Shelembe dismisses rumours of plot to dethrone ailing NFP leader

2015-02-13 00:00

NATIONAL Freedom Party national chairperson Maliyakhe Shelembe has moved to allay fears of a mass exodus of the party’s senior leadership.

The party’s treasurer-general, Helen Vice, resigned this week amid ­leadership squabbles as Zanele ­kaMagwaza-Msibi continues to recover at home following an apparent stroke in her Ulundi home last November.

Vice’s resignation prompted ­kaMagwaza-Msibi to send out a statement to the media expressing her shock. This was the leader’s first communique since the apparent stroke.

Vice this week accused Shelembe of encroaching on her duties. However, Shelembe denied this saying that her accusations were “false and fabricated”.

Shelembe said he was aware of rumours that he had ambitions of rising to the presidential seat.

“When these reports first surfaced, I called Zanele and told her that there were rumours that I wanted to dethrone her and told her that it was not true.

“These are lies fabricated by a ­desperate person. There is someone in the party … a disgruntled member, who is trying to come between me and the president,” said Shelembe without divulging any names.

He said he had no ambition of being the party’s president. “I am satisfied with being the national chairperson because my biggest task is to unite the party. I cannot abandon that mission.”

Shelembe said he was instrumental in the making of the NFP’s constitution as well as ensuring that the first democratically elected leadership would serve two terms.

“As seniors of this party, we want the first president to ensure stability before another election. How can I now say that I want to be the president when kaMagwaza-Msibi is still serving her first term?”

He urged members in the party to stop using kaMagwaza-Msibi’s illness as a scapegoat.

“There are numerous people that ­resigned before she got ill and there will be several resignations when she comes back. This is a norm and it happens in every party, this is the nature of the game.

“People should not use her name to pursue their personal agendas. There are a lot of things she cannot do for the party at the moment but it does not mean that she has abandoned the party.

“She told us that her dream was for the party to be a legacy for our children. She said the party must function with or without her,” he said.

Shelembe said he doesn’t want to see the party fighting over positions like the Congress of the People.

“According to the [doctors’] report she is recovering well but doctors have not confirmed when she will be back in office. It is our duty it to make sure there is stability while she is still ­recovering,” said Shelembe.

• amanda.khoza@witness.co.za

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