KaMagwaza-Msibi admits to stroke and apologises

KaMagwaza-Msibi admits to stroke and apologises

National Freedom Party leader Zanele kaMagwaza-Msibi admitted on Tuesday that last year she had suffered a major stroke that left her in a coma for a number of days.

Zanele kaMagwaza-Msibi
Gallo Images

In an open letter, released on Tuesday by her spokesman Canaan Mdletshe, she apologised for the way that those close to her had handled the stroke.

After her stroke on November 17, 2014, both NFP party members and her spokesman, Mdletshe, claimed that she had become ill as a result of fatigue.

“Unfortunately those around me did not know how to handle the situation so they informed the public that I was suffering from fatigue which is partly true since it is part of the causes of the stroke,” said KaMagwaza-Msibi in the open letter.

The stroke suffered by KaMagwaza-Msibi, who is also the country’s deputy science and technology minister, was so severe that she had a less than 50 percent chance of survival.

“On 17 November 2014, I suffered a stroke in my Newcastle home. I went into a coma for days and there was a point where the doctors feared the worst. My family was prepared for the worst as the doctors gave me a 30 percent chance of survival.”

The NFP leader apologised for the way in which her illness was handled.

“I would like to apologize to you on behalf of my family and my team for the manner in which the whole issue (my sickness) was handled. I know you have many questions concerning my health that have not been answered. Without shifting the responsibility, I believe not being honest with you from the beginning was a huge mistake.”

At the time of her stroke there were media reports that she had first been admitted to the hospital in Newcastle before being transferred to a specialist facility in Durban.

The Witness newspaper in Pietermaritzburg reported at the time that she had suffered a stroke, but this was denied.

Mdletshe was quoted in the newspaper as saying: “KaMagwaza-Msibi is being treated for exhaustion. It will be recalled that kaMagwaza-Msibi led the NFP’s election campaign during the 2011 local government elections and this year’s general elections and has never rested.”

In her letter, KaMagwaza-Msibi said that she had effectively ignored her own health.

“As politicians, we tend to forget that just like everybody else, we are human and we get drawn into serving our country, forgetting about our own health and I guess that eventually caught up with me.”

She described her year out of the mainstream politics as being the toughest in her life, but the letter makes no indication that she intends stepping down as either the minister or president of her party.

On the contrary, she said: “Yes, I had a close shave with death but God performed miracles so much that I am now able to write this letter to you. My medical team and I are working hard to ensure that I come back and join you in due time for the Local Government Elections.”

However, the letter did not mention any specific time frame as to when she would be returning to the political fray. Since her stroke, the only pictures of her that have been published are those of her meeting traditional leaders on October 2.

KaMagwaza-Msibi was national chairperson of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) under Mangosuthu Buthelezi and mayor of the Zululand District Municipality for 15 years, before she left the IFP in 2011.

She and her supporters set up the NFP three months before the 2011 local government elections in May 2011, garnering some 2.4 percent of the votes cast nationally and 10.4 percent of the votes cast in KwaZulu-Natal.

The split, effectively cut the IFP’s hold on many of the rural municipalities in KwaZulu-Natal. - ANA

(File photo: Gallo Images)

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