The South African Communist Party (SACP) chairperson in KwaZulu-Natal, James Nxumalo, has broken ranks with the party’s national leaders after he said in an interview that he accepted president Jacob Zuma’s apology after the damning Nkandla Constitutional Court judgment found that he failed to uphold the Constitution.
The court found that Zuma violated his oath of office after he failed to comply with the public protector’s remedial action to pay a portion of taxpayers’ money used for non-security upgrades at his rural Nkandla homestead.
While the ANC’s top six officials and the party’s national working committee accepted Zuma’s apology, its alliance partner, the SACP, said Zuma’s apology was not enough.
Nxumalo, who is also an executive mayor of eThekwini metro in KwaZulu-Natal, holds a different view. He told the Mail & Guardian on the sidelines of the ANC’s manifesto breakfast briefing in Johannesburg this week that he accepted Zuma’s apology and as far as he was concerned the SACP did the same.
“We accepted the apology because we said anyone can make a mistake, nobody is perfect in this world. But the SACP is emphasising that we must learn from our mistake and move forward,” said Nxumalo.
However, SACP spokesperson Alex Mashilo contradicted Nxumalo when he told the M&G on Tuesday that the party never accepted the apology. He said the party wanted Zuma to take full responsibility and implement measures to ensure that such embarrassing moments did not become common occurrences within the alliance.
“We see the president’s apology as only the beginning and not the end,” said Mashilo.
There has been increasing tensions between SACP and Zuma over the past months. The communist party, which has been one of Zuma’s most vocal supporters over the years, is now counted among his critics. The party came out publicly to criticise Zuma’s relationship with the Gupta family – which has been accused by many within the governing party of capturing the state.
Two weeks ago, SACP first deputy general secretary and Public Works Minister Jeremy Cronin reportedly suggested that charges against Zuma should be reinstated so that he could clear his name in court. But the SACP issued a statement later to say Cronin’s comments were taken out of context.
Nxumalo was in Johannesburg to address the media about service delivery within the eThekwini Metro. This forms part of the ANC’s series of manifesto briefings in its campaign ahead of the 2016 local government elections scheduled for August 3.
In his presentation, Nxumalo said eThekwini continued to prioritise service delivery, and that the city had for the first time, after receiving unqualified audits in the past 15 years, received a “clean audit” in the last financial year.
“We have in the last 5 years managed a 95% rate in collection of rates and services and aim to increase the number going forward, and that helped us to narrow the gaps in housing, unemployment and other services,” said Nxumalo.
He added that rapid urbanisation and migration, especially since large parts of KZN were made up of a rural population, remained a serious challenge for the city with a R41.6-billion budget. Despite his achievements as executive mayor, Nxumalo is unlikely to be retained in his position after the local government elections after he was ousted as chairperson of the ANC’s most influential and biggest region in the country. His political rivals in the region want his successor to be the ANC’s Zandile Gumede, who is a close ally of ANC KZN provincial chairperson Sihle Zikalala.
Nxumalo is close to KZN Premier Senzo Mchunu, who also lost the contest for the ANC provincial chairmanship to Zikalala few months ago. Nxumalo and Mchunu have been associated with the anti-Zuma group and are said to prefer Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, and not African Union Commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, as the suitable candidate to replace Zuma as ANC and the country’s president. President Zuma’s faction prefers Dlamini-Zuma or National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete.