File photo: NFP president Zanele kaMagwaza-Msibi

Durban - Free tertiary education, the introduction of a special social grant for widows, increasing the child grant to R500, reducing the pension age for women to 55, and subsidising the taxi industry.

These are some of the ambitious promises the NFP is making to members and potential voters as it tries to garner votes for the May 7 general elections.

It will be the first time that the NFP contests general elections and the poll in May would therefore prove a true test of strength for the three-year-old party.

On Sunday, NFP president Zanele kaMagwaza-Msibi returned to Curries Fountain stadium – where in 2011 she launched the NFP after breaking away from the IFP – to launch the “pro-poor” manifesto.

The document outlines the party’s position on a number of issues, including the role of amakhosi, education, health, safety and security.

The party wants amakhosi to have voting rights at municipalities, while it also says students funded by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme should only be liable to pay a portion of the funding advanced.

It also promises to bring back discipline to schools and to increase the minimum pass requirement to 50 percent.

Magwaza-Msibi will be hoping that this year the NFP will surprise many by continuing to eat away at the support base of her rivals, especially the IFP.

With the ANC almost guaranteed a win, the real battle in KwaZulu-Natal would be between the NFP and the IFP, as both parties would be vying for the position of being the official opposition.

KaMagwaza-Msibi has already pronounced a desire to snatch away this title from the IFP, which is currently the second largest party in the provincial legislature.

At the last local government elections in 2013, the NFP received 11.06 percent of the vote in KZN, while the IFP fared better with 17.33 percent.

But kaMagwaza-Msibi claimed the membership of the NFP had grown considerably since its inception, with structures of the party having now been formed throughout the country, she said.

“When I said we wanted 30 000 people to be here for this manifesto launch, many thought I was joking, but here we have surpassed that number,” she told supporters.

KaMagwaza-Msibi also tore into the ANC, saying as a party in government it had failed to fulfil the promise of 1994.

“We have strayed so far from our purpose that a foreign culture is foisted on us as the new way to do things.

Integrity has vanished from our vocabulary, service to the community is an unknown phenomenon, batho pele principles are merely decorative posters, humility is a foreign word and not understood, and honesty is a nuisance.”

She also said the money used to upgrade President Jacob Zuma’s home could have been put to better use.

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