Mmusi Maimane . Picture: THE TIMES/ALON SKUY
Mmusi Maimane . Picture: THE TIMES/ALON SKUY

DA leader Mmusi Maimane arrived in Nquthu in northern KwaZulu-Natal on Wednesday to campaign for his party ahead of next week’s by-elections — and was immediately met with resistance.

Maimane was taken through his paces by local traditional leader Fisukwazi Praisegod Hlatshwayo‚ to whom he had come to pay homage.

Nquthu is the only council in the country that failed to elect a mayor and other leaders after the August local government elections‚ as two alliances — one led by the IFP and the other by the ANC — deadlocked on several occasions. Ultimately‚ the council was disbanded‚ meaning that every seat is up for grabs in next week’s vote.

At Ward 6 in Nondweni‚ Hlatshwayo welcomed the DA‚ but wanted to know what the party was doing for traditional leadership and what it would do if it were to be in government. "In fact‚ I want to know what will happen to the traditional leadership if the DA wins? And what about the issue of the land?" he asked.

Maimane said the DA would follow the Constitution of the country when it came to traditional leadership. Hlatshwayo‚ however‚ was not convinced — forcing Maimane to try to win him over.

Maimane insisted that the DA recognises and supports amakhosi [tribal leaders] for the role they play in society‚ particularly in rural areas‚ but said accountability is vital because of the money received from the government. "There’s just no way under the DA that we cannot recognise amakhosi‚" said Maimane‚ adding that party would ensure proper representation of amakhosi in governance and "will listen more to traditional leaders".

But Hlatshwayo asked why the DA has never contacted traditional leaders or said anything to them. At this point‚ Maimane’s colleague‚ KwaZulu-Natal leader Zwakele Mncwango‚ stepped in. He said the party was putting plans in place to more thoroughly engage chiefs. "For example‚ we have been discussing the issue of remuneration of izinduna [advisors] and we thought‚ perhaps‚ let’s first engage his majesty the king. We recognise the legality and the legitimacy of the role amakhosi play‚" said Mncwango.

Eventually, Hlatshwayo backed down and welcomed the DA as they started their by-election campaigning. Hlatshwayo was presented with a live sheep by Maimane‚ who was also accompanied by the DA’s Sizwe Mchunu and Imran Keeka.

Maimane’s visit is also part of the party’s national #Change19 Tour‚ the DA’s precursor to the 2019 national and provincial election campaign. He held a community meeting in Nondweni before embarking on a door-to-door visit in the same ward where ANC presidential hopeful, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, is expected to campaign this week.

All political parties are working hard to win the small municipality‚ with President Jacob Zuma also expected in Nquthu on Sunday.

TMG Digital/TimesLIVE

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