Premier to sue Mtshali

2007-11-13 00:00

A legal showdown looms between KwaZulu-Natal Premier S'bu Ndebele and IFP opposition leader Dr Lionel Mtshali.

The spat began with a statement issued yesterday afternoon by Mtshali alleging that Ndebele is using his position to build a business empire.

Ndebele has hit back with a defamation order he says will be served on Mtshali.

The statement said the IFP is aware that Ndebele's vast business interests include Nguni stock, dry rice and mushroom farming and even a Rainbow Chicken franchise.

“We fear the premier may have been making use of classified information available to top civil servants in furthering his private business interests. If this is the case, Mr Ndebele's conduct amounts to a direct conflict of interest.”

Mtshali went on to say that the IFP “has also been reliably informed” that the premier's initial capital came from a variety of financial institutions ranging from commercial banks such as Absa and Standard Bank to state-run Ithala.

“There is little doubt that the premier has enjoyed privileged access to capital funding unavailable to many aspiring private individuals. He may well owe his success in business to his position in the provincial government.”

Ndebele dismissed the statement as “wild and a pathetic attempt at attention seeking” by Mtshali.

He said that if there are business links, the law requires that there should be a declaration of interests, and his are accessible to anyone wanting to know.

Ndebele added that he “cultivates no mushrooms, cultivates no rice, has no Nguni cattle linked to government and has absolutely no Rainbow Chicken franchise”.

Ndebele also claimed that Mtshali made a reckless statement in the Sunday papers about his police guards, claiming they were from the former KwaZulu police.

Commentators say that the IFP's increasingly combative stance shows them positioning themselves for the next election. The party has openly declared that they plan to win back KZN in 2009.

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