Buthelezi fails to stop KZN elections
Pietermaritzburg - IFP president Mangosuthu Buthelezi failed on Wednesday in his court attempt to stop traditional council elections in KwaZulu-Natal.
"The application is dismissed with costs and I am not going to give reasons for my ruling," said KwaZulu-Natal High Court Judge Trevor Gorven in Pietermaritzburg.
Buthelezi, who is chief of the Buthelezi clan, wanted the elections to be held later this year to allow for proper preparation.
He argued that the provincial traditional affairs department had not followed correct procedures in preparing for the elections.
After lengthy argument, the court ruled that the elections should not be postponed.
The elections are scheduled to take place next Sunday and it would have been a major blow to the department of traditional affairs had the court ruled in Buthelezi's favour.
Traditional council elections are part of the government's attempts to instil democratic principles in traditional governance. The councils work closely with traditional leaders on development and in settling community disputes.
Under the Traditional Leadership and Governance Framework Act, 60% of the council's members are appointed by a senior traditional leader. The rest must be democratically elected by the public.
Addressing reporters after the ruling, Congress of Traditional Leaders of SA provincial chairperson Phathisizwe Chiliza said he was happy with the decision.
"We are here because his majesty the king [Goodwill Zwelithini] asked all traditional leaders to encourage people to go in their numbers to vote," he said.
He said traditional leaders had no problem with the elections going ahead and they did not understand why the matter ended up in court.
"If there is a problem, we have structures that deal with issues relating to traditional leadership."
Buthelezi was not in court. The proceedings were attended by Inkatha Freedom Party KwaZulu-Natal legislature member Lionel Mtshali.
Arguing before the ruling, Buthelezi' s senior counsel V Gajoo told the court the election of traditional councils needed to be put on hold because the registration process was flawed.
"Checks and balances were not adhered to during the registration process," Gajoo told the court.
He said there was supposed to be an objection period prior to the certification of the voters' roll to avoid fraud.
Traditional Affairs MEC Nomusa Dube had certified the roll while the Independent Electoral Commission was still dealing with the figures, he said.
Responding to Gajoo's argument, traditional affairs' senior counsel A Dickson said the department had done enough to ensure that people knew about the process followed during the registration process.