Buthelezi’s power base eroded

2009-05-23 00:00

IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi’s power in KwaZulu-Natal is slowly slipping away as yesterday he was replaced as the chairman of the province’s House of Traditional Leaders.

Buthelezi’s party lost significant votes in last months elections.

During yesterday’s elections in the House of Traditional leaders for a new chairman, deputy chair and executive committee at the Durban’s Exhibition Centre, the IFP leader withdrew his name.

The IFP leader became the chairman of the House in 2006 when KwaZulu-Natal Traditional Leadership and Governance Act was implemented. Prior to the implementation of the act Buthelezi was the traditional prime minister of the Zulu nation since 1994 and his position was never contested in an election.

Buthelezi pulled out of the elections after the new chairman of the House, Inkosi Bhekisisa Bhengu, received 28 nominations and Buthelezi 24.

After Bhengu accepted the nomination, Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) provincial head, Mawethu Mosery asked if Buthelezi accepts his, but the IFP leader delivered a one-page speech before announcing that he would withdraw his name and abstain from the voting process.

“It is clear to me ... the collegial body of traditional leaders in the Zulu kingdom is not ready to speak with a unanimous voice and express a candidate for the chairmanship of the provincial House of Traditional Leaders which can unify all of us,” said Buthelezi.

He said that in the past when traditional leaders were united the kingdom prospered and when divided it suffered. The constant and sole tactic, said Buthelezi, utilised by those who opposed the kingdom and the nation has been that of dividing the traditional leadership.

“For this reason, I am not prepared to be used as a tool to divide our traditional leadership. Nor am I prepared to preside over a divided House or a divided institution of traditional leadership. For this reason I have chosen not to make myself available for election as chairperson … a position I have held since 1994, considering the position I held in the antecedent of this House,” said Buthelezi.

He added that if the House was capable of producing a candidate who can be unanimously elected in his place, then in the name of unity, he would pledge to cooperate with whoever as long as he or she receives such unanimous support.

Justice Herbet Msimang who presided over the election proceedings declared Bhengu as the new chair and Inkosi Impiyezintombi Mzimela retained his position as the deputy chair.

Leading up to yesterday’s elections the IFP had claimed that the ANC was “buying” Amakhosi to oust Buthelezi in the House.

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