NFP battles could wreck KZN GPU

DA Gauteng leader Solly Msimanga said the squabbling in the Gauteng provincial cabinet was an isolated case which he believed would not impact DA/ANC relations in KZN. Picture: Itumeleng English/ Independent Newspapers

DA Gauteng leader Solly Msimanga said the squabbling in the Gauteng provincial cabinet was an isolated case which he believed would not impact DA/ANC relations in KZN. Picture: Itumeleng English/ Independent Newspapers

Published Jul 8, 2024


Durban — There are looming fears that instability in the National Freedom Party might destabilise political relations in KwaZulu-Natal.

So far a potentially explosive situation has been averted in the province, even though the uMkhonto weSizwe Party, which recorded a landslide victory in KZN, and the EFF are not part of the provincial cabinet.

But a senior former NFP leader, who resigned from the party’s structures recently, has warned that its internal squabbles might have a ripple effect on the government of provincial unity.

Asking to remain anonymous for safety reasons, he described the party as being on its deathbed, saying that its leaders were responsible for “totally” collapsing it.

“Its differences are too deep and very ugly.

“Five years is too long for the NFP to continue surviving, and I don’t see it getting support in 2026,” he said.

He referred to litigious senior members of the party who would challenge each other in court, even for minor differences which could be resolved through dialogue.

According to the former NFP leader, even a judge at the Pietermaritzburg High Court had expressed his dismay at the slew of cases that had come before him, and had previously said that he was “tired” of dealing with NFP legal disputes.

He said currently there were seven court cases that he could remember, and which party leaders had lodged against one another.

“There are people who are owed money by the NFP who have also taken the matter to court.

“The NFP has debts which it would never settle and the NFP is insolvent,” he said.

Among the debts was a loan of R25 million which the party took from Ezulweni Investments in 2014 and which has still not been settled.

The company has appealed to the Gauteng High Court, Johannesburg, to place the NFP under provisional liquidation and that the costs be borne by the respondent. It was also reported last year that the party was struggling to pay R4.5m owed to a Pretoria businessman.

“The NFP does not have a future as Ivan Rowan Barnes (NFP president) and Teddy Thwala (the secretary-general) are right now busy fighting publicly,” said the former leader.

Last week the Daily News, sister newspaper of the Sunday Tribune, reported that Barnes had suspended Thwala from the party.

NFP deputy president Dodge Sokhela said the party would continue to play its role in the provincial cabinet, although it was currently dealing with problems that had been created by a leadership vacuum for many years.

“Right now, we plan to grow the party and elect leadership structures, and if the secretary-general is fired, the national working committee would elect someone to replace him,” said Sokhela.

He said the NFP was dealing with only two court cases at present.

The tensions in the NFP come as KZN Premier Thami Ntuli commended the IFP for its maturity in handling the formation of the multiparty government.

Ntuli, who is the chairperson of the IFP, said all the partners in the government of provincial unity – the IFP, ANC, DA and NFP – had a common understanding of the need for service delivery.

“The IFP was leading the talks in KZN and we were honest with the principle of proportionality as being informed by the Statement of Intent.

“We said as much as we might have wanted more (positions), when you build on the principle, you build something stronger, and our main focus was always on the service delivery,” he said.

As the premier, Ntuli decided on the portfolio allocations.

“There was no discussion around who will be appointed to which portfolio,” he said.

Currently, the GNU and the GPU do not have legal frameworks to regulate and guard the parties’ relationship.

While the make-up of the national Cabinet and the KZN cabinet has been settled, weeks of squabbling between parties in Gauteng have ended with the DA’s decision not to form part of the executive in that province’s GPU.

Solly Msimanga, the DA leader in Gauteng, said the offer made to the party was unfair and unreasonable. He said they would not be functionaries who rubber-stamped decisions.

“Negotiations are meant to be principle-based, as per the Statement of Intent that both the ANC and the DA signed on a national level.

“The ANC’s Gauteng leadership and negotiations team do not view this critically important document in the same light. If both parties were negotiating in good faith, the situation might have been different now.

“That was not the case, and the DA cannot be a part of a government that does not value fairness, proportionality and principles in the same way as we do.”

However, Msimanga told the Sunday Tribune that the relationships between the ANC and the DA in KZN and in the national government were safe and would not be affected by the squabbles in Gauteng.

“What happened in Gauteng should not impact KZN and national, because the attitude of the provincial guys in Gauteng versus the provincial guys in KZN and at the national level is very different,” he said.

At the centre of the lengthy and hostile bilateral discussions between the DA and ANC in Gauteng was the allocation of seats in the cabinet.

Sunday Tribune