Zuma’s party sidelined

NFP leader Ivan Barnes speaking at media briefing on Thursday where he dropped his bombshell. | Supplied

NFP leader Ivan Barnes speaking at media briefing on Thursday where he dropped his bombshell. | Supplied

Published Jun 14, 2024


Durban — The buoyant National Freedom Party (NFP) ended days of speculation yesterday, announcing the IFP-ANC-DA bloc as its partners to co-govern the hung KwaZulu-Natal – summarily dashing the hopes of the uMkhonto weSizwe Party (MKP) of governing the province.

KZN, a former heartland of the struggling ANC, failed to get an outright single winner during the May 29 elections for the first time since 2004.

With its single seat, the NFP became a kingmaker in KZN, and political leaders – including MKP’s leader, former president Jacob Zuma, went to the NFP leader – hat in hand – to court him.

High on confidence, NFP leader Ivan Barnes told a media briefing yesterday that his party would be backing the IFP-ANC-DA grouping.

“We wish to announce that the NFP supports and subscribes to the formation of the Government of National Unity (GNU) at the national level and the Government of Provincial Unity (GPU) in KwaZulu-Natal,” Barnes said.

He added: “We are encouraged by the level of engagement with the ANC and other political parties, such as the IFP, who have agreed to form the GPU. The spirit of partnership and the maturity that have characterised negotiations are a source of inspiration and hope for millions of people.”

The NFP’s seat will place the grouping at 41 seats – which paves the way for governing the 80-seat provincial legislature. The IFP has 15, the ANC 14, the DA 11, the EFF two, and the kingmaker, the NFP, has a powerful single seat.

NFP leader Ivan Barnes said his party would be backing the IFP-ANC-DA grouping. Picture: Supplied

The MKP will not be part of the provincial government despite the party scoring the highest number of seats at 37. Any coalition with the NFP, as previously speculated, would have put the MKP-EFF group at 40 – which would have forced a tie.

Barnes’s decision to join the IFP-ANC-DA coalition would be richly rewarding as he is rumoured to be in line to be a minister in the yet-to-be-announced national Cabinet or an MEC in KZN.

He said: “Our joining of the Government of National Unity and the Provincial Government of National Unity is not motivated by a desire for positions but by the desire to forge a new society with a new identity.”

He added: “We need a combination of skills, strong political will, and selflessness to put this country on a new trajectory of socio-economic development. This is what the GNU and PGU will offer.”

After Barnes’s announcement, it is now a foregone conclusion that the bloc will emerge in today’s provincial legislature sitting in Pietermaritzburg to elect a new premier, speaker and deputy speaker.

Before his announcement, it was highly speculated that Barnes would throw his weight in with the MKP after his pictures with MKP leader Zuma were widely circulated.

The NFP will also be part of the GNU nationally, said Barnes. The NFP already had a working deal with the ANC in eThekwini Municipality which saw the NFP’s Zandile Myeni being elected as the deputy mayor in the metro in February last year.

The IFP’s provincial chairperson, Thami Ntuli, is tipped to be the next premier of KZN. He is also the current mayor of the King Cetshwayo District Municipality.

If he emerges as the new premier today, Ntuli would have to pick his provincial cabinet members, who would come from the IFP-ANC-DA-NFP coalition.

MKP spokesperson Nhlamulo Ndhlela described the IFP-led coalition as a “conglomeration of rejects” during his interview with eNCA on Wednesday.

“It is going to be difficult for them to govern because they were rejected by the people,” he said.

Despite being blocked by minority parties, Ndhlela said they would continue to persuade other parties to form a government with them.

uMkhonto weSizwe Party leader and former president Jacob Zuma’s attempts to persuade the NFP to back his party have failed. Picture: Itumeleng English/ Independent Newspapers

Meanwhile, the ANC’s long-time historical alliance partners, the SACP and Congress of the South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), rebuked the ANC for forming a coalition with “enemy” parties like the DA.

During a media briefing yesterday, Cosatu’s provincial secretary, Edwin Mkhize, said: “As Cosatu in the province, we are quite disturbed that our leaders of the ANC in the province continue to marginalise the alliance partners in these talks. We fully support the stance taken by our federation, which opposes the ANC coalition with the DA.”

Themba Mthembu, the SACP’s provincial secretary, did not pull any punches, accusing the ANC of “sleeping with the enemy”.

“The majority of people in KZN voted for the MK Party. Logic and democracy dictate that the MKP should be part of the provincial government,” said Mthembu.

With weeks of political wrangling, KZN will have a new premier and cabinet, but questions abound as to how long the coalition would cling to power as coalitions are known to be unpredictable.

EFF leader Julius Malema warned that if the MKP was excluded from the KZN provincial government, “that will be a provocation to the people of KZN. We Can’t blame them if they react.”

This undermines the will of the people of KZN, who voted in their majority, said Malema.

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