Future of IFP-led coalition in KZN on shaky ground

Published Jul 2, 2024


Durban — The future of the IFP-led coalition governing KwaZulu-Natal is bleak amid the widening political rift between the IFP and the NFP over ultimate control of the Zululand District Municipality.

The NFP threw down the gauntlet, threatening to walk out of the Government of Provincial Unity (GPU) if the IFP did not heed its demands of giving away control of the Zululand District Municipality.

The NFP – a key member of the GPU – had been eyeing control of the Zululand District Municipality in return for backing the IFP’s Thami Ntuli for the plum premier position.

However, the IFP reneged on the power deal and pitched its candidate Michael Khumalo for the mayoral position in the Zululand District Municipality.

This summarily dashed the hopes of NFP president Ivan Barnes of becoming the next mayor of the Zululand District Municipality, as his name was punted as mayor-in-waiting.

Angered by this, the NFP rashly called a meeting of the national executive committee, the party’s highest structure, on Sunday to discuss the way forward amid the impasse between itself and the IFP.

An internal source told the Daily News that the NFP will pull out of the provincial coalition if the IFP does not heed its demands for posts in the Zululand District Municipality.

“The IFP back-stabbed us. We’ve now agreed to walk out of the provincial coalition if the IFP does not accede to our demands. It is a give and take, but the IFP appears to be taking everything,” said an NFP senior source.

“What the IFP did was wrong and uncalled-for.

“We agreed with them based on principle, but they reneged on our deal.”

The source, who is not authorised to talk to the media, said the NFP has requested a meeting with the IFP in a bid to ease the simmering tensions.

The NFP’s Barnes said he was not in a position to comment on the matter until he had received formal correspondence from the IFP.

“The IFP’s official response to us will determine whether we remain or pull out of the government of provincial unity,” Barnes said.

NFP president Ivan Barnes. | Supplied

IFP spokesperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa said: “The IFP is engaging the NFP, and we believe we will find an amicable solution.”

While the two political rivals were at loggerheads, the future of the IFP-ANC-DA and the NFP coalition governing KZN – a province with a handsome R150 billion budget – could now hang in the balance.

The Daily News understands that relations between the IFP and the NFP have soured after the decision by the IFP to snub the NFP for the Zululand District Municipality mayor position.

The mayoral position became vacant after the resignation of the IFP’s Rev Thulasizwe Buthelezi – who is also prime minister of the Zulu monarch, and the new co-operative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta) MEC in KZN.

It has been reported that the NFP, an IFP splinter party, wants two IFP-governed district municipalities: Zululand and uThukela, in exchange for its support of the IFP’s Ntuli.

This is as the NFP holds a kingmaker single seat in the KZN Legislature after the May 29 elections failed to produce an outright winner in the coastal province.

The power pact consists of the IFP, ANC, DA and NFP with 41 seats in the 80-member legislature.

The Jacob Zuma-led uMkhonto weSizwe Party (MKP) has 37 seats, and the EFF has two.

After the elections, IFP president Velenkosini Hlabisa said power deals at national-level would not include the local sphere of government.

If Barnes was elected mayor of the Zululand District Municipality, it would be the second time the NFP was in charge of the northern municipality.

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

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