ANC KZN provincial spokesperson Mafika Mndebele said they were engaging with Zuma as he had experience in different sectors and had in the past contributed to peace and stability.
DURBAN – The ANC’s KZN pProvincial executive committee (PEC) confirmed that it was in discussions with former president Jacob Zuma to assist it in the province ahead of 2024’s general elections.
Zuma was released from prison earlier this month due to a remission of sentence for non-violent offenders approved by President Cyril Ramaphosa.
The presidential pardon came after Zuma had been sentenced to 15 months in prison in 2021 after he refused to testify before the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture.
Zuma is also facing an ongoing trial, together with French arms company Thales, in which both face charges of racketeering, corruption, money laundering and fraud charges relating to the 1990s arms deal.
Last week, the PEC revealed that former KZN deputy chairperson Mike Mabuyakhulu had been roped in to assist the province ahead of the elections and he would be joined by other political heavyweights Dr Zweli Mkhize, Senzo Mchunu, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Blade Nzimande and Bheki Cele.
ANC provincial spokesperson Mafika Mndebele said they were engaging with Zuma as he had experience in different sectors and had in the past contributed to peace and stability in KZN.
He said Zuma had been approached to lead a provincial “cleansing ceremony” that would involve all parties in the province.
There are concerns that there will be an escalation in political-related murders as the elections draw nearer.
ANC national spokesperson Mahlengi Bhengu-Motsiri confirmed that the provincial ANC had approached Zuma to assist with the election campaign.
“There is no decision yet, but look out for our official communication on this,” Bhengu-Motsiri said.
The ANC is under pressure from the IFP, with the party winning several by-elections, and entering into a co-operation pact with the DA in KZN.
There are also suggestions that the EFF is courting Zuma. EFF leader Julius Malema met with Zuma at his Nkandla home in 2021 but there were no details provided after the five-hour meeting.
Mzwanele Manyi, spokesperson for the Jacob Zuma Foundation, said he would not comment on political issues.
An ANC insider said Zuma and Mkhize had successfully seen through the transition of the ANC to power in the province in 2004 at the expense of the IFP, and the party wanted to call on both of them to help ahead of elections.
“The presidential pardon clears the way for Msholozi. The remission of sentence led everyone to believe that he at some stage would get involved in the campaign. It is only a matter of time before Zuma openly campaigns for the ANC,” said the source.
Political analyst Dr Fikile Vilakazi of the University of KwaZulu-Natal said Ramaphosa’s pardon announcement had revealed a political agenda.
“This strategy might work for the ANC but not for the country, as there are people who might consider it an indictment of the party’s commitment to cleaning up corruption. Questions will be raised about holding Zuma accountable, the role of the judiciary and the president’s pardon, and how the party is now using Zuma to canvas for votes.”
Vilakazi said the EFF have taken a softer approach to the former president, with Malema pointing to the application of strategy to win Zuma over.
“The ultimate aim of the strategy may be to forge a strong coalition between the ANC and EFF towards the 2024 general election, one that is stronger than a national coalition of the other opposition parties.”