Former ANC president Jacob Zuma singing at the start of the ANC policy conference at Nasrec in 2107. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES/MASI LOSI
Former ANC president Jacob Zuma singing at the start of the ANC policy conference at Nasrec in 2107. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES/MASI LOSI

The DA in eThekwini has slammed the city’s decision to reach an agreement with former president Jacob Zuma to record his struggle songs.

The eThekwini municipality’s parks, recreation and culture unit reached the agreement with Zuma on Friday last week. Zuma will lead a yet-to-be-formed Durban mass choir.

The deal was struck after the city’s Thembinkosi Ngcobo led a delegation that included the creator and producer of popular SABC 2 soapie Muvhango, Duma ka Ndlovu; and Lamontville cultural activist Mandla KaNozulu Kheswa to Nkandla on Friday.

Ngcobo told a Durban daily newspaper that for the past two months, he had been trying to secure a meeting with Zuma to discuss the matter. He said the municipality had taken the initiative to record Zuma after noticing his singing talent on stage.

The former president is known for his good rendition of struggle songs, such as Awuleth’ Umshini Wami — the revolutionary song that became synonymous with his tribulations, and the anthemic Thina sizwe esimnyama, sikhalela umhlaba wethu owathathwa amabhunu. Mabawuyeke umhlaba wethu — a reference to the land taken by Afrikaners.

Ngcobo said Zuma, a strong traditionalist who is fond of singing, had readily agreed to record the struggle songs and the plan was to have him record in April. He said the initiative was aimed at preserving Zuma’s heritage before his death.

But DA eThekwini councilor Nicole Graham on Wednesday slammed the city’s decision, saying the record deal was “blatant patronage where the people’s money will be used to finance the former president’s lifestyle”.

“This proposal has not been served before any committee of council, nor has it been adopted by the council,” she said in a statement. “The DA has been calling for greater accountability and functionality of the city’s parks unit. The unit has seemingly gone rogue, abandoning many of its core functions in favour of flashy events and concerts.” 

Graham added that it was now clear the eThekwini municipality has become ”completely captured by the failing ANC”.

“While the history of our country holds immense value to us all, it is impossible that any rational person would believe that a corrupt and disgraced former president singing ANC struggle songs holds any benefit to the people of eThekwini.”

Graham said the DA will be writing to city manager Sipho Nzuza asking him to rein in the parks unit and put a stop to “unethical project ... The DA will fight this matter tooth and nail in the interests of all who prioritise service delivery over politics.”