KZN ANC denies cancelling social cohesion conference

2017-06-20 14:20
Mangosuthu Buthelezi. (File, Netwerk24)

Mangosuthu Buthelezi. (File, Netwerk24)

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Durban - The African National Congress in KwaZulu-Natal on Tuesday denied that it was neither involved in the preparations of the cancelled eThekwini municipality's social cohesion conference nor gave an instruction to postpone it.

Inkatha Freedom Party leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi, who was to deliver a 40-minute opening address at the conference, has accused "a group of ANC members who hold an enormous power" for the cancellation of the three-day conference that was due to begin on Monday at the Coastlands Hotel in Umhlanga.

Buthelezi told reporters at a press conference in Durban on Monday that "apparently someone higher up in the chain of command" didn't want to hear what he had to say.

"The unadorned truth is that the ANC had nothing to do with the conference, nor felt insecure by a possibility of Inkosi Buthelezi addressing the occasion," ANC provincial spokesperson Mdumiseni Ntuli said in a statement on Tuesday.

Buthelezi said he had received the news of the cancellation at 22:00 on Sunday night.

"We were told, quite bizarrely, that no reasons had been advanced for the directive," he said.

'Evolution of imagination'

Buthelezi said, while there were those in the ANC who believed in social cohesion, "there is another group who hold an enormous power, who are determined never to see old wounds healed".

"The ANC is under no illusion that Buthelezi, as one of the respected traditional leaders of our country, has an important and strategic role in a struggle to achieve social cohesion," Ntuli said.

"A belief to the contrary represents a strange evolution of imagination, with no relationship with the objective reality," said Ntuli.

"The ANC in KZN is particularly concerned that the IFP leader conveniently did not see any necessity to engage with the ANC leadership directly on his concerns, but instead chose a 'confidential press briefing' to impugn and tarnish the integrity of the ANC," he said.

"Buthelezi has an obligation to familiarise himself with facts and objective circumstances relating to any subject matter before making damaging public pronouncements," Ntuli said.

He added that the ANC had called on the eThekwini municipality to investigate what had happened, and to take firm action against those implicated "in this image tarnishing saga.

"Those who will be found to have acted in a manner that constitutes a dereliction of duty must face the consequences of their actions," Ntuli said.

'Disciplinary measures'

eThekwini Mayor Zandile Gumede revealed, in a second statement on Monday afternoon, that the decision to postpone the conference was taken on Thursday last week.

She said that one of the reasons for the postponement was that, following the provincial social cohesion conference held at the KwaMashu Christian Centre at the beginning of this month, a decision had been taken that municipalities should take their cue from that conference's resolutions.

"The city had to relook at its pre-planned conference to accommodate the resolutions and make changes accordingly," she said.

Once the provincial resolutions had been factored in, the venue and programme - including guest speakers and stakeholders - would have to be revisited.

Chairperson of the community services cluster, Councillor Zama Sokhabase, said the committee had preferred a different venue that could accommodate more people, Gumede said.

"Unfortunately, we had to suffer the embarrassment for the cancellation, and this created an impression that such a decision was taken haphazardly," she said.

Gumede said she has requested city manager Sipho Nzuza to conduct an investigation into the matter and "institute disciplinary measures, if necessary".

Read more on:    anc  |  ifp  |  mangosuthu buthelezi  |  durban  |  politics

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