Emotions ran high among traditional leaders when discussions on whether they should stop supporting the ANC were held in Mthatha yesterday.
Traditional leaders from many parts of the Eastern Cape descended on the city to voice their views on the matter at a special general council congress of the Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa (Contralesa).
Contralesa is considering forming a political organisation to contest elections.
The congress said it was disappointed by the ANC’s labelling of Contralesa as arrogant and accused it of undermining traditional leaders.
The Contralesa national executive took a recommendation in August that it dump the ANC and form its own political party.
Some of the traditional leaders at yesterday’s meeting were strongly opposed to the move, but most supported it, saying it was long overdue.
Chief Ayanda Faku said to loud applause: “The ANC has ill-treated us for many years and undermined our integrity. There is no going back.
“Let us form a new party and fight for our rights as traditional leaders in parliament.”
Several warned that running a political party would be too costly and time-consuming for traditional leaders, who also had other responsibilities.
Chief Zwelithobile Mtirara, head of traditional leaders in the King Sabata Dalindyebo region, said his followers were opposed to the idea.
Chief Nobhotwe Nonyama warned: “We must not be ruled by emotions, but must be steady and realistic.
“We always say that there is chaos in politics and politics is nasty.
“Now are we saying let us join the chaos and play the nasty game?
“I think there is more integrity in traditional leadership than politics.”
AmaXhosa King Mpendulo Sigcawu also attended the meeting.
The matter was still being debated late yesterday.
It will also be discussed at the Contralesa national general council at the weekend.