Buthelezi tears into ANC-led eThekwini municipality after conference is postponed for second time

Picture credit: ESA  ALEXANDER.
Picture credit: ESA ALEXANDER.

A fuming Inkatha Freedom Party president‚ Mangosuthu Buthelezi‚ has claimed that the “ANC’s history of broken promises” is the real reason why he was snubbed twice by the eThekwini municipality from speaking at a workshop aimed at fostering social cohesion.

“I am not a fool‚” said Buthelezi following the sudden cancellation of the eThekwini Municipality’s Social Cohesion Conference which he was due to open at Coastlands Hotel uMhlanga on Monday morning.

Buthelezi tore into the municipality for cancelling the two day conference at the last minute — which he said would amount to thousands of rand in wasteful expenditure of taxpayers’ money. He stopped short of saying the conference was cancelled because some politicians did not want him to speak.

It is a well known fact that Buthelezi and ANC president Jacob Zuma have an acrimonious relationship‚ and that city mayor Zandile Gumede — under whose auspices the conference was arranged — is pro-Zuma.

 Buthelezi provided two invitations from Thembinkosi Ngcobo‚ the city’s head of parks‚ recreation and culture unity.

The first invitation from Ngcobo dated April 12 invites Buthelezi to the conference to be held at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli Convention Centre on May 30 where he would be allocated an hour to speak.

However‚ on May 19‚ Ngcobo informed Buthelezi of the postponement and the new date was moved to June 19 when Buthelezi would instead open the conference.

“Just after 8pm last night (Monday) the city manager [Sipho Nzuza] contacted the head of parks‚ recreation and culture unity giving a directive that he was not to proceed with the event.

“Despite the speakers and participants being in Durban already‚ despite the venue having been hired for the three-day conference‚ the whole event was being cancelled‚” said Buthelezi.

Buthelezi said he had accepted the new date and made preparations accordingly.

He said he was acutely aware of the need for events of this nature to address social fragmentation in eThekwini and KwaZulu-Natal in general.

“I have pursued social cohesion and reconciliation for several decades. I have much to say on the matter. But apparently someone higher up in the chain of command doesn’t want to hear what Mangosuthu Buthelezi has to say‚” he said.

“I cannot understand why I was invited in the first place if there is no political will to see things through. What is the point of a conference on social cohesion when those who pull the strings in KwaZulu-Natal are dead set obstructing reconciliation?” said Buthelezi.

“I am not a fool. I have interacted with the ANC leadership in this province for long enough to have noticed a pattern of behaviour‚ ” he said.

Buthelezi then cited a history of broken promises from the ANC to work towards reconciliation but said that all had faltered because someone up in the organisation had stopped it.

He recalled how former President Nelson Mandela was “almost throttled” by ANC leaders for meeting with him and the prospect of addressing rallies together.

Zuma was also not spared when Buthelezi revealed that in 1999 then president Thabo Mbeki had invited him (Buthelezi) to be the country’s deputy president‚ but that ANC leaders had demanded that the IFP cede KwaZulu-Natal to the ANC despite having won the election. He refused.

“It is no coincidence that the most prominent of those leaders was Mr Jacob Zuma. The same Mr Jacob Zuma who then became the deputy president‚” he said.

Buthelezi said he had no issue with Zuma.

“I have no grudges. But we all know things never went right for Zuma and he never finished his term. But I don’t laugh at another man’s failings‚ that’s why I also defend him when he gets insulted in parliament‚” he said.

The city issued an unsigned statement on Monday morning saying the conference has been postponed until further notice.

 “The Municipality apologises for any inconvenience caused to members of the panel and participants attending the conference. Once the new date of the conference has been confirmed‚ it will be communicated to members of the public and other stakeholders‚” read the statement.

Adverts for the conference were still being flighted on SABC radio stations by midday on Monday.

Neither Gumede‚ her spokesman nor city manager Sipho Nzuza responded to queries.