Dis­cord over Zuma song deal

DA threat­ens le­gal ac­tion if it goes ahead

Sunday Tribune - - METRO - KWANDOKUHLE NJOLI and LUNGANI ZUNGU

JA­COB Zuma will be among the thou­sands of ANC sup­port­ers who will be chant­ing Strug­gle songs when the party cel­e­brates its 107th birth­day at Moses Mab­hida Sta­dium on Satur­day. But it re­mains to be seen whether the project with a R25 mil­lion bud­get will go ahead.

Zuma was ap­proached to fea­ture as a lead singer in the metro’s her­itage project, but it ap­pears that the process got off to a bumpy start af­ter crit­i­cism from artists and op­po­si­tion par­ties.

Them­binkosi Ng­cobo, head of parks, re­cre­ation and cul­ture, whose depart­ment was re­spon­si­ble for the project, was Zuma’s backer.

Vet­eran kwaito artist Sandy B said: “As some­one who works with young artists, I be­lieve that ethek­wini should have in­cluded young peo­ple and vet­eran artists to share a piece of the pie. A lot of vet­er­ans and up­com­ing artists are go­ing hun­gry.”

Dur­ban hip hop artist Arnold “Ae­won Wolf” Phillips said he was “dis­ap­pointed and sad” that young peo­ple were not given the op­por­tu­nity to be part of the project.

“The city should use this op­por­tu­nity to em­power young artists. Get them to col­lab­o­rate with the pres­i­dent, and that way ev­ery­one ben­e­fits,” he said.

A pub­li­cist who worked with artists said R25m was an ex­or­bi­tant sum for one project.

Op­po­si­tion par­ties have vowed to pull the plug on the deal. DA pro­vin­cial leader Zwakele Mncwango said he had sched­uled a meet­ing with city man­ager Sipho Nzuza on the mat­ter.

He ac­cused Ng­cobo of run­ning his depart­ment like an ANC branch.

“We will not al­low Ng­cobo to use tax­pay­ers’ money to pro­mote Zuma,” said Mncwango. He said they would chal­lenge the move all the way to the courts if the mu­nic­i­pal­ity went ahead.

IFP exco mem­ber Mdu Nkosi slammed the de­ci­sion as “non­sense”.

“This depart­ment is fail­ing to cut grass where we live but has money to spon­sor the for­mer pres­i­dent. We can­not al­low that to hap­pen.”

He said the depart­ment should chan­nel money to­wards re­solv­ing the ceme­tery cri­sis in Dur­ban.

Jonathan An­nipen from the Mi­nor­ity Front said the record deal was just a ploy by Zuma’s sup­port­ers within the ANC in ethek­wini to help him with his in­creas­ing le­gal fi­nan­cial woes.

An­nipen said it was ir­reg­u­lar that the de­ci­sion was made when the coun­cil was in re­cess, thereby by­pass­ing in­put from the full coun­cil and rel­e­vant com­mit­tees.

ANC act­ing na­tional spokesper­son Dakota Le­goete said they would not sup­port any­thing that was against the law.

“If there’s go­ing to be use of funds for pub­lic in­ter­est, we will sup­port that. But we are not go­ing to com­mit the ANC if things are not for the ben­e­fit of our peo­ple.”

Le­goete said Zuma was ap­proached by the mu­nic­i­pal­ity to be part of a doc­u­men­tary about the her­itage of the city, and he was not go­ing to get any money for his con­tri­bu­tion. He said it was disin­gen­u­ous for peo­ple to con­clude that Zuma was go­ing to be part of that project be­cause there was no agree­ment or con­tract in place.

Le­goete said the party Strug­gle songs were the prop­erty of the ANC, not in­di­vid­u­als.

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