Converts flock to VZ

2011-01-27 00:00

INKATHA Freedom Party councillors — including some in Pietermaritzburg — are flocking to join the newly launched National Freedom Party (NFP).

In Zululand region — the IFP’s traditional stronghold — the majority of its councillors and branches have defected to the National Freedom Party announced yesterday by former IFP national chairperson Zanele Magwaza-Msibi.

In Msunduzi five of the 11 IFP councillors are believed to have defected. Their seats in the council chamber were empty during yesterday’s full council meeting. Talk at tea time was that they had gone to the NFP launch in Ulundi.

Meanwhile caucus leader Dolo Zondi and two of his councillors, Bukelani Zuma and Dennis Ntombela, were summoned to IFP headquarters in Durban to discuss the situation. Only Candy Seymour, Rebecca Khanyile and Balozile Sokhela flew the IFP flag.

The defectors are rumoured to be Patrick Bhengu, Doris Hlongwane, Msawenkosi Maphumulo, Richard Ntuli and Zwe Magubane. If they resign, the IFP will lose two seats in the council as it will only be able to replace the three proportional representation councillors after the upcoming government elections.

In Zululand yesterday, Magwaza-Msibi received rave receptions in the areas where she used to be district mayor before her deployment to the KZN Legislature last year. In Nongoma 25 out of 35 IFP councillors defected to the NFP; in Ulundi, 15 out of 18; and in Edumbe municipality (Paulpietersburg), seven out of nine, including expelled former mayor Mpiyakhe Hlatshwayo.

The IFP has also lost a number of branches and constituencies in the Zululand region. Even IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi’s branch in the Nkonjeni area of Mahlabathini has defected to the NFP. Nkonjeni IFP branch chairperson Moses Qwabe said the decision to defect was taken at a recent branch meeting.

The NFP also gained all 24 IFP branches in Ulundi. Chairpersons from these branches held a meeting at Ulundi Holiday Inn before Magwaza-Msibi’s arrival and later announced their defection in a meeting with her. Their defection could also render the three IFP-led municipalities in Zululand dysfunctional until the local government elections, should the IFP dismiss them.

Themba Langa, the former chair of the IFP branch in the Mkhazane area of Ulundi, said they decided to defect “because IFP leaders are scared of democracy”.

“We warned them that if the national chairperson leaves, we will go with her, but they refused to listen. We are now riding the moving wagon, the NFP,” Langa said. Magwaza-Msibi started her Zululand tour by addressing a crowd of supporters at the Holinyoka community hall in Nongoma.

The sleepy rural town came to a standstill as Magwaza-Msibi, accompanied by a large number of police vehicles, drove through the town to greet her supporters.

At Ulundi hundreds of people gathered at the local taxi rank where Magwaza-Msibi addressed them from the back of a police van.

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