Durban — President Jacob Zuma should have changed his Cabinet a long time ago, ANC chairperson in KwaZulu-Natal Sihle Zikalala said yesterday.
While addressing the Twelve Apostles’ Church in Christ during the Easter Service in Umgababa, south of Durban, Zikalala used the podium to bolster more support for Zuma.
Zikalala told congregants that those marching against Zuma would be disappointed. He assured them that Zuma would remain at the helm until his term ends.
“They must respect that he [Zuma] was elected democratically and he will not be removed through marches. If presidents were removed because of marches, we would have president each day . . . President Zuma will stay as the state president.”
Taking a jab at the numbers from the marches that took place across the country, Zikalala said those who marched against Zuma could not mobilise even a million of the country’s citizens. “There are those who are saying he must stay. Most of them are those who voted for him. The majority of those who marched did not vote for him. To those who didn’t vote for him, when we march to support the president they won’t like it,’’ he said.
He said while protesters had a right to march, they must be aware when exercising their rights that “others have rights that need to be protected”.
“I want to assure you that the country is at peace. We were able to survive difficult and challenging times. Now we have liberty and democracy. We have a constitution that protects rights of all,” he said.
Zikalala added that Zuma had a constitutional right to change his cabinet as he sees fit. He compared Zuma’s recent reshuffle to former President Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki saying that they too made Cabinet changes.
“Maybe one of the decisions taken by Zuma now are decisions he should have taken long time ago.”
He assured congregants that the ANC and Zuma were determined to bring economic freedom to black people.
“Even though we are on junk status, our children will still get free education. Our grants will be distributed.”
The ANC is facing an unparalleled revolt against a party leader in office. Calls for Zuma to step down have come from within the governing party, including from prominent stalwarts, the SACP and Cosatu, who had campaigned for Zuma’s presidency.
Meanwhile, opposition parties, civil society, religious leaders and unions took to the streets with thousands of their supporters to march against Zuma.
l Instead of tendering an apology, the ANC Youth League in KwaZulu-Natal wants to meet the hosts of last Sunday’s memorial for ANC stalwart Ahmed Kathrada to find a “solution’’ to the disruptions of the event by its supporters.
The request for a meeting with the leaders of the Active Citizens’ Movement was announced by the youth league’s Thanduxolo Sabelo yesterday afternoon in response to a letter of demand for an apology issued by the citizens’ movement this week.
The youth league had also been ordered by the ANC to apologise, with Zikalala placing them on terms at the end of the memorial, at which former finance minister Pravin Gordhan and ANC treasurer-general Zweli Mkhize were heckled.
Sabelo said that the league had written to the citizens’ movement “with the intention of finding a lasting solution to this matter that has been the subject of much public attention”.
He said the judge handling the high court application by the citizens’ movement to interdict the league from attending had suggested “negotiation rather than litigation”.
“Instead of going back to court, the league has sought a meeting with the organisers in order to reach an amicable solution,” he said.
Sabelo said the youth league was confident they could find a lasting solution that would “reasonably satisfy” both parties.
Spokesperson for the citizens’ league, Yashica Padia, said she was not aware of the new meeting request.
The organisation had earlier in the week turned down an initial overture from the youth league for a sit-down, instead insisting on an apology, failing which they would go back to the High Court to secure a contempt order against the league.
ANC KwaZulu-Natal secretary Super Zuma said they had suggested that the two parties meet to try to resolve the issue.
“I can’t claim to speak on behalf of the youth league, but we will try to bring the two together and have a discussion and see how [we can] manage these things.”
Zuma said Zikalala had apologised to the Kathrada family and the organisers on behalf of the ANC.
Zuma said they would first meet with the youth league leadership and then decide what course of action to take.
At this stage it was impossible to identify “who did what” and any action would have to take place after the meeting with the league leadership.
In an unrelated matter, opposition parties have slammed the decision by the SA Police Service (SAPS) to offer presidential protection service to Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.
They have described this decision as illegal, unconstitutional and “an appalling abuse of police resources”.
Zakhele Mbhele, DA shadow minister of police, said Dlamini-Zuma didn’t hold a position in South Africa’s government and she was not a visiting head of state.
“She’s just an ANC party official,” he said.
Cope president Mosiuoa Lekota shared similar sentiments, saying: “Dlamini-Zuma is neither a state president candidate, MP or in a statutory political office that entitles her to this special privilege provided only for senior state officials.”
Dlamini’s VIP convoy accompanied her to Sasolburg, Free State, to an ANC event, sparking questions about why taxpayers were still paying for her security as she was no longer the chairperson of the African Union Commission.
The SAPS, which is in charge of the Presidential Protection Unit (PPU), argued that Dlamini-Zuma was under threat, thus having to protect her.
Major General Sally de Beer explained that in terms of the PPU’s mandate, protection is provided to the president and deputy president of the Republic of South Africa, former presidents, foreign heads of state and their spouses.
“The chairperson of the African Union is afforded courtesies given by Dirco [department of international relations and cooperation] with the status of president and while serving in that capacity, Dlamini-Zuma was provided protection according to this prescript.
“Further protection is being provided to the former African Union chairperson informed by the outcome of a security assessment conducted and ongoing investigations in relation to threats directed at her personally.”
“For security reasons, the SAPS will not discuss or deliberate on any details of the security afforded to Dr Dlamini-Zuma, or in relation to the mentioned threat and security assessment.
“That in itself would constitute a breach of security,” added acting national commissioner Lieutenant General Khomotso Phahlane.
However, two weeks ago, the department of international relations and cooperation confirmed to the Sunday Times two weeks ago it had paid for Dlamini-Zuma’s blue-light convoy and security detail as a “courtesy” she had to use while doing party work since her return to the country on March 15.
The services were supposed to be extended to her only until the end of March.