Mayor: I didn’t join brawl

2008-01-28 00:00

IFP Umvoti Mayor Petros Ngubane has denied reports that he tried to attack an ANC councillor during a dispute between the parties over the hanging of Jacob Zuma’s portrait in the council chamber on Thursday.

Speaking to The Witness this weekend, Ngubane said he merely approached the councillor and shouted at him, as the latter was swearing, in an attempt to keep order in the chamber after chaos broke out.

He expressed his disappointment at the behaviour of councillors from both parties, some of whom stood on desks, shouted, waved flags and banners with Zuma’s image on, swore and violated council rules of order.

He said the debacle began when the ANC were celebrating Zuma’s victory in Greytown. “They made a statement that they would get freedom of the town for Zuma and rename Greytown Bhambatha.”

Ngubane said that he thought that the ANC would bring a motion to the council to this effect for it to be debated, but instead they just arrived with Zuma’s portrait.

He criticised the fact that IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi was called “Gatsha” by an ANC councillor, saying that it is a humiliating name. He said Buthelezi’s portrait was put up in the chamber when he was awarded freedom to the town for his contribution to education there, and not because he is the IFP’s leader.

Ngubane said they have been given no directive from province to hang Zuma’s picture in the chamber and said he told the ANC members they are welcome to hang it in their own offices.

“I don’t have anything against Zuma as a president of the ANC, but it’s not a good idea to hang his picture in the chamber until he is state president.”

He said that as far as changing the name of Greytown, there is no need to do this. “We don’t want to offend anyone, but if we changed it, it would probably be to uMgundlovane.”

Ngubane urged the ANC leadership at a higher level to contain their members at grass roots level and requested that they stop insulting the IFP, and said he will be writing to Zweli Mkhize for assistance.

Lennox Mabaso, spokesman for Local Government MEC Mike Mabuyakhulu, urged municipalities to not be selective when applying protocol as to which leaders will be honoured.

Mabaso said that the department had a meeting with the municipality regarding this, and received an assurance that the matter would be rectified.

“If allegations are true that the municipality has not adhered to protocol as promised, it will constitute a violation of state protocol and this will be viewed in a very dim light. The department will officially look into the matter,” Mabaso said.

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