ethekwini unrest riots

eThekwini Municipality Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda inspects the damage at a shopping centre in the small town of Mamdekazi outside Pinetown on Wednesday. Photograph: Lyse Comins

Unrest LATEST: ‘ANC owes the people of KZN an apology’ – DA

Durban Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda has come under fire for a Facebook post expressing support for former President Jacob Zuma during the unrest.

ethekwini unrest riots

eThekwini Municipality Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda inspects the damage at a shopping centre in the small town of Mamdekazi outside Pinetown on Wednesday. Photograph: Lyse Comins

The DA has lambasted city leaders and provincial government for their alleged “failure” in the face of “direct ANC factionalism and poor leadership” that led to the unrest over the past week.

However, the city’s leadership has rejected the criticism as “misleading” saying it was aimed to “tarnish the image” of eThekwini Municipality Mayor, Mxolisi Kaunda, who was working hard at rebuilding the city. 

DA caucus leader Nicole Graham had earlier asked the mayor in a special eThekwini Municipality Exco council meeting, to apologise to the public for his pro-Zuma Facebook post at the height of riots, looting and unrest in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng. Kaunda’s Facebook post read: “We are Msholozi and Msholozi is us, release Zuma.” He had refused to apologise. 

DA leader in the KZN Legislature Francois Rodgers said the ANC-led government was “nowhere to be found” during the unrest that has now led to the risk of massive job losses.

“To add insult to injury, it continues to spew rhetoric that what happened last week was criminal. Clearly it is in complete denial when what took place was nothing more than an attempted insurrection,” Rodgers said.

Indeed, at a national level, President Cyril Ramaphosa and Minister in the Presidency, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, have repeatedly said that the unrest was a “failed insurrection” led by people with political motives.

“Having spent the last four days assessing the damage on the ground, it is clear that events were not purely criminal. The DA’s visit to Cornubia on Monday exposed the discovery of a detailed aerial photograph, which had marked out all surveillance cameras in the areas and further clearly marked businesses that were to be targeted,” Rodgers said.

“There is also further evidence of numerous vehicles from the North West province in the area during the time of anarchy. This is not criminal activity. The attack on the chemical plant also saw all the surrounding fire hydrants destroyed. Can anyone with his or her mental faculties intact say this is criminal?”

Rodgers said that after the unrest he had also joined the provincial Legislature’s multi-party oversight tour to Kokstad, where not one window was broken, not one building was looted and there was no damage whatsoever. 

“Kokstad was unscathed – a prime example of true patriotism. Kokstad stood united in its diversity in the face of adversity. Business, taxi associations, farmers, SAPS, private security and ordinary residents stood shoulder to shoulder to protect their town,” Rodgers said.

“Juxtapose this with eThekwini and the failed leadership of Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda, who decided that it would be opportune to show his support for the architect of our misery – former President Jacob Zuma – at the height of the destruction of the city, rather than call for calm and the restoration for law and order. Patriotic support for Zuma in the eye of the storm rather than the people of eThekwini. Who the Mayor chooses to support is his democratic right, but the timing is clear evidence of his lack of true leadership ability,” Rodgers said.

“It is time the ANC did some deep and sober reflection, not only on their leadership but also on their now exposed factionalism which is destroying our beautiful province. The ANC owes the people of KZN an apology,” Rodgers said.

However, Mluleki Mntungwa spokesperson for Thekwini Municipality Mayor, Mxolisi Kaunda, rejected the criticism.

‘We reject this misleading criticism. The Mayor has done nothing wrong by supporting the former President. It is his democratic right. Anyone who attributeW his support for President Zuma to the anarchy that ensued in eThekwini last week is misleading the public with an intention of tarnishing the good image of the Mayor who is currently working flat out to rebuild the economy of the city,’ Mntungwa said.

A spokesperson for KZN Premier Sihle Zikalala had not responded to a request for comment regarding the government’s leadership during the unrest at the time of publication.