Black First Land First (BLF) leader Andile Mngxitama has apologised to former president Jacob Zuma for saying he should pay back the money.
Mngxitama, who was speaking at the BLF Black Caucus held in Johannesburg on Saturday night, said he had made a mistake by calling on Zuma to repay the money used for non-security upgrades to his Nkandla home.
Mngxitama, who used to be an Economic Freedom Fighters member in Parliament, was very vocal in calling for Zuma to repay the money.
“I made a political mistake and I am asking for forgiveness. We have never asked Absa to pay back the money,” he said.
Zuma got a warm welcome from those who had gathered at the Devonshire Hotel to hear him speak on radical economic transformation and land redistribution.
Addressing the gathering, made up of mostly BLF members, Zuma said the country was going through socioeconomic problems because of the dispossession of land.
“Our problems did not start in 1913 ... they started a long time ago. I don’t know why people should pretend it never happened,” he said.
Zuma detailed how black people were evicted from land by white settlers, saying laws and regulations were later made to normalise the theft of the land.
“There was no poverty and unemployment ... all of the problems started after people were dispossessed of the land,” he said.
Zuma added that, although the ANC had had 24 years at the helm, all attempts to allocate land to black Africans had been met with resistance.
“Ours is a sad story. We are not saying they shouldn’t have the land, but we are saying they cannot have the land while we don’t,” he said, to much applause.
Zuma said that although South Africans have political power, economic power and security remained a problem.
He said powerful countries were investing in their economies, in security and in power generation, including nuclear power.
Since leaving office, Zuma has received massive support from the BLF, which describes him as a “people president”.
The warm welcome chilled when Zuma left directly after giving the speech – not allowing for time for the personal engagement promised to those who had paid R350 for their tickets.
Zuma, it seems, had an 11pm flight to catch.
The resultant commotion had to be dealt with by senior BLF members.