NFP leader not coming back just yet

2015-07-02 17:05
Zanele kaMagwaza-Msibi (The Witness)

Zanele kaMagwaza-Msibi (The Witness)

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Durban - National Freedom Party (NFP) leader Zanele kaMagwaza-Msibi is not returning to office just yet.

Earlier reports said the leader, also the science and technology deputy minister, would be coming back this month.

The 53-year-old leader was a no-show at a regional conference held in Mkhambathini at the weekend that reportedly saw Msawenkosi Maphumulo elected NFP chairperson for the uMgungundlovu District.

Maphumulo told The Witness earlier the party expected the kaMagwaza-Msibi to assume her government post as of July.

Several other senior NFP members told the paper she was on the mend and would be returning to work in July. However, the deputy minister’s spokesperson Canaan Mdletshe said the doctors had not yet communicated to them on the date of her return to office.

When probed further about kaMagwaza-Msibi's health, Mdletshe said, “As the office of the deputy minister of science and technology, we are not at liberty to disclose [her] whereabouts at this stage and while we can confirm the recovery is progressing well and is at an advanced stage, we have not received communication from the doctors.

“The deputy minister is on sick leave and therefore no-one can act on her behalf unless the President feels there's a need for someone to do so.

“You must remember deputy ministers are not part of the executives, so much so that even when the minister is away, the deputy minister cannot act in the position. Instead, another minister can be appointed to act until the minister returns.”

KaMagwaza-Msibi formed the party after leaving the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) just before the 2011 local government elections. She has been on sick leave since November 2014 after suffering a suspected stroke.

Mum on illness

Her family and the party have kept mum about where she is receiving care, but a party insider who requested anonymity said kaMagwaza-Msibi was being cared for by specialists and close family members in Ulundi.

“The leadership asked for an audience with her and her husband Mandla told them she was not ready to see people. What I know is she is not living with her husband in Newcastle, where they own a farm. She must be in Ulundi where she is being taken care of by her mother and sisters.

“We know she is making attempts to walk and is talking slowly. She is getting the best care and until the specialists inform us she is ready to come back, we cannot keep going around telling people she is ready to come back. We were told she is not ready to be back in the office, because the environment is too stressful,” the source said.

“There is a faction in the party going around telling people they are defending Zanele, but we are asking ourselves - defending her from what? Three weeks ago they went to court wanting to be recognised as the official leaders of the party, but the Durban High Court threw the matter out."

Absence costing the party

He admitted the party had been affected by kaMagwaza-Msibi's absence.

“The confidence has certainly gone down; we just want our leader back. We took a decision that no-one must talk on her behalf. What people don’t understand is a stroke is a very serious thing, but people can come out of it, she just needs time,” he said.

Political analyst Protas Madlala said there were factions "because people are in the dark about their leader".

No one really knows what is happening and that is why there are all sorts of rumours flying around about her. The party should have been honest about her condition," he said.

He said kaMagwaza-Msibi’s absence was costing the party and it would show in the polls in the 2016 municipal elections.

“I have always cautioned against building organisations around personalities. That is what we are seeing here and in the IFP. The African National Congress (ANC) and Democratic Alliance (DA) don’t do that. But we all know the IFP is [Mangosuthu] Buthelezi and [Mangosuthu] Buthelezi is the IFP; the same with the NFP.”

Madlala said if the party carried on this way, it would perform dismally in the elections.

“I don’t blame those that are doing damage control by telling people she is coming back. They are under pressure from the media and they are trying to assure the masses all is well,” said Madlala.

Read more on:    nfp  |  zanele kamagwaza-msibi

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