NFP factions in unity talks, but Barnes Thwala at odds

NFP president Ivan Barnes (second from the bodyguard) looked on as the party’s election poster was being put on the pole in Umlazi on Sunday. Photo: Supplied

NFP president Ivan Barnes (second from the bodyguard) looked on as the party’s election poster was being put on the pole in Umlazi on Sunday. Photo: Supplied

Published Apr 2, 2024


Durban — The National Freedom Party (NFP) leadership under president Ivan Barnes, who was recognised by the Independent Electoral Commission of South Africa, has extended an olive branch to disgruntled leaders and members to return to the party and work with him.

Barnes led party volunteers in a campaign in and around Durban at the weekend. On Sunday he did a walkabout in uMlazi, south of the City, putting up election posters.

Speaking to the Daily News on Monday, Barnes said he held no grudges against party leaders who had taken his election to court and invited them to come back to talk peace.

He was referring to the estranged secretary-general of the party, Teddy Thwala, who on March 8 – the last day for the submission of parliamentary and legislature lists – dragged Barnes to the Pietermaritzburg High Court “to stop him” from submitting the party’s lists.

Thwala who was elected alongside Barnes at a conference in December last year in Durban, lost the case after the court ruled the matter not urgent. The IEC then recognised Barnes’ leadership.

“Courts are an ideal platform to settle political disputes, so I call on my brothers and sisters to come and talk to us as the recognised leadership. We want to rebuild the party and do well in the coming elections. It’s not about us as the leadership but for the sake of people who are pinning their hopes on us to deliver services,” said Barnes.

Thwala had not been attending the national executive committee meetings despite being invited, he said. He had referred the matter to the party’s legal team to advise on what step should be taken. Barnes said when the party met on Tuesday (today), the legal team will provide its opinion on the matter.

In response, Thwala said he was not entertaining anything for now from Barnes because he was taking the IEC’s decision to recognise him as the president, for review. He said by the end of the week, his legal team would have filed papers to set aside the recognition and the list that was submitted by Barnes.

He said Barnes had not approached him for peace talks. Thwala added that he could not attend the NEC meetings since he, as the secretary-general, had the right to call meetings.

On a faction led by former secretary-general Canaan Mdletshe, Barnes said they had held three meetings, and would again meet soon to finalise outstanding issues.

Speaking on behalf of his faction, Mdletshe confirmed the continued engagement with Barnes’s leadership to resolve differences and work together.

He said that they had agreed on all matters except the issue of who should be the face of the election. The Mdletshe faction wants to use the face of the late NFP leader and founder Zanele kaMagwaza-Msibi in the election campaign, which Barnes’s faction has rejected.

“For us, it is going to assist the party to use the face of kaMagwaza-Msibi in the campaign material and Barnes himself will take credit if the party does well in the elections. People loved kaMagwaza-Msibi, when they see her on the posters they would be happy and vote for the party,” said Mdletshe.

The strategy appeared to have helped the party in the 2021 local government elections when the NFP used her as the face under the theme: “Do it for kaMagwaza-Msibi.”

The party’s performance had surprised many who had written it off after failing to participate in the 2016 general elections.

WhatsApp your views on this story to 071 485 7995.

Daily News