DURBAN – ETHEKWINI Municipality mayor Mxolisi Kaunda has stuck to his guns and defended his support for former president Jacob Zuma during the unrest last week.
Kaunda was berated by the DA in a special executive committee (Exco) meeting on Tuesday.
DA caucus leader Nicole Graham had asked the mayor to first apologise to the public for his Facebook post which showed support for Zuma in the midst of the looting and violent protests that gripped KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.
Kaunda’s Facebook post read: “We are Msholozi and Msholozi is us, release Zuma.”
The DA had described this as incitement to violence. Graham said it was inappropriate for the mayor as the head of the city to utter such words in the midst of the turmoil and support the person who was allegedly the cause of the unrest.
In his response, the mayor refused to apologize and challenged law enforcement to arrest him if his comment was deemed as an incitement to violence. He said he was not apologetic and vowed not to apologise to anyone for supporting the former president.
“It is not a secret that I support Zuma and if there is anyone of you who sees anything wrong with that, unfortunately, I don’t, so I will not apologise. Zuma has not been found guilty so what is wrong if I, like many other people, support him.
“It was white people who marched up and down along the beach here in Durban chanting Zuma must fall and nobody questioned or asked you to apologise for that because you were using your constitutional right. So now if I used my right in the Constitution you say I’m inciting violence.”
Kaunda said many people had found Zuma guilty before he was convicted by a court of law. He said he did not know what the hullabaloo was for because it was not the first time he showed support for Zuma as he had attended his court cases many times.
“Maybe it’s a question of understanding English, because I really don’t understand where in my post I incited violence.”
The IFP chief whip Mdu Nkosi also weighed in on the matter, saying that Kaunda, as much as he had rights like anyone else to express his opinion, had to be responsible.
“He could have remembered that he was mayor for both anti-Zuma and pro-Zuma supporters so there was no need to get involved in his arrest issues.”
The mayor received support from his chief whip, Sibongiseni Mkhize, who said he did not believe Zuma’s arrest was the cause of violent protests and looting.
He put blame on the never-ending lockdown and said people were fed up.
Mkhize asked the mayor to lobby the national government to end the lockdown immediately so that people could return to their normal lives and visit their loved ones in hospital.
“I differ with those who said people looted shops and burned down businesses because they were angry with the arrest of former president Zuma.
“For me this was long coming, but people saw it as an opportunity to vent their anger on the government for locking them down for almost two years.
“People lost jobs because of this lockdown.
“It was time to end it for good as we have learnt to obey Covid-19 protocols,” said Mkhize.
He further likened Covid-19 to HIV and said when the disease broke out people were not told to stop having sex but were given condoms, adding that it was enough for people to wear masks.
Mkhize made this call beside the mayor who announced earlier at Exco that he had contracted Covid-19 and had quarantined for 10 days.
It was the second time this year – he had reportedly first contracted the virus in January.
Kaunda told Exco that he decided not to go public this time and went into quarantine for 10 days to protect others.
“Those of you who had been asking where I was, now you know I was home because I wanted to protect other people,” said the mayor.