Durban - Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema will come face to face on Monday with his one-time sworn enemy, IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi, in a meeting in which the two leaders are expected to bury their personal differences.
Insiders hinted that some form of a political co-operation agreement would be discussed by the two leaders. But political analyst Mcebisi Ndletyana warned that there could be no beneficial co-operation by the two parties and said any association with the IFP could spell loss of support for the EFF.
“I don’t believe these two parties could ever campaign from the same platform. I cannot imagine them co-operating on any issue. In fact it would be a horrible decision for the EFF to strike any deal with the IFP. The IFP is a right-wing Zulu nationalist party while the EFF can be described as a progressive yet populist party.”
Ndletyana said the EFF – whose campaign started on a high note – did not need the IFP, despite not being able to pull in crowds in KZN.
The meeting, to be held in Durban, would be the first time the two leaders have met. They have had sour relations characterised mainly by much-publicised public attacks.
During his time as ANC Youth League president, Malema referred to Buthelezi as a factory fault of the league. Malema has also accused Buthelezi – who turns 86 later this year – of refusing to let go of power, saying he “wants to die an IFP leader”.
As recently as September, Buthelezi – who has previously referred to Malema as an uncouth brat – warned against the EFF and Malema attaining any power after this year’s elections.
Writing in his online newsletter he said: “When I hear Mr Malema’s message of racial polarisation, I think ‘God help us’ if he gains any power in 2014 … Given a platform, the EFF will reverse the gains we have made in nation building and social cohesion.”
Asked if Buthelezi or members of his delegation would seek an apology from Malema, IFP spokesman Joshua Mazibuko said he did not want to pre-empt the meeting.
“But I certainly hope that this meeting would be the beginning of improvement in relations between the IFP and the EFF in light of the comments that have been made previously (by Malema).”
EFF convener in KwaZulu-Natal, Vusi Khoza, confirmed that the EFF had requested the meeting with Buthelezi.
“Some of the utterances might have been made by the commander-in-chief when he was still in another party and that might have been the mandate given to him by his then party. But now he leads the EFF and it is important that we recognise Buthelezi as an elder statesman.”
Khoza would not say what would be discussed. But some EFF leaders in the province said areas of co-operation with the IFP would be discussed. One said a strong opposition was needed to try and keep the ANC below 60 percent in the next election and even below 50 percent in some provinces.
But these talks have angered some EFF members who believe that “a revolutionary organisation such as the EFF should not be seen co-operating with what they referred to as the feudalist IFP”.
Mazibuko said he was not at liberty to say what would be on the agenda, but hinted that the IFP might consider co-operating with the EFF. He said the IFP had an open-door policy “to anyone who shares our broader vision of a prosperous and safe South Africa”.