IFP faces exodus if it picks DA for power deal

IFP President Velenkosini Hlabisa will announce the party’s coalition partner later this week. Photographer: Khaya Ngwenya/ Independent Newspapers

IFP President Velenkosini Hlabisa will announce the party’s coalition partner later this week. Photographer: Khaya Ngwenya/ Independent Newspapers

Published Jun 11, 2024


Durban — Speculation is growing that the pending official decision by the IFP to snub the uMkhonto weSizwe Party (MK) in favour of the ANC-DA coalition in the hung KwaZulu-Natal could backfire.

This comes as some IFP supporters are reportedly against the decision to back the DA-ANC alliance, which aims to topple the MKP-led coalition that would possibly include the EFF.

While the IFP is expected to make its official decision on its coalition partner later this week, tensions are apparently simmering internally as the party is torn between the MK-led coalition and the ANC-led grouping.

It is reported that IFP provincial leader Thami Ntuli preferred a coalition with the MKP in return for a plum MEC position – possibly finance or agriculture to sweeten the power deal.

Another IFP grouping led by party leader Velenkosini Hlabisa is believed to be in favour of an ANC-DA-led coalition, which would likely see Hlabisa getting a ceremonial ministerial position nationally under the Multi-Party Charter, led by the de facto DA.

As wheeling and dealing continues behind the scenes, an IFP leader in KZN said: “This issue is tearing the organisation apart. Some want the party to go into coalition with the DA, while others are leaning towards a coalition with the MK Party.”

The leader, who spoke strictly on condition of anonymity, added that party leaders are haplessly dousing the flames of discontent apparently brewing internally.

To ease the simmering tensions, the IFP leader has assembled a team of senior leaders to deal with the contentious coalitions matter.

“Some people have threatened to leave the party if it continues with the DA coalition,” said the leader.

With 37 seats from the 80-member provincial legislature, the MKP, led by former president Jacob Zuma, is a heartbeat away from governing the province but needs a partner, who would give it four seats. In spite of its majority, there are plans to block the MKP from governing KZN.

The IFP follows the MKP with 15 seats, the ANC with 14, the DA 11, the EFF two and the NFP one. The combined seats of the ANC-DA and the IFP are 40, one short of governing KZN.

On the other hand, the mooted MK-EFF coalition stands at 39 seats. Even if the NFP hands its single seat to the grouping, it will still not have a clear majority. The NFP, with its single seat, has emerged as a kingmaker as the protracted political battle for the control of KZN drags on.

In an interview with the Daily News, NFP president Ivan Barnes said: “We are still weighing our options. We will make our official stance before the end of the week.”

Barnes said the NFP would not back any coalition that will work against the plight of the millions of KZN residents, who still languish in poverty.

“We are clear that whoever wants our seat will have to concede to our demands that aim to better the lives of the millions of KZN residents. If they reject that, then we take our seat to the opposition benches,” said Barnes.

Political analyst Thabani Khumalo said the MK-IFP coalition was “perfect for KZN”.

“While the two parties are representing the same constituency, such a coalition government will allow the MK to lead the government as the biggest voted party. It will also provide the IFP with an opportunity to serve and defend its turf,” Khumalo wrote on his Facebook page.

“With the IFP’s huge experience of developing rural KZN and Zuma’s passion for rural development since he is a rural citizen, the majority of the province’s population will benefit … from this coalition government.”

Khumalo said a coalition between the MK and the IFP “will promote unity and peace and generate mutual benefits for the two parties”.

Analyst Thobani Zikalala said many political party supporters are wary of backing any coalition deal that has the DA because of its “big brother mentality”.

“It is (unreasonable) for any party supporters that are predominantly black to support any deal with the DA because of its stance against policies such as the BEE,” said Zikalala.

IFP secretary-general Siphosethu Ngcobo reiterated that the IFP would make its position an official position before the end of the week.

The party is still weighing options, he said while refuting reports of internal wrangling over the party’s stance on a coalition partner.

Meanwhile, the Al jama-ah warned the ANC that being part of a Government of National Unity (GNU) with the DA is a monumental blunder. Party leader Ganief Hendricks said any coalition pact with the DA would inadvertently return the country to “white rule”.

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