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Shembe Church Faction Rejects Premier Zikalala’s Mediation Attempts

DURBAN – The eBuhleni faction of the Nazareth Baptist Church – also known as the Shembe church – on Thursday accused KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala of favouring their arch-rivals, the Thembezinhle faction.

This after the premier’s recent announcement that his government would intervene in the nine-year-old succession battle between the factions.

A collective calling itself the “concerned group” addressed the media in Durban and accused Zikalala of overreaching and participating in religious factional battles for his own personal gain.

The church is one of the biggest religious organisations in the country with an estimated five million members. Last month, the Supreme Court of Appeal ruled that the late Inkosi Vela Shembe of the Thembezinhle faction was the rightful leader of the church.

Last week, Zikalala told reporters that he had assembled a government team to mediate between the two factions. But, Nduduzo Memela of the eBuhleni faction said they rejected Zikalala’s intervention because it was not noble.

“It’s a project and they’re in it for political reasons and their own personal ambitions,” Memela said.

During the press briefing on Thursday, allegations were also levelled against a former statesman but after threats apparently made by Nkosentsha Shezi of the Radical Economic Transformation Champions, the group requested **Eyewitness News **not to use some of the statements relating to the statesman that were made on the record.

EWN is in possession of the recordings made during the briefing.