Sihle Zikalala

Bongani Hans

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ANC has ruled out abandoning its coalition with the National Freedom Party in the uMtshezi municipality (Estcourt) despite its victory in this week’s by-election, which gave it the power to govern the municipality alone.

Umtshezi was one of 18 hung municipalities where the ANC and NFP signed a coalition to rule against the IFP.

However, on Wednesday the party turned the tables after it won the hotly contested by-elections in the IFP’s Ward 7, Weenen, with 1 002 votes. This helped it to secure enough seats in the council to rule without the coalition. The IFP received 722 votes, while the NFP got 580 votes.

ANC provincial secretary Sihle Zikalala said that despite the latest developments, the party had no plans to leave the coalition arrangement.

“This arrangement will continue to the end of the term,” said Zikalala.

The parties signed the coalition agreement in 18 municipalities in KwaZulu-Natal where neither of them won an outright majority.

Independent political analyst Protas Madlala also warned that it would be “suicidal” for the ANC to use this victory to abandon the coalition agreement in uMtshezi.

“This would leave the NFP aggrieved, which would affect the coalition in other municipalities. This would come back to haunt the ANC,” he said.

After the IEC announced the by-election results, NFP councillors – who have previously complained about being sidelined by the ANC – raised fears that this might be the end of the coalition.

The by-elections came after Shaka Chonco, IFP councillor in Ward 7, resigned from his position in June. He later campaigned for the ANC to win the ward.

NFP councillor Zeph Mdakane said his party was concerned about the future of the ANC/NFP coalition agreement. “We will wait and see how the ANC treats the coalition agreement now that it has enough representatives in the council,” said Mdakane.

Umtshezi municipality mayor Bongani Dlamini, who is also ANC secretary in uMtshezi region, said the ANC’s victory was an indication that the people had seen the party’s capabilities.

“This municipality has always been under the IFP and, as a result, there is no service delivery. With the ANC in charge, all this would change,” said Dlamini.

Cedric Xulu, member of the NFP’s national working committee, said the parties had signed a five-year coalition arrangement.