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Buthelezi, Gilder present united front

29th May 2003

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Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi and his new director general Barry Gilder put forward a united, and amiable, front yesterday, following speculation of differences between the two.

"I have called for this press conference to plead with the press to allow for the controversy (surrounding Gilder's appointment) to subside," the minister told reporters and members of Parliament's home affairs committee.

"Mr Gilder and I have met and found a variety of common grounds in respect of the key strategic projects of my department," he said.

Gilder, a former secret service official, finally signed his contract on Tuesday, two weeks after Cabinet approved the appointment, and after months of wrangling.

The home affairs minister, who is also president of the Inkatha Freedom Party, had wanted his close aide Ivan Lambinnon to be appointed to the post, although Cabinet colleagues had preferred Gilder.

Like his predecessor Billy Masetlha, Gilder is a member of the African National Congress.

The relationship between Masetlha and Buthelezi was tense, with the former DG declining to sign a contract to ratify his extended tenure, and the minister listing 64 examples of "wrongdoing" by Masetlha.

Masetlha left the department in June last year to join the Presidency.

Buthelezi said "a lot of nonsense has been bandied about" that he had objected to Gilder's appointment as DG because of his ANC credentials, or because he had come from the secret service, like Masetlha.

"I have never voiced to anyone that working in intelligence, an organ of state, tarnishes anyone in my esteem.

"The problems I had with Mr Gilder's predecessor had nothing to do with his coming from the department of secret service, but had to do with his personality.

"I therefore hope that the ghosts of these allegations that I had objections to working with the so-called 'spooks', as some of the media people have said, will today be laid to rest forever. R.I.P.," he said.

Gilder said he fully respected the authority and role of the Minister, and was looking forward to tackling the challenges of the job.

"I plead to the media to allow the past to rest in the past".

In reply to a question on a court ultimatum for the department to issue ID documents to two Rwandan refugees or face arrest, he said: "I was quite looking forward to going to jail with the Minister, as it would have allowed us the opportunity to really get to know each other".

Gilder was appointed on a three-year contract. – Sapa.
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