Dramatic twists and turns in local coalition talks

IFP president Velenkosini Hlabisa. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/ Independent Newspapers

IFP president Velenkosini Hlabisa. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/ Independent Newspapers

Published Jun 13, 2024


Durban — The coalition talks are filled with dramatic twists and turns after the IFP said the door was still open for talks with the Umkhonto weSizwe Party (MKP) about governing KwaZulu-Natal.

Until now, it was thought to be a foregone conclusion that the ANC-IFP-DA grouping would co-govern the hung province along with the NFP ahead of the first sitting of the provincial legislature on Friday.

This is despite the MKP winning the highest number of votes in the province at the May 29 elections, which translated into 37 seats in the provincial legislature with 80 seats.

The IFP won 15 seats, the ANC 14, the DA 11, the EFF two and the NFP one.

However, things took an extraordinary turn, with claims that the MKP’s leader, former president Jacob Zuma, had a last-minute meeting with Ivan Barnes, the president of the National Freedom Party (NFP), on Wednesday.

After this, Barnes, who holds the key single seat in the provincial legislature, allegedly switched sides and joined the MKP coalition.

During the briefing in Durban on Wednesday, IFP leader Velenkosini Hlabisa said the IFP was still open to engagements with the MKP.

“On the MKP question and the subsequent letter, which has been circulating in the public domain, we can confirm that we have received the letter, and we agreed to meet with them,” said Hlabisa.

He added: “However, the MKP leadership failed to honour a prearranged meeting. Our delegation waited for some time. When they failed to arrive, the meeting was cancelled. There have been renewed attempts today by MK to reach the IFP.”

He said IFP spokesperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa, who is also the spokesperson of the IFP, waited another two hours, but still, the MKP leaders were a no-show.

Despite this, Hlabisa said the party would still engage with the MKP.

Nationally, Hlabisa said the IFP would join the Government of Unity (GNU) bandwagon that has the ANC as its de facto leader.

He, however, shot down claims that he was eyeing the second deputy president post as reported, saying the country does not have this position and the Constitution does not make provisions for such.

Hlabisa added that the party would convene another meeting of the extended National Council, the highest decision-making body, with more than 600 leaders, as the coalition talk continues.

The MKP refuted claims that it did not attend the meeting, saying the IFP demanded five key portfolios - including the plum premier position.

Ahead of the crucial legislature meeting on Friday, it is now all to speculation who the next premier would be.

Meanwhile, the ANC’s long-time key alliance partners have slammed the party over its decision to work with the DA in provinces with hung legislatures, including KZN.

The SACP and the Cosatu have broken ranks and hauled the ANC over the coals on the eve of the first sitting of the provincial legislature billed for Friday.

At the core of their grievances is the decision of the ANC to team up with the DA, the IFP, and the NFP to govern KZN.

The DA and the ANC, former sworn enemies, have buried the hatched and are ready to co-govern nationally and in hung provincial legislatures – including KZN – under the GNU.

Themba Mthembu. | File Image

Themba Mthembu, the SACP’s provincial secretary, did not mince his words during his interview with the Daily News.

“This is selling out. It flies against the will of the people who voted in their majority for the MK Party. As the SACP, we are against such a coalition, and we are warning the ANC about the backlash from the voters,” he said.

Mthembu, the outgoing deputy speaker of the provincial legislature and former MEC for agriculture in KZN warned the ANC to reverse its decision to form a coalition with the DA.

Edwin Mkhize, provincial secretary of Cosatu, was equally scathing.

“We stand against such a decision that will make our people view us (the alliance) as sell-outs. We feel left out in the negotiations before such a decision was taken. If we were included, we would openly reject it, like we are doing now,” said Mkhize.

Mkhize said the ANC-DA-IFP and the NFP deal was “doomed to fail.”

SACP, Cosatu, and Sanco will hold a media briefing today (on Thursday) at the Royal Hotel in Durban.

WhatsApp your views on this story to 071 485 7995.

Daily News