Umvoti council brawl over Zuma photo

2008-01-24 00:00

A brawl broke out at the Umvoti Municipality during a full council meeting yesterday, after ANC councillors there challenged the mayor by putting up a picture of ANC president Jacob Zuma in the council chamber on Monday.

This lead to a brawl between Mayor Petros Ngubane of the IFP, who allegedly attempted to attack an ANC councillor.

The councillor reportedly called IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi "Gatsha", a name viewed as derogatory by IFP supporters. Police were called to monitor the situation.

Members of the ANC told Ngubane that they were justified in putting up the picture of Zuma, just as the IFP had put up a picture of Buthelezi at the municipality.

Ngubane said that the only pictures that should be displayed in the council chamber are those of the president of the country, the deputy president and the KZN premier.

"I also explained to them that the reason Buthelezi’s picture was on the wall was because Buthelezi was given the freedom of the city of Greytown. Greytown is where Buthelezi’s maternal great-grandfather, King Dinuzulu, was tried for high treason and sentenced to life imprisonment," he said.

Soon after the election of Zuma as president of the ANC, Philani Mavundla, the chairman of the ANC’s Bhambatha Region and an ardent Zuma supporter, said ANC councillors would move that the freedom of Greytown also be given to Zuma.

Mavundla said the brawl was the result of the IFP’s disrespect of government buildings as the IFP does not display pictures of all prominent leaders.

"At the municipal building there are pictures of past KZN premier Lionel Mtshali and former MEC Inkosi Nyanga Ngubane. We therefore feel we have a right to erect a picture of our ANC president Jacob Zuma on the wall and we invite the DA to put up a picture of DA leader Helen Zille," said Mavundla.

The mayor could not be reached for comment yesterday afternoon.

The ANC has said they will also look at a recommendation by the IFP to change the name of Greytown to Bhambatha to commemorate the inkosi who led an uprising against the poll tax in 1906.

Inkosi Mbongeleni Zondi, a descendant of Bhambatha, said he supported this idea, as he feels that the road named after his ancestors does not give them due prominence.

thabi@witness.co.za

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