KZN opposition walkout

2015-11-27 12:00
New ANC provincial chairperson Sihle Zikalala (left) outside the legislature as leader of the opposition Sizwe Mchunu leaves the building.

New ANC provincial chairperson Sihle Zikalala (left) outside the legislature as leader of the opposition Sizwe Mchunu leaves the building. ( Ian Carbutt, The Witness)

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Pietermaritzburg - Opposition parties staged a walkout from the provincial legislatur, protesting against the allocation of the first seat to the Speaker’s right to new ANC provincial chairman Sihle Zikalala, who was sworn in as an MPL on Thursday morning.

The seat is traditionally reserved for the leader of the ruling party in the house, and had previously been occupied by Premier Senzo Mchunu, who was ousted as ANC KZN chairman recently.

Mchunu was not at the legislature yesterday, having attended a session of the National Council of Provinces in Cape Town.

Chaos erupted as the opposition MPLs shouted at ANC MPLs, who shouted back.

Speaker Lydia Johnson tried to explain to the opposition parties that the leader of the ruling party “always sat there”, but they were having none of it.

The opposition parties were also unhappy with the manner in which Zikalala had been sworn in.

The ANC chairman was sworn in as an MPL before the start of the sitting, outside the main chamber and where he addressed the media afterwards.

The DA leader in the legislature, Sizwe Mchunu, said “We had never seen a member being sworn in at an exclusive media briefing convened by an office of authority in the legislature at the expense of the legislature.

“This is a direct confirmation of what President Jacob Zuma said when he addressed the ANC conference, the very same conference that elected Sihle Zikalala as the ANC provincial chairperson when he said ‘ANC comes first’.

“Today the well-invented systems of the legislature have been compromised, violated and bent to accommodate political egos,” he said.

IFP MPL Joshua Mazibuko said the sitting had been delayed for nearly 45 minutes while Zikalala addressed the media.

“The rule says that if a sitting is in session, a member must be sworn in inside the chamber,” he said.

Mazibuko said they would not participate in the proceedings until they met the Speaker.

“We are already preparing a letter; we want to engage her on these issues,” he said.

NFP leader Vikizitha Mlotshwa lambasted the fact that Zikalala’s desk had a name tag which also stated his new position.

“I am the chairperson of the NFP in the province and leader of the NFP caucus in this legislature, but there is nothing on my seat saying that. What is so special about Zikalala?” he asked.

ANC provincial secretary Super Zuma “condemned the empty gestures by the opposition parties”.

“The opposition parties are clearly desperate to elevate such trivial issues above those that have a direct bearing on the lives of residents of KZN, such as the delivery of basic services and good governance,” he said.

Office of the premier spokesperson Thami Ngwenya said the premier would not be able to respond to questions on the matter yesterday.

Political analyst Xolani Dube said the allocation of the first seat in the legislature to Zikalala might create the perception that he was ascending to power.

“It creates the perception that this undermines Mchunu’s premiership, but it is not reality,” he said.

Dube said it was up to the ANC to decide who would lead the party in the legislature. The seat taken by Zikalala was the one used by the leader of the ruling party in the house.

• sabelo.nsele@witness.co.za

THE ANC in the legislature maintained its stance that it was not worried by there being two centres of power.

Senior leader Willies Mchunu said there was no confusion between the roles to be played by Premier Senzo Mchunu and newly sworn in MPL Sihle Zikalala, the leader of the ANC caucus.

“The premier is the leader of government and Zikalala is the leader of the party, so there should be no confusion there,” he said.

Mchunu would not be drawn to comment on whether Zikalala would be given an executive role in the government.

The ANC Youth League in the province had said that it wanted Zikalala to have a senior position in government, and “not occupy back benches”.

Zikalala said he would work with the ANC collective and opposition parties to better the lives of the people of KwaZulu-Natal.

“We have always worked as a collective. The ANC in the legislature has always distinguished itself as a party that works with all parties to better the lives of the people of KZN,” he said.

Read more on:    pietermartizburg

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