Buthelezi grills Shelembe

2010-07-05 00:00

OUSTED uMtshezi Mayor Maliyakhe Shelembe received a hero’s welcome at the IFP’s KwaZulu-Natal provincial conference in eSikhawini at the weekend, despite having been vilified by IFP president Mangosuthu Buthelezi during his speech.

Shelembe, who arrived at the conference shortly after Buthelezi had finished his keynote address, was hoisted shoulder high by his supporters who sang his praises and pledged to die by his side.

In his speech, Buthelezi had pointed out that Shelembe and Okhahlamba Mayor Vikizitha Richard Mlotshwa, who was present during the address, were not being persecuted for being supporters of IFP national chairperson Zanele Magwaza-Msibi, but because they had transgressed the IFP constitution.

Buthelezi said Mlotshwa had used bricks earmarked for the construction of a crèche in the area for his own benefit and there were a lot of mismanagement issues raised in the municipality’s audit report.

Shelembe had done many unconstitutional things in uMtshezi, added the IFP leader, “and it’s rubbish that they were asked to step down because of their support for our national chairperson”.

He mentioned that IFP uMtshezi constituency secretary Mthembeni Majola had been dismissed allegedly because of his refusal to support the “Friends of VZ”.

The Shelembe group openly sang anti-Buthelezi songs and shouted slogans calling for the removal of amakhehla, or “old men”, within the IFP leadership.

As the commotion caused by Shelembe’s arrival was going on, a small group of Majola’s supporters near the hall where the conference was taking place started chanting and singing anti-Shelembe songs .

Police and security personnel hired to keep peace ence were alerted and formed a buffer between the two groups.

The chaos later subsided without any acts of violence.

The conference was characterised by the presence of heavy security inside and outside the venue. It was feared that there could be disruptions because most of the IFP’s previous conferences were characterised by infighting between the supporters of Magwaza-Msibi and those backing theIFP general secretary, the Reverend Musa Zondi faction.

Yesterday Shelembe confirmed reports that after the commotion caused by his arrival, he was called before Buthelezi and the IFP leadership and questioned about his media reaction to his ousting and about the commotion at the conference.

“I explained that the reason why I went to the media is because I was not awarded an opportunity to explain my side of the story before I was dismissed.

“Regarding the chaos at the conference, I never planned it and I did not even know how to react as I did not expect what happened,” Shelembe said.

He said he still has until today to respond to the political oversight committee’s call for him to step down as mayor of uMtshezi.

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