Cracks in the armour of KZN GPU government

Michael Khumalo was elected Zululand District Municipality mayor, on Thursday. He replaced Reverend Thulasizwe Buthelezi who is now Cogta MEC. | Supplied

Michael Khumalo was elected Zululand District Municipality mayor, on Thursday. He replaced Reverend Thulasizwe Buthelezi who is now Cogta MEC. | Supplied

Published Jun 28, 2024


Durban — The first signs of cracks in the armour of the Government of Provincial Unity (GPU) bloc in KwaZulu-Natal have started to appear and could collapse the power deal.

This comes after the IFP elected its mayor of the Zululand District Municipality, Michael Khumalo, instead of giving way to NFP leader Ivan Barnes to lead the northern municipality in line with the power deal of the GPU.

Before Khumalo’s election, Barnes was punted as next in line to be the mayor of the Zululand District Municipality after he was deployed as a councillor in the same municipality.

The Daily News understands that part of the behind-the-scenes deal-making of the Government of National Unity (GNU) was for the NFP, a kingmaker with its single seat in KZN, to support the IFP’s Thami Ntuli to be the premier of the province of KZN in return for the control of Zululand District Municipality.

However, it appears the IFP did not keep its end of the deal, and now could reignite the animosity between itself and its old foe-turned-ally, the NFP.

Khumalo replaces Reverend Thulasizwe Buthelezi, who is now the MEC for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) and also the Prime Minister of the Zulu Monarch.

In a statement, Khumalo said: “I express my deepest gratitude to the council for entrusting me with this responsibility. I pledge to uphold the dignity of all parties and foster harmony within the district. I will ensure that we prioritise providing water to the people of Zululand as this is our core mandate.”

He was elected unanimously at a council meeting on Thursday, and he is the Exco member in the council and former speaker of AbaQulusi Local Municipality.

Before Khumalo’s elections as mayor, the NFP issued a scathing letter to IFP secretary-general Siphosethu Ngcobo, accusing the IFP of meddling in its affairs and playing “cheap and rough politics”.

“The IFP is tempering with the NFP issues and processes, and we feel that affects the GPU (Government of Provincial Unity) as it stands if it is not resolved,” read the letter.

The letter dated June 26 added: “We feel that the IFP is hostile and playing cheap politics and rough politics at the expense of the organisation.”

According to the letter, the NFP said it agreed “on principle” with the IFP not to meddle in each other’s political affairs.

While the future of the GPU hangs in the balance, it remains to be seen whether the NFP will ditch the grouping. If it does, this would collapse the provincial government barely a week after its formation.

The May 29 elections did not lead to an outright winner nationally, or in Gauteng and KZN.

With the help of the NFP, the IFP-ANC and the DA coalition was able to form a government with a collective 41 seats in the 80-member legislature.

The Jacob Zuma-led uMkhonto weSizwe Party (MKP) was shut outside the provincial government despite having the most votes, which resulted in 37 seats in the provincial legislature.

The other party not part of the power deal is Julius Malema’s EFF, which has two seats.

If the NFP were able to gain control of Zululand District Municipality, it would have been for the second time at the helm of the northern municipality.

The first stint was when the NFP won the municipality from the IFP in 2011, and the late founder, Zanele KaMagwaza-Msibi, took over as mayor. However, the NFP lost the municipality in 2016 after it failed to take part in the 2016 local government elections.

Meanwhile, there was mounting anxiety in SA ahead of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Cabinet announcement because of a public spat between the Government of National Unity (GNU) parties that include its leader organisations the ANC and the DA.

Letters circulated on Thursday confirm that deal of jostling for Cabinet posts among the two parties has kept the party on autopilot without a government while it remains to be seen if Ramaphosa will give in to the DA’s demands. - Additional reporting by Mashudu Sadike

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