Former President Jacob Zuma Signs Record Deal, Soon To Release His First Album
South Africa’s ex-President Jacob Zuma is embroiled in a new political row – after signing an unexpected record deal.
The eThekwini district agreed to fund an album of protest songs sung by him, which officials said would preserve an aspect of cultural heritage.
But South Africa’s opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), has branded the move a waste of resources.
Mr Zuma often sings his trademark tune, Bring Me My Machine Gun, at rallies.
eThekwini incorporates the coastal city of Durban and surrounding towns in KwaZulu-Natal, Mr Zuma’s home province and the heartland of his support base.
Local DA leader Zwakele Mncwango argued that the area’s government resources should be used to help young people launch careers in music.
“We’re for promoting of culture and heritage. Our problem is when the municipality is wasting money on a former president who is trying his luck on the music industry, while we have upcoming artists who need assistance,” local outlet eNCA quoted him as saying.
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DA councillor Nicole Graham said the party would “fight this matter tooth and nail,” saying: “It is impossible that any rational person would believe that a corrupt and disgraced former president singing ANC struggle songs holds any benefit to the people of eThekwini.”
Mr Zuma, 76, was forced out of power in February 2018 by his own party, the African National Congress (ANC). He is facing several corruption charges linked to a 1990s arms deal. He denies wrongdoing.
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During the struggle against white-minority rule in South Africa, songs played a vital role in galvanising popular support, and boosting protesters’ morale.
eThekwini’s Parks, Recreation and Culture chief Thembinkosi Ngcobo said the department had suggested signing up Mr Zuma after it failed to find any recordings of the old struggle songs.
“We were looking at artists and trying to revive these types of songs. It was very difficult,” he said. “We tried to find any archived material that had video clips or any voice clips. But we could not find anything in the museums.”
At that point, they realised Mr Zuma was often heard singing the songs.