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ANC Chair Siboniso Duma Issues Apology Following Public Clash with Zulu Prime Minister Thulasizwe Buthelezi

Published March 18, 2024
2 months ago

The political atmosphere in KwaZulu-Natal witnessed palpable tensions as ANC chair Siboniso Duma publicly apologized for his confrontational exchange with Zulu traditional prime minister Thulasizwe Buthelezi, an incident that unfolded in the presence of dignitaries including Zulu King Misuzulu kaZwelithini and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.

During the commemorative event for King Dinuzulu kaCetshwayo, held in kwaCeza, Duma interrupted Buthelezi’s welcome address—intended to introduce the king. Duma's assertive action of seizing the microphone was a gesture to thwart what he perceived as Buthelezi's partisan criticism aimed at the ANC, particularly towards ANC secretary Bheki Mtolo. This action precipitated widespread debate among political observers and community members alike.

In a subsequent interview with Newzroom Afrika, Duma expressed his discontent with Buthelezi's performance in his new role as the Zulu prime minister. Accusing Buthelezi of failing to maintain political impartiality, Duma highlighted several instances that, in his view, exemplified Buthelezi’s unsuitability for his position within the Zulu monarchy's administrative framework, particularly when addressing the provincial government and ANC members.

Duma underscored the necessity for those in roles bridging the traditional and political realms to follow the precedent set by IFP founder Mangosuthu Buthelezi, who proficiently navigated the demands of such intricate positions without inciting discord. In the current climate, however, the ANC chair lamented the dissonance caused by the Zulu prime minister's speeches, emphasizing that such a platform should not be exploited for political ends.

Despite his apology to King Misuzulu and President Ramaphosa for the unfortunate spectacle, Duma's sentiment did not extend to Prime Minister Buthelezi, underscoring the underlying strains between the two figures. Following the incident, discussions between Duma and Ramaphosa ensued to alleviate the friction.

Among the ANC ranks, views on Duma's intervention diverged. While some party members deemed his actions controversial, ANC national executive committee member Andile Lungisa lauded Duma's decisiveness in defending ideological borders against political interlopers.

The episode marks a continuation of previous bouts of discord between Buthelezi and ANC representatives, including a notable instance where Buthelezi took issue with former royal spokesperson Prince Africa Zulu, accusing him of partisanship towards the ANC. Such scuffles are reflective of the broader challenge of reconciling traditional authority and political allegiance within the South African context.

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