IEC tells NFP leaders that electoral participation ban is still in force as leadership dispute has not been settled

File picture: Chris Collingridge

File picture: Chris Collingridge

Published May 27, 2023


Durban - The Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) has rebutted another attempt by a faction of the National Freedom Party (NFP) to have its electoral participation ban lifted and frozen funds amounting to millions of rand released.

This was after lawyers for Chris Sibisi and Teddy Thwala wrote to the electoral body on the basis that their expulsion had been set aside by the Pietermaritzburg High Court.

As such, it was now clear who the rightful leaders of the party founded in 2011 by the late Zanele KaMagwaza Msibi were.

The IEC said the ruling did not settle the raging leadership dispute and turned down the request.

Sibisi is the party’s member of Parliament in Cape Town while Thwala works as a researcher in the KwaZulu-Natal legislature in Pietermaritzburg.

At the party level, Thwala, according to the court papers, was the NFP’s secretary-general while Sibisi was a senior party member.

The two were fired last year at the height of the factional fights currently ravaging the party’s structures at all levels.

Their expulsion was recently set aside but the other faction of the party led by Canaan Mdletshe is appealing the ruling.

It was that ruling that caused Sibisi to approach the IEC, which then turned him down.

The IEC still maintains that the leadership squabble over the party has not yet been resolved.

This is contained in a letter dated May 25, 2023, which was sent by the IEC to lawyers representing Sibisi.

The IEC responded to Sibisi’s request: “In light of the above, and in view of the various conflicting communications presented to the Electoral Commission recently, as well as the contents of the judgment being noted, it is clear that the judgment did not settle the leadership dispute of the NFP, but simply reinstated Messrs Sibisi’s and Thwala’s membership within the NFP.

“In addition, there also appears to be uncertainty as to who constitutes the legitimate Inec (Interim National Executive Committee).

“In light of the above, the commission is not in a position to determine who constitutes the legitimate leadership and/or interim leadership of the NFP until such time as it is provided with a court order addressing same in clear terms, alternatively when the leadership vacuum and/or dispute is resolved through the holding of a properly constituted and legitimate National Elective Conference.”

The IEC added: “The commission therefore remains constrained to retain its position as indicated in its letters dated 30 August 2022 and 18 October 2022, which are attached hereto for ease of reference. We trust that you find the above to be in order.”

Thwala confirmed that they wrote to the IEC and said they wanted the IEC to lift their suspension from all electoral activities.

“We were requesting and seeking for the upliftment and/or reviewal of IEC decision of suspending the NFP,” Thwala told IOL.

“As to what prompted the IEC to respond in such a manner, in the said letter, it has become evident that the IEC has received different contradicting correspondences or submissions from NFP leaders.

“As a result, the IEC again has decided to uphold its decision of suspending the party, up until the Interim National Executive Committee fulfils its September 2018 MOA and court mandate of taking the party into a legitimate, credible, free and fair elective national conference.

“Hence the party will remain suspended up until such Inec mandate is accomplished and well executed.

“Hence as Inec we are busy with preparations for the NFP Elective Conferences.”

He added that more questions would be answered during a press conference billed for Tuesday next week in Durban and their lawyers were still studying the response from the IEC.

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