Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane met some immediate resistance when he visited Nquthu in northern KwaZulu-Natal on Wednesday‚ on the party’s campaign tour ahead of next week’s by-elections.
Local traditional leader Fisukwazi Praisegod Hlatshwayo welcomed Maimane, but quizzed him on
what the DA was doing for traditional leadership and what the party would do if it were to be in government.
“In fact‚ I want to know what will happen to the traditional leadership if the DA wins? And what about the issue of the land?” he asked in frankness.
In response, Maimane said the party would follow the constitution of the country when it came to traditional leadership.
Hlatshwayo‚ however‚ was not convinced.
Nquthu is the only council in the country that failed to elect a mayor and other leaders after the August local government elections last year‚ as two alliances — one led by the IFP and the other by the ANC — deadlocked on several occasions.
This led to the disbanding of the council, leaving every seat open and up for grabs in next week’s vote.
“There’s just no way under the DA that we cannot recognise amakhosi‚” said Maimane‚ adding that party would ensure proper representation of amakhosi in governance and “will listen more to traditional leaders”.
Hlatshwayo pressed harder and asked why the DA has never contacted traditional leaders or said anything to them before.
Maimane’s colleague‚ KZN leader Zwakele Mncwango‚ stepped in and said the party was putting plans in place to thoroughly engage chiefs.
“For example‚ we have been discussing the issue of the remuneration of izinduna and we thought‚ perhaps‚ let’s first engage His Majesty the King. We recognise the legality and the legitimacy of the role amakhosi play‚” said Mncwango.
Maimane, who was also accompanied by DA MPLs Sizwe Mchunu and Imraan Keeka, presented Hlatshwayo with a sheep.
Maimane’s visit also forms part of the DA’s national #Change19 Tour‚ a pre-campaign of the party’s official 2019 national and provincial election campaign.
Other political parties are going flat-out to win over the municipality‚ with President Jacob Zuma also expected in Nquthu on Sunday.