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Tight security as Mbeki visits 'Zuma's backyard'

By unknown | Oct 05, 2007 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Canaan Mdletshe

Canaan Mdletshe

Security has been tightened ahead of President Thabo Mbeki's KwaZulu-Natal leg of his presidential Imbizo to be held tomorrow and Sunday in Ladysmith.

More than 10000 people, including ministers, their deputies and the provincial cabinet ministers led by premier Sbu Ndebele, who is also the ANC provincial chairman, are expected to attend.

The ANC's deputy president, Jacob Zuma, will be addressing supporters in Greytown tomorrow.

It will be Mbeki's first visit to KwaZulu-Natal since firing former deputy health minister Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge and Scorpions head Vusi Pikoli.

The last time the president visited the province he was booed by Zuma supporters, many of whom walked out as he was about to speak at the reburial ceremony for ANC leader Moses Mabhida.

The supporters were still bitter about Mbeki's axing of Zuma as deputy president of the country.

Soon after the incident some senior provincial ANC leaders were fingered as being behind a plot to make the province a no-go area for Mbeki.

However, they were cleared after an internal probe.

Political analyst Protas Madlala said he was not surprised by the choice of venue for the Imbizo.

"KwaZulu-Natal is Zuma's backyard. So the choice of Ladysmith as the venue makes good sense.

"It is a softer area with little hostility. However, anything can happen."

Police spokesman Muzi Mngomezulu said they had put in place a water-tight operational plan to ensure the smooth running of the event.

"We will be extra cautious because of the presence of the president and ministers," said Mngomezulu.

Themba Vundla, the director in Ndebele's office, said: "We are not expecting any person to carry a weapon, whether it's traditional or a licensed firearm."


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