Zuma’s IFP peace deal not welcome

2010-07-25 09:12

Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi has spurned

President Jacob Zuma’s request that he resign to bring peace to his embattled

party.

City Press can confirm today that Zuma met Buthelezi last Friday at

King’s House, a presidential guesthouse in Morningside, Durban, at the request

of Zuma, who flew from Pretoria especially to meet the 81-year-old leader.

The secret meeting was initially scheduled for last Saturday, but

Buthelezi said he had a family bereavement. The meeting was then moved to a day

earlier during the evening.

But Zuma’s peace efforts hit a snag when Buthelezi allegedly told

him that he was interfering in IFP matters and that it was entirely his and his

party’s decision for him to retire.

Zuma also heard that Buthelezi held him responsible for his waning

political ­fortunes and that the ANC was to blame for the dwindling ­support

base of the IFP in KwaZulu-Natal.

Reverend Musa Zondi, IFP general secretary, confirmed the meeting.

“I cannot give you the details and the agenda of the meeting, because it was

confidential.”

Zizi Kodwa, spokesperson for Zuma, could not be reached for comment

yesterday, but at least three IFP sources close to Buthelezi also confirmed that

the meeting did take place.

“Zuma thinks he can play some kind of unifying role in

KwaZulu-Natal because he is from here and is respected in both the ANC and the

IFP support structures,” said a source, adding that: “The problem is that he is

also seen by Buthelezi’s supporters as the reason the ANC is winning former IFP

strongholds in the ­province.”

These developments come in the wake of running leadership battles

within the IFP in which national chairperson Zanele Magwaza-Msibi and Zondi are

battling to succeed Buthelezi should the octogenarian retire after 35 years at

the helm of one of South Africa’s oldest political parties.

But the national elective conference which could have sealed

Buthelezi’s fate or give clear indication of his retirement plans hit a wall and

was postponed for the third time to September.

A faction aligned to Magwaza-Msibi went to court on Tuesday in a

bid to force the party to go ahead with the ­conference, intially scheduled from

Friday until today.

The court dismissed the application.

KwaZulu-Natal has experienced sporadic incidents of political

violence directly linked to the in-fighting in the IFP in the past week.

A top Magwaza-Msibi ally, Sbo Mnikathi, deputy chairperson of the

IFP Mtshezi region in Escourt, was shot dead on Tuesday night at his home.

Mthembeni Majola, a Buthelezi ally from the same area, was caught

by the community after the shooting. He was accused of being one of the hitmen,

and was assaulted, but saved by the police.

Another man, Bhekani Ngubane, was killed last Sunday at KwaMashu

hostel. He was a member of the Friends of VZ Magwaza, a campaign group for

Magwaza-Msibi.

Police have confirmed the two killings, but do not link them to the

political in-fighting in the IFP.

City Press can also confirm that Magwaza-Msibi may this week file

court papers in the Pietermaritzburg High Court directly challenging Buthelezi

if she regarded the special meeting of the national council seating yesterday as

unfair.

Her lawyer, Njabulo Maseko, confirmed his client wrote to Buthelezi

on Monday giving him 16 hours to respond and commit to a fair process. But by

yesterday, Buthelezi had not responded.

The move is seen as a direct assault on Buthelezi, because it is

the IFP disciplinary council that suspended her.

This will be the first time

that Magwaza-Msibi has openly defied Buthelezi in the latest battle for control

of the IFP.

Albert Mncwango, national organiser for the IFP, said the party was

unable to comment as the leadership was yesterday busy in a special enquiry

meeting discussing Magwaza-Msibi’s alleged misconduct.

However, Zondi informed City Press yesterday that Magwaza-Msibi

failed to ­arrive for the meeting.

 

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