Greytown councillors enraged at removal of Buthelezi portrait

2008-12-09 00:00

Greytown councillors almost came to blows yesterday in an argument about whose party leader’s photographs should grace the walls of the council chamber.

Tempers flared in the IFP-led uMvoti Municipality after ANC councillor Philani Mavundla, chairman of the party’s Bhambatha region and a confidant of ANC president Jacob Zuma, removed the portrait of IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi and placed it in the boot of his car.

Mavundla’s car was surrounded by IFP members demanding that the portrait be returned.

Mavundla’s actions were prompted by the removal of Zuma’s portraits, allegedly by IFP members.

The arguments over the portraits resulted in the postponement of discussions over the resignation of newly-appointed municipal manager Hamilton Ntshangase.

His resignation follows complaints by opposition parties, the ANC and DA, over his appointment last month. They said he was found guilty of the misuse of R2,5 million of public funds while at the provincial Arts and Culture Department.

The removal of Buthelezi’s portrait was condemned by the IFP. Mayor Petros Ngubane said his “blood boiled” and he has instructed that the matter be reported to the police.

Ngubane said the ANC accused the IFP of removing Zuma’s photo, “which we have no knowledge of. We have blocked his car and it is not going anywhere until he returns our leader’s portrait.”

Council speaker Hitler Maharaj (IFP) said Mavundla had no legal right to remove the portrait as it is the property of the municipality.

“If Mavundla had a complaint about Dr Buthelezi’s portrait being displayed he should have followed proper procedures … We have reported the matter to the police and we are seeking legal advice on how to proceed further.”

Police spokeswoman Inspector Joey Jeevan said the police had “bare knowledge of the incident” and a case was not reported.

Mavundla said that only portraits of IFP leaders are on the council chamber wall after the IFP removed the portrait of Local Government MEC Mike Mabuyakhulu earlier this year.

Protocol suggests that only portraits of high-ranking government officials, not political leaders, should be shown in government buildings, The Witness has learnt.

thandom@witness.co.za

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