Rift over Zuma invite

2018-06-04 16:00
Former president Jacob Zuma.

Former president Jacob Zuma. (File)

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The confusion over who invited former president Jacob Zuma to the provincial legislature has deepened.

Zuma’s presence at the Agriculture Department’s budget vote last month caused controversy, with opposition MPLs staging a walkout in protest against the decision to invite him to the House.

Officials from the provincial Agriculture Department said it was the department that invited him.

On the other hand, Agriculture MEC Themba Mthembu said no one from the department invited Zuma.

Mthembu is also KZN secretary the SACP, which had cut ties with Zuma over allegations of state cupture and corruption.

According to City Press, the SACP national leadership grilled Mthembu over the Zuma matter during the party’s central committee meeting held over the weekend.

In response Mthembu said the department had invited Zuma’s first wife, Makhamalo, and not the former president.

Mthembu’s response contradicted a statement by the department’s spokesperson Vusi Zuma, who said: “The former president was included in the department’s stakeholder list due to his passion for agriculture.

“What happened is that department officials simply invited all the people in the list to the debate. The MEC was not aware that the former president would be a guest.”

According to sources within the SACP’s top leadership, members of the party’s central committee (CC) are fuming over Mthembu’s decision to invite Zuma — a decision viewed as a violation of the party’s resolution to cut ties with Zuma.

“We have been defending this comrade [Mthembu] each time comrades in KwaZulu-Natal complained about his leadership style, which they feel is autocratic. We were all baffled by his decision to invite Zuma to the budget vote,” a CC member said.

The SACP, which is in alliance with the ANC, had been embroiled in a bitter struggle with the Zuma supporters over processes of electing ruling party leaders in the province.

In 2016 following the ANC’s 2015 “illegal” provincial conference, ruling party provincial leaders elected at the controversial conference resolved to offer Mthembu the Agriculture MEC position in what was viewed as part of attempts to heal divisions between the ANC and SACP in the province.

SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande, who is said to be one of the party’s leaders who had been defending Mthembu against those in the province accusing the provincial secretary of dictatorship, is said to now have turned his back on Mthembu.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  jacob zuma

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