The 20 IFP national council members who recently signed a petition calling for a special sitting of the council will not face any disciplinary hearing, even though their actions, which were viewed as mutiny, caused “anxiety” within the rank and file of the party.
That is according to the party leadership, who called members to a meeting on Monday to hear them out and put matters into perspective.
Among the signatories were Xolani Ngwezi, the mayor of the City of Umhlathuze (Richards Bay-Empangeni), Prince Ndabuko Zulu, the mayor of Amajuba District Municipality anchored in Newcastle, and Mncedisi Maphisa, the former mayor of Abaqulusi Local Municipality (Vryheid).
UPDATE: IFP President, Velenkosini Hlabisa, says the failed petition by the 20 NEC members was flawed because they can only ask the Secretary-General, Siphosethu Ngcobo, only if he has been asked to convene it as party President and he refused. @IOL pic.twitter.com/B0CpizlZAu— Sihle Mavuso (@ZANewsFlash) August 8, 2023
They were all present at the press conference in Durban.
Also present at the press conference was Thami Ntuli, the chairperson of the IFP in KwaZulu-Natal, who is also the mayor of King Cetshwayo District Municipality, anchored in Richards Bay.
Ntuli was not part of the group of 20 national council members who signed the petition. However, it was alleged that the members were his ground forces doing “his bidding.”
Addressing the media on Tuesday, the party’s president, Velenkosini Hlabisa said “there is no crisis” in the party, which is the official opposition in KZN.
“No further action will be taken against them, as no law was broken except that they bypassed the president and went to the secretary-general to call for the petition.
UPDATE: IFP President Velenkosini Hlabisa says two of the 20 signatories withdrew their signatures, and the petition fell. Furthermore, the remaining 18 apologized for the confusion their petition caused. @IOL pic.twitter.com/wljqL8vjli— Sihle Mavuso (@ZANewsFlash) August 8, 2023
“We met and that was explained to them, and they even offered an apology for that petition, and we moved on,” he said.
He explained that before the meeting on Monday, two of the 20 members withdrew their signatures, rendering the petition unable to muster the constitutional requirement to even be heard.
“We had a fruitful and constructive engagement with the colleagues, who went as far as offering an apology to the party for the confusion and public anxiety the petition has caused. While the IFP constitution provides for petitions, it must be understood that this is an exceptional measure,” Hlabisa said.
Furthermore, Hlabisa denied that the petition was meant to oust him from power to derail any hopes for him to become the Premier of KwaZulu-Natal should they win next year’s election.
Hlabisa also denied that the members were forced to apologise for their petition, saying it was a genuine apology that came out after discussions.
“They were not arm twisted to offer an apology, we gave an explanation as to when do you apply the clause of a petition. You only do a petition to ask for a special national council meeting if the president has been approached with a request for a meeting and the president refused to call the meeting.
“So now, if you have not done that, you can not go to the clause of doing a petition because a petition is only a measure members have in case the president refuses to call the meeting of the national council,” Hlabisa said.
Hlabisa refused to entertain the reported security threat to his life, saying the SAPS did what was required of it after detecting the threat, which led to his security detail being beefed up.
The threat was allegedly coming from within the IFP, which is jostling for power as the party positions itself to oust the ANC at the provincial level.