Numsa president: Zuma benefited from Nkandla, he must resign

A 'Sunday Times' survey revealed that 51% of registered ANC members want Zuma to step down after the Nkandla scandal. (AFP)

A 'Sunday Times' survey revealed that 51% of registered ANC members want Zuma to step down after the Nkandla scandal. (AFP)

National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa's  (Numsa's) newly elected president Andrew Chirwa said on Tuesday the union should call on President Jacob Zuma to resign, following the Nkandla scandal, to defend the legacy of late former president Nelson Mandela.

In his opening speech of the union's special congress on Tuesday, and while still acting president, Chirwa made the call after a Sunday Times survey revealed that 51% of registered ANC members want Zuma to step down after it emerged that over R200-million of state funds was used to upgrade his Nkandla homestead.

"We need to deal with this Nkandla saga. Numsa has condemned this misuse and theft of public funds. Should we not ask that President Zuma resign in the interest of the poorest of the poor of our people?

"Must we not ask that Zuma resign to preserve the legacy of Nelson Mandela, who said our people should be prioritised.
We should ask in this conference perhaps that our own President Jacob Zuma who benefited must resign," said Chirwa.

He said the Nkandla saga was an indictment on those still trapped in poverty.

Earlier, Chirwa also launched a scathing attack at the South African Communist Party (SACP) boss and Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande for abandoning the struggle for socialism, saying he has now become the big defender of the right-wing agenda.

He questioned why the SACP, instead of finding the root cause of the booing of Zuma at the memorial held for Mandela last week, was calling for a commission of inquiry into the incident. 

"The SACP now wants to spend resources to find out who was leading the booing. That is the analysis we are given [under Nzimande's leadership]. Instead of the SACP asking what gave rise to the booing, why couldn't they wait for guests to leave, they are asking for a tribunal. We are opposed to communists who are giving a left-wing cover to a neoliberal agenda in a capitalist state," said Chirwa.

Chirwa also accused Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini for acting above Cosatu's constitution after he failed to convene a special congress, as demanded by nine of the trade union federation's affiliates to deal with the suspension of general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi.

Meanwhile, Chirwa was nominated uncontested for the position of Numsa president, and took the seat. The position was left vacant after the resignation of Cedric Gina because of differences on policy directions taken by the ANC.

Current Numsa second deputy president Christine Olivier will take over from Chirwa as the first deputy president after she was nominated uncontested.

Basil Cele, current regional chairperson of Numsa in KwaZulu-Natal, was nominated uncontested for the position of second deputy president.

Cosatu affiliates not attending the national executive committee include the National Union of Mineworkers, the South African Democratic Teachers' Union, and the National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union. The three unions are aligned to Dlamini.

The special congress continues.

Matuma Letsoalo

Matuma Letsoalo

Matuma Letsoalo is the political editor of the Mail & Guardian. He joined the newspaper in 2003 and has won numerous awards since then, including the regional award for Vodacom Journalist of the Year in the economics and finance category in 2015, SA Journalist of the Year in 2011, the Mondi Shanduka SA Story of the Year award in 2008 and CNN African Journalist of the Year – MKO Abiola Print Journalism in 2004. Read more from Matuma Letsoalo

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