Voices rise above bickering
Despite the political bickering between those loyal to President Thabo Mbeki and ANC deputy president Jacob Zuma, a provincial choral event to commemorate the 40-year anniversary of the death of the organisation's former president, Albert Luthuli, took place at the Durban International Convention Centre (ICC) on Saturday.
A previously planned event for the ANC icon by the Department of Arts and Culture, which had been scheduled for Saturday, was postponed. The function was to have taken place at KwaDukuza - Luthuli's home. Insiders close to Zuma feel that internal bickering between Zuma and Mbeki sympathisers led to the function being delayed. Mbeki was scheduled to have been the keynote speaker.
"Those who support Zuma want him to own the celebrations around Luthuli's death. They felt sidelined and did not want Mbeki to steal the limelight as a keynote speaker. This function was called off because Mbeki was not available," said a source close to the Zuma camp.
But ANC leader Zweli Mkhize, who was acting KwaZulu-Natal premier last week, said the function was postponed at the request of the Department of Arts and Culture which cited logistical reasons for the delay.
"We were ready last week but were then informed by the department that the event had to be postponed. We agreed. There was nothing sinister about it. As the provincial government we declared "2007 The Year of Luthuli". We will therefore proceed with our own provincial events including a choral competition on Saturday and a multiparty debate in the provincial legislature."
On Saturday hundreds of people, representing 26 choirs from KwaZulu-Natal, gathered at the ICC, now named the Luthuli Convention Centre to commemorate the death of Luthuli - Africa's first Nobel Peace Prize winner.
Two new songs which tell about the life and works of Luthuli, were sung at the event. The song Indiva ka Mvumbi, by composer Simon Ntombela, outlines a story of determination; while the second song Zabalaza Madlanduna by Professor Musa Xulu is a historic epic.
Delivering the keynote address KwaZulu-Natal Premier S'bu Ndebele said: "For many years he was choirmaster at Adams College. Some of the music sung here today has been composed specifically to commemorate his life and works."