WATCH: KZN Premier Sihle Zikalala chased out of heated council meeting to elect uMkhanyakude district mayor
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Durban - KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala had to be shielded by his bodyguards and armed police officers when angry councillors prevented him from speaking at a council meeting to elect the new mayor of uMkhanyakude district municipality.
The shocking incident, where a visible shaken Zikalala was seen climbing down from speaking at the meeting, happened on Monday in northern KwaZulu-Natal.
Videos of Zikalala being verbally abused and insulted by the angry councillors was trending on social media platforms by Monday afternoon. It is unclear what triggered the angry attack on Zikalala.
The uMkhanyakude district municipality is being heavily contested by the IFP and the ANC.
By noon on Monday, the ANC was able to get its former mayor, Solomon Mkhombo, elected as speaker of the district municipality, which includes the likes of Jozini, Mtubatuba, Hlabisa Big 5 and Mhlabuyalingana local municipalities and has its headquarters in Mkuze.
During the heated verbal showdown, one councillor is seen pointing fingers at Zikalala, demanding that he must leave the arena where the meeting was taking place.
“Akaphume lona, phuma! This one must leave, leave!” the councillor is heard and seen yelling at Zikalala, banging the table in front of the premier.
Another councillor, dressed in a black suit, is heard shouting at Zikalala: “We don’t trust you, leave now!”.
Officers in uniform are seen forming a human shield around Zikalala while he slowly withdraws from the area, as demanded by the angry crowd of councillors.
The unnamed programme director eventually yields to the demand that Zikalala must leave and can be heard telling the meeting that he will no longer speak.
“Okay, councillors, please get back to your seats, we will skip this item, the premier will no longer speak, okay,” the programme director says.
Meanwhile, the KZN Government has responded to the IOL report.
Lennox Mabaso, the head of KZN Provincial Government said it was not factual to say Zikalala was chased away at the inaugural sitting of uMkhanyakude District Council meeting.
“Yes, there was a point when the Premier was invited and ascended to the podium. A group of few councillors who had been rowdy since the beginning of the meeting continued to be disruptive and noisy.
“The Premier who attended as the Champion of the district deployed by Cabinet quietly left the podium and walked to his seat.
“This he did to avert the deliberate intention of getting his name being used to collapse the Council meeting. “If the Premier wanted to address the meeting he would have done so. The Premier understood the bigger picture which was to get the people of uMkhanyakude, a leadership to transform their lives.
“It is unfortunate that this subjective interpretation is being given out of context and the whole story of a successful meeting stewarded under the watchful guidance of the Premier is being missed and deliberately distorted.
“We reject the conclusion that the Premier was chased” he said.