Protection units snub current IFP leadership

2010-11-04 13:16

Members of the erstwhile self-protection units aligned to the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) say they support party’s national chairwoman who claims there are attempts afoot to remove her.

“We are no longer supporting them (IFP leadership). We want the national chairwoman (Zanele Magwaza-Msibi) to lead the party,” SPU commander, Madoda Khumalo told Sapa this week.

SPUs were formed during the height of bloody political violence between IFP and ANC members in the 1980s.
They were disbanded in the 1990s but its members, believed to be over 6000, are still waiting for their demand to be integrated into the SA National Defence Force (SANDF), to be met.

Khumalo said they were worried that the IFP’s current leaders, including its president Mangosuthu Buthelezi, were eliminating Magwaza-Msibi from the presidency position race.

“We have a lot of respect for her. We know her capabilities and we are concerned that she is being elbowed from the race,” he said.

She approached the court this week to stop her party from hauling her into an inquiry which may result in her expulsion.
She also wants the court to order the party to hold its elective conference, which has been postponed six times since July last year.

In the court papers, she argues that she is being stymied in the race to succeed Buthelezi on his retirement.
Mary De Haas, a KwaZulu-Natal violence monitor said it was worrying that the former SPU members had decided to align themselves with a certain faction in the IFP.

De Haas has been monitoring SPU activities for years.

“Although the SPUs were legally disbanded, there have been a number of paramilitary trainings in Pongola, Eshowe and Melmoth done by people who claimed to be SPU members,” she said.

She said there would be serious problems if the contest for IFP leadership became physical because it was not clear if the SPUs were still armed.

“There were many arms that were brought into this province from Vlakplaas which were not accounted for,” she said of the farm used by apartheid security police to torture or kill opponents.
A small arms cache had been found, but it was a small percentage of the arms brought into the province from Vlakplaas, she said.

Khumalo said members of his organisation believed Magwaza-Msibi would help them to be integrated into the SANDF.
Hundreds of SPU members were arrested a few years ago after they camped on a farm in Pongola demanding to be integrated into the army.

De Haas said they also underwent some paramilitary training by people linked to the IFP.
IFP national organiser, Albert Mncwango said the SPU’s campaign to support Magwaza-Msibi was only led by a few individuals.

“It is just an assembly of a few individuals,” he said, adding that they were disbanded in 1992.

“I know that they still claim to be a legal body but they are not. It is not legal to have a military formation,” he said.
Mncwango said he interacted with the SPUs.

“I don’t interact with them as a member of the IFP but as a member of Parliament who serves in the defence portfolio committee,” he said.

He said he had tried to have them integrated into the army.

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