Durban – Former president Jacob Zuma on Thursday night accused “powerful” white business owners of using black people to mastermind his removal from office before the end of his term.
Addressing a dinner event in Durban, hosted by the controversial National Funeral Practitioners Association of South Africa (Nafupa SA), Zuma said powerful white businesses had used his own people to kick him out of office.
Nafupa SA presented Zuma with two awards on Thursday night in recognition of his service to the country. Zuma said his only crime was to spearhead radical economic transformation (RET) and expropriation of land without compensation.
“Whenever someone says something which white people dislike, he is attacked by the white establishment using black people.
“This means that we are not yet free because we are still under their control. They threaten you to such an extent that you end up avoiding being targeted by them,” he said.
He was presented with an Achievement Award for his stance on RET, and an Infrastructure Development Award for improving roads in the country. The event was attended by pro-Zuma groups such as the Delangokubona SA Business Forum, Unemployed People’s Trust and Black First Land First (BLF).
Numsa Investment Company chief executive officer Khandani Msibi also attended the event.
Political analyst Thabani Khumalo said he had initially thought that talk of Zuma being handed an award by the organisations was a joke.
“These guys are now seen as criminals by some and not as business people because of the way they operate. They’ve been in and out of courts, and they have been chasing away contractors from sites.
“Now when you hear them saying they are rewarding somebody for having done a good job, you ask yourself what job has he done. To me what they’re doing is just a joke, just a way of getting publicity,” Khumalo said.
He agreed on the need for economic transformation. “Black people, particularly in KwaZulu-Natal, are yet to benefit.
“They get given contracts to cut verges, but when it comes to big projects those are still given to elite Indians and whites,” said Khumalo.
On Thursday night, speaker after speaker praised Zuma and rallied behind RET and expropriation of land.
Zuma said that while he was the president, he had learnt that when “you talk” you are accused of being troublesome. He said what happened to him was similar to the slave trade in Africa where black people were collaborating in selling out their own people to Europeans. “White people don’t like when we say we never went to other countries to buy slaves. We did not conquer other continents and steal their economy.
“When you talk about colonial rule you are accused of being provocative,” he said.
He said he had addressed a cabinet lekgotla in January, before his recall, where he argued with economists who had said the country was a failure compared to other countries with similar economies.
“We were told that it was because we are thieves. My problem with economists is they don’t tell us the truth. South Africa had apartheid and it isolated us from participating in the mainstream economy and education,” he said.
He said it was unfair for black people to blame themselves for their failure. He said he had started a campaign to transform black people to the level of their counterparts in other countries through education and economic skills development.
“We have a huge challenge to bring our people to the level of people from all over the world who have not faced a similar challenge,” he said.
He accused policies passed by the apartheid and current governments of hindering black people.
“Because of these policies you have to work extra hard to be successful. These are the policies that have been passed by us, which do not open opportunities for us,” he said.
Zuma endorsed the organisations that hosted him on , saying that only their unity would uplift black people.
He also supported Nafupa SA, saying “Indian must bury an Indian, white must bury a white and African must bury an African”, by calling for the localisation of the economy.
Before handing the awards to Zuma, Nafupa SA president Muzi Hlengwa described him as the father of RET and said Zuma was a “tried and tested Struggle icon”.
BLF’S Lindsay Maasdorp told Zuma that the BLF would engage vigorously in the struggle to occupy white-owned land.
Meanwhile, Marius du Plessis, Avbob spokesperson, said they believed that every organisation had its right to do whatever it wanted.
“We can’t say whether they should or shouldn’t give former president Jacob Zuma an award or whether it’s right or wrong. To us it’s immaterial, that is their right and they can exercise their right,” Du Plessis said.
He said the threats by Nafupa SA to Avbob and other big funeral industry players was unfortunate because they had nothing against Nafupa SA as an association, although they were against their methods.
“They have threatened us with violence and intimidation and all we’ve been saying all along is that we just want to exercise our constitutional right to conduct business like any other organisation.
“We just want our clients, both policyholders and non-policyholders, to exercise their freedom of choice. We’ve said in the past that we’re willing to enter into meaningful discussions with them. Unfortunately, so far that hasn’t happened, for a variety of reasons,” Du Plessis said.
Avbob was recently granted an interdict by the Durban High Court to stop Nafupa SA from intimidating its employees or interfering with its business practices.