KZN premier returns all hale and hearty after collapse on stage

KwaZulu-Natal Premier Willies Mchunu had to be assisted to his feet by his colleagues after he collapsed while delivering the state of the province address.
KwaZulu-Natal Premier Willies Mchunu had to be assisted to his feet by his colleagues after he collapsed while delivering the state of the province address.
Image: THULI DLAMINI

KwaZulu-Natal premier Willies Mchunu returned to the state of the province address event in Pietermaritzburg on Wednesday afternoon looking the picture of health.

Earlier in the day‚ Mchunu faltered and collapsed into the arms of deputy speaker Meshack Radebe and speaker Lydia Johnson while he was delivering the annual address.

The head of the province was escorted off the podium with KwaZulu-Natal health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo and several other senior officials.

Leader of government business Sihle Zikalala continued with the delivery of Mchunu's address.

The premier's spokesperson‚ Thami Ngidi‚ told SowetanLIVE that he was "fine" and was treated at hospital.

A few hours later‚ Mchunu returned to the Royal Show Grounds where he gave a press conference‚ dismissing speculation that he was gravely ill or had to stop working.

Commenting on his health‚ Mchunu said his previous condition relating to a gallstone issue when he was speaker‚ "was something that worried me".

"Today I think there was too much heat and there were some unusual lights‚ so I felt very hot and I needed water to help ... and I realised that very late into my speech.

"I don't think it will require me to retire. I will retire when the time is right."

Mchunu said he was now looking forward to the next 72 days ahead of the elections in May and "timing myself because I don't see too much after the elections to deal with‚" Mchunu said.

"The main thing is handing over to the incoming premier‚ hopefully from the ANC. If he is not from the ANC‚ there won't be any handover‚ because any other party will have their own programmes."

The career politician said he had been working since 1968 but officially full-time since 1973.

"We have gone through many challenges‚ many episodes. I doubt if there is anything that has made me push myself too much. When you have gone through detentions and violence you have had in KZN - there have been many traumatising episodes in KZN.

"What seems to have happened to me today is that as you work‚ there must come a time‚ when you rest your body and rest effectively. Which I have not done. I accept‚ I pushed my body beyond resting periods."

He said‚ however‚ that work had been demanding.

Mchunu said he was looking forward to retirement but not to a life of oblivion.

"My retirement means retiring from the legislature and government‚ but not from the ANC and the SACP. This is not retirement from politics and I can say I look forward to it.

"Working politically among people at your own pace is different to working in government‚" he said.

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