Chiefs vote goes ahead

2012-02-18 11:05

Traditional council elections in KwaZulu-Natal will go ahead tomorrow despite IFP president Mangosuthu Buthelezi’s court bid to stop them from being held.

Buthelezi brought his application in the Pietermaritzburg High Court as a member of the House of Traditional Leaders, arguing that the provincial ministry of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs had failed to properly ensure the integrity of the voters’ rolls.

In papers, his legal team asked for a postponement and that KwaZulu-Natal MEC Nomusa Dube revisit the process of validating the voters’ rolls. They argued that the process had been inadequate, with communities being denied enough time to assess the validity of the rolls.

In response, Dube’s legal team said enough time had been given and the process had been adequate. Her response was backed by the ANC-aligned Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa, which endorsed the process.

King Goodwill Zwelithini, the Zulu monarch, also endorsed the process, saying he believed the elections should go ahead.
Judge Trevor Gorven dismissed Buthelezi’s application with costs, but did not provide reasons for his judgment because of the urgency of the application and the need for an immediate ruling.

While Buthelezi has been at pains to argue that his application was not politically motivated, the institutions of traditional leadership – once the backbone of his support in KwaZulu-Natal – have been heavily contested politically.
Both the ANC and IFP have wooed traditional leaders over the years because of their influence over rural communities in the province.

The last round of elections for the House of Traditional Leaders in KwaZulu-Natal in May 2009 saw Buthelezi, the incumbent chairperson, withdraw his nomination. An ANC-aligned inkosi (traditional leader), Bhekisisa Bhengu, was elected as chairperson.

The ANC has, since then, strengthened its relationships with the amakhosi, who are increasingly aligning themselves to the ruling party. There are concerns in the IFP, whose KwaZulu-Natal leader Lionel Mtshali attended the court case, that these elections will further undermine the party’s influence if more ANC-aligned amakhosi are elected.

Buthelezi said his legal team would study Gorven’s judgment once it was available and consider the way forward.

Dube welcomed the judgment.

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