Nkandla visit: uThungulu DA members played it safe

2012-11-09 00:00

MEMBERS of the Democratic Alliance in the district did not accompany party leader Helen Zille on her abortive Nkandla inspection at the weekend because of safety concerns, a local party leader said yesterday.

DA uThungulu constituency chairperson Louis Fourie said members from uMhlathuze, iMfolozi and Ntambanana municipalities were not deployed for “their own safety”.

Zille and her entourage were there on Sunday to inspect the upgrade to President Jacob Zuma’s controversial homestead estimated at R250 million.

However, KZN DA leader Sizwe Mchunu and other local leaders were conspicuous by their absence. Mchunu said at the time that he had other commitments.

When asked whether local DA members had participated, Fourie said: “We took the threats made by the ANC very seriously.”

“For uThungulu members our councillors are locally based and could become targets.”

Mthunzi Khanyile, the DA’s deputy branch chairperson in Nkandla, told The Witness that Zille’s visit was not widely publicised among local party members.

He had hoped that the party’s top leadership — who had never visited the municipality in the past — would have caucused with local members.

“No one was specific about what exactly would be happening. We only heard of the event through the news. I wasn’t able to attend, but judging from the photographs in the media it became evident that a number of local members weren’t present.”

Khanyile made headlines in September when he indicated that the DA had left him high and dry in terms of his development goals for the party, although he would not give up on his efforts.

He told The Witness then that he was one of a group of DA members who started a branch in Nkandla in November 2011, which had grown from 25 to 240 members.

Khanyile said that despite the concerns raised at the time of his interview, he remained a loyal party member. “In every organisation there are problems but it doesn’t mean you simply leave, otherwise you will never stand for anything.

“If possible I will run for my post of deputy chairperson again.

“The party has not isolated me for talking to the press,” said Khanyile.

The Mercury reported yesterday that Mchunu‘s loyalty is being questioned by some DA members because he did not accompany Zille.

He has been accused of bowing to pressure from KZN premier Zweli Mkhize who had called him and Zille ahead of the Nkandla visit. The newspaper said Mchunu had taken strong exception to anyone questioning his loyalty.

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