things, Zungu remained loyal and sought to defend the ANC by raising any problems that he had within the party,” said Zikalala. Zikalala said the only reason that the councillors were recalled was to stop infighting, which had seen the Msunduzi Municipality reaching a point of near paralysis.

Zikalala revved up the audience by chanting the pro-President Jacob Zuma and ANC secretary Gwede Mantashe line “Sihamba noZuma asinamahloni, sihamba noMantashe asinamahloni”, which roughly translates as “we are we going with Zuma, we are going with Mantashe, we are not ashamed”.

He added that Zungu always sought to protect the image of the ANC, even at the risk of his own dignity and life. He said during the elections, Zungu would be among the few members who would go to former Inkatha Freedom Party strongholds that were no-go areas for the ANC, like Ulundi and KwaNongoma. “Thanks to him we have members in these areas.”

Attending the funeral were the ruling party’s top brass, its alliance partners and musicians. Zungu’s last wish, according to many leaders who shared the stage, was to see unity in the ANC and its alliance partners.

Cosatu provincial secretary Zet Luzipho echoed Zikalala’s view that Zungu was outspoken and frank.

“Zungu respected the organisation,” he said. “Even when he was removed, he obeyed the instructions of the organisation while others were thinking they were bigger than the party. Some even decided to leave the party.

“He was outspoken about everything in the organisation. We must learn something from his life,” said Luzipho.

Transport Minister S’bu Ndebele hoped that comrades would fulfil Zungu’s last wish and unite. Musician Mzwakhe Mbuli, who was among the mourners, said Zungu always provided him with transport on his visits to KwaZulu-Natal.

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