Irate first citizen storms out

Canaan Mdletshe

Canaan Mdletshe

Political commentators are urging ANC and IFP leaders in KwaZulu-Natal to put the people first and be more tolerant.

Their call follows the emotional outburst of IFP mayor, Mbangiseni Yengwa, of Umzinyathi, who stormed out of a government event in KwaZulu-Natal's Midlands on Monday.

The event was to celebrate the end of National Water Week. It coincided with the launching of a water-supply project in poverty-stricken Umsinga and was attended by land and water affairs minister Lindiwe Hendricks.

Yengwa stormed out with other IFP councillors because, he said, the minister had "gagged" him.

Political analyst Zakhele Ndlovu said that when politicians put their needs before those of the people it had a bad effect on service delivery and democracy.

"We must do away with such behaviour because it affects service delivery and will have a negative impact on our democracy in the long run."

Yengwa said Hendricks told him not to speak at the event because he was going to say something embarrassing.

"She asked what I was going to speak about. I said that I had prepared something that would outline the plight of my people. She then directed me not to speak. This was painful and embarrassing to me as a district mayor."

But water affairs spokesman Themba Khumalo denied the allegations.

"Protocol and time constraints dictated that only one mayor could speak and that was the local mayor, Felinkosi S'khakhane."

He said the department had a good working relationship with mayors and would continue to do so to make people's lives better.

"We don't want such a minor misunderstanding to cause tensions. I would like to believe it will never happen again."

But Yengwa is adamant that he was gagged.

"S'khakhane did not speak. All he did was introduce the guests," he said.