Squabbles could collapse KZN GPU

Former ANC MP Cyril Xaba was expected to be elected as eThekwini’s new mayor but the election was cancelled at the last minute. | Independent Newspapers Archives

Former ANC MP Cyril Xaba was expected to be elected as eThekwini’s new mayor but the election was cancelled at the last minute. | Independent Newspapers Archives

Published Jun 26, 2024


Durban — Barely a week after his swearing-in, the future of KwaZulu-Natal Premier Thami Ntuli hangs by a thread as the DA is threatening to dump the Government of National Unity (GNU), which, in turn, would threaten the Government of Provincial Unity.

The DA’s threat comes as the talks between the party and the ANC over the allocation of Cabinet posts were fraught with drama and have summarily deadlocked.

The DA, the second-biggest party in the 10-party GNU, wants 12 Cabinet positions nationally and the plum deputy president position.

However, the ANC – a de facto leader of the GNU – has reportedly rejected the DA’s demands.

In retaliation, the DA threw down the gauntlet, warning the ANC that it would leave the IFP-ANC-DA and the NFP coalition governing KZN province and the soon-tobe-announced Gauteng government.

The power bloc has already formulated a government in KZN, which saw four MECs drawn from the IFP, three from the ANC, two representing the DA and one from the NFP.

However, this could come crashing down if the DA’s demands are not heeded at the national level.

If this happens, the provincial government would collapse, and summarily cut short the tenure of Ntuli, who was sworn in last week on Wednesday.

The DA’s provincial chairperson in KZN, Dean Mcpherson, said: “The DA in KwaZulu-Natal is a structure of the party and therefore we engage with our national leaders on matters of government in the province, understanding that what does or doesn’t happen in higher formations will affect us.”

He added: “The DA in the province is also aware that the existence of the Government of Provincial Unity comes from the Government of National Unity document, so it stands to reason that if the DA withdrew from the GNU that could possibly end our participation in the GPU.

“Therefore we hope that the national leaders of the DA and the ANC will be able to find each other to not only secure the government nationally but also provincially.”

The IFP’s Mkhuleko Hlengwa was also unshaken by the stalemate at the national level over the allocation of Cabinet posts.

“The government in KwaZulu-Natal has hit the ground running. I don’t think what is happening at the national level will derail them.”

Ivan Barnes, the president of the NFP, said he hoped that the parties would broker a deal at national level.

“We hope that nothing will cripple the KZN provincial government. And hope that the national leaders will find each other soon so that we can have a government to service our people,” said Barnes.

In a leaked letter written by Helen Zille, the chairperson of the Federal Council, she said: “The cabinet positions the DA holds should rightly include the post of deputy president, as is standard practice in similar governments around the world.

“We can only agree to give up that post if it is replaced with both a Minister in the Presidency, who is also designated as the Leader of Government Business and participates fully in the policy development and monitoring responsibilities of the Presidency, and a Deputy Minister of Finance, who participates fully in the development of the Budget.”

She then warned: “Finally, please be advised that DA participation in government in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal depends on our participation in government at the national level.”

The implications of the deadlocked talks in the GNU were also felt in eThekwini when the ANC was forced to cancel the election of the new mayor at the last minute after “realising that numbers were not on their side”.

It was believed that the ANC was hoping what would be referred to as the Government of Local Unity would apply where the DA, the IFP and the NFP were going to back their candidate. The EFF too had said it was going to abstain.

Announcing the postponement, council speaker Thabani Nyawose cited the absence of Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) officials as the reason why the item of electing a mayor would no longer be tabled.

The Daily News understands that the announcement came after the IFP and the DA reminded the ANC that they still had their opposition status so they would not guarantee voting for their candidate.

The DA’s Thabani Mthethwa said his party did not think that any of the candidates listed by the ANC were ideal for the job, saying that the DA was mulling fielding its own candidate.

Reacting to the announcement, Mthethwa expressed his party’s disappointment that the election was postponed as such a position can’t be left vacant for so long, adding that it causes instability in the municipality.

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