Durban — The National Freedom Party’s (NFP) imminent closure was likely to throw many councils in KwaZulu-Natal into disarray.
As the party’s liquidation process gets under way, the spotlight is now on the future of various councillors in the provinces, including that of eThekwini deputy mayor Zandile Myeni, who has served just two months in the position.
Myeni and other party councillors’ future is hanging in the balance following the party’s creditor going ahead with the liquidation application.
Myeni, who is also the party’s provincial secretary, was appointed as deputy mayor in February as a reward for persuading smaller parties to work with the ANC when it was threatened by the DA-led coalition during the recent motions of no confidence against the eThekwini Municipality mayor and speaker.
Myeni refused to be drawn on her future as the city’s number two, saying: “No comment.”
She is not alone in limbo, as the final verdict would also mean the removal of other councillors elsewhere in the province.
After the 2021 local government elections the party managed to get the mayorship in eDumbe Local Municipality in Paulpietersburg in the far north of the province.
It also came close to taking Nongoma and Zululand after its coalition with the ANC was joined by the EFF.
The party’s closure will mean that the councillors would have to vacate their seats, forcing the councils to reconvene and reconstitute afresh. The party’s two MPs and one legislature member in KwaZulu-Natal would also be affected.
Independent Electoral Commission spokesperson Thabani Ngwira said he was not sure how the process would unfold since liquidation did not form part of the reasons for the party’s de-registration in terms of the Electoral Act.
Ngwira said the act stipulated that it must be the party that requested de-registration.
The creditor, Ezulweni Investments, whose loan has ballooned from R13 million to R25 million, has already filed papers in the Johannesburg High Court and was awaiting the date of the hearing, according to its legal team under Sarlie and Associates.
Attorney Shafique Sarlie explained that like any normal liquidation application, the Master of the High Court would appoint a liquidator who would take over the finances of the party and pay the creditors.
Sarlie said under normal circumstances if the company was liquidated after being declared bankrupt and the liquidator had finished winding down, the company and its account ceased to operate. In the case of a political party, which he said would happen for the first time in the country, he was expecting the court to issue an order of forced de-registration to municipality councils where the party was represented, to channel any payments due (to) the individual councillors to the liquidator’s account.
In the process, the court could declare all party officials and councillors who signed an acknowledgement of debt insolvent. This would bar them from holding public office until their indebtedness was cleared by another court of law once they had settled the debt.
This may mean that even if the councillors formed their own party or joined other parties they would not be eligible to contest.
The company’s CEO, Ranash Ramdas, said several councillors and party officials signed the acknowledgement of debt at a meeting in March last year.
In that meeting, councillors were to contribute to the party to pay an instalment of R100 000 for two months and then begin to pay R500 000 a month until the full amount was settled.
The NFP’s demise was likely to benefit the IFP and deal a blow to the ANC as the party co-governs councils with the NFP. After the liquidation eDumbe was likely to fall to the IFP, while it would have a clear majority in Nongoma and Zululand.
ANC provincial spokesperson Mafika Mndebele said as much as they wished the NFP to resolve its financial problems, the ANC would not get involved in its internal affairs.
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