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KwaZulu-Natal MEC for agriculture and environmental affairs Mtholephi Mthimkhulu has praised the police for the professional manner in which they handled unruly IFP members who disrupted a government function.
Police were called to calm the situation on Saturday as heavily armed IFP members wielding traditional weapons forced their way into the function and intimidated residents of Ntabamhlophe in Escourt.
Thousands of residents had attended a poverty alleviation function organised by the department.
The department had come to hand over seeds starter-pack programmes to fight food insecurity in the province.
But the event was disrupted as the speaker of Mbabazana municipality, Silibaziso Jiyane, led an IFP motorcade on the streets in competition with the official function.
"The bullying and intimidation were not enough as Jiyane formed a small army that camped on the road, desperately intimidating people on their way from the event," Mthimkhulu said.
"The disruptive crowd was also joined by the mayor of Mtshezi municipality, Maliyakhe Shelembe."
Mthimkhulu said Jiyane and his entire IFP-led municipality were invited but chose not to attend the function.
He said they drove recklessly behind his convoy for about 30km trying tocreate a state of panic.
"The act of rebels was not new to us as there had been small scale attempts by heavily armed henchmen to seek attention from us by organising motorcades around our events' venues.
"Some of the disrupted areas included eShowe and Nquthu," he said.
Mthimkhulu called on the IFP leadership to take action against its disruptive members like Jiyane.
"Their actions may have negative consequences, more so as we approach elections," he said.
Mthimkhulu said residents were threatened by IFP local leaders at Wembezi township not to fill forms that are used to identify beneficiaries of seeds starter packs.
"Government leaders do their work without asking for a membership card of any political party," he said.
Mthimkhulu said the programme was meant for destitute households without considering their political affiliation.
He said he would request the Human Rights Commission and the public protector to conduct investigations in order to protect poor people from "bully cowboys".
Attempts to get comment from IFP local leaders were unsuccessful as Jiyane's phone was off.