Anti-Shenge rebellion

2010-07-09 00:00

IN a move expected to have serious repercussions for the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) on the eve of its national conference, eight IFP leaders from eight different IFP districts have taken the IFP, its leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi and his lieutenants to court to ensure that the status of its forthcoming elective conference is not changed.

In a founding affidavit filed before the high court in Durban, the leader of the IFP in Amajuba, Sibusiso Brian Mbusi Lukhele, and seven others applied for an interdict restraining the IFP, Buthelezi and other leaders from postponing the elective conference due to be held at Ulundi from July 23 to 25.

The application also seeks to direct the respondents to refrain from taking any disciplinary action or making any threats against any of the applicants until after the elective conference.

Other respondents are the Institute for Democracy in South African (Idasa) and the Electoral Institute for the Sustainability of Democracy in South Africa (EISDSA) which are, respectively, directed to monitor and conduct the elections at the conference.

The order sought against EISDSA and Idasa “is not prejudicial to them”, reads the affidavit.

“No order of costs is sought against them. The order sought is designed to protect the interests of the electorate, to promote fairness and prevent any possible meddling by the second respondent [Buthelezi] and his sympathisers. This is aimed at ensuring a fair election process which is above reproach.”

The list of respondents includes national chairperson Veronica Zanele Magwaza-Msibi, general secretary the Reverend Musa Zondi and Mangaqa Albert Mncwango.

Giving the background to the application, the applicants said the IFP national council’s term of office expired in July 2009, but at the insis­tence of Buthelezi and his lieutenants, elections were postponed more than four times for no cogent reason.

“All postponements of the elections were occasioned under the pretext that the party structures were not ready and other trivial excuses [were given] without proper consultation with us as people on the ground. Among the reasons for postponing the May 2010 elections was that there will be a football World Cup in this country; yet when the dates were set, the football World Cup dates were already known, and neither is there any connection between the two,” they said.

The applicants said the failure to hold elections in July last year rendered “the national council and its executing members an illegitimate structure” whose decisions are not enforceable in law.

The application is supported by affidavits submitted by expelled IFP leaders, former MPL Wiseman Mcoyi and Nhlanhla Khawula, who are both staunch backers of Magwaza-Msibi to take over leadership after the retirement of Buthelezi from leading the party.

“Despite its illegitimacy, the national council, together with its executive members, continued to subject a number of the [IFP’s] members to disciplinary hearings and dismissed them.”

The applicants said the failure to hold elections will prevent IFP members from exercising their rights entrenched in the South African Constitution, as well as paragraph 2.9 of the IFP constitution, which provides that “any member of the party shall enjoy the right to elect and be elected to any office of the party at any level”.

Approached for comment, Zondi, who is also IFP national spokesperson, said he is not aware of the action, but described it as “absurd”.

“How absurd this thing is. How can you go to court to force someone to do something that he has been on record saying that he will do?

“As the IFP we had been emphasising that the conference is going to be elective.

“All the arrangements for the conference are based on the fact that it’s going to be elective. These people are drunk with money and they must not drag us to their madness. They can’t act in a kangaroo fashion and expect us to follow suit,” Zondi said.

KZN IFP provincial secretary Dr Bonginkosi Buthelezi disputed the credentials of the applicants as IFP leaders in their respective districts.

Buthelezi said that as the matter is before the courts, they will engage IFP lawyers “to respond accordingly to this action”.

Today and tomorrow, the IFP is expected to hold an extended national council meeting to prepare for the conference, following the violence that marred previous constituency and district conferences.

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