DA sets coalition conditions for IFP in KwaZulu-Natal

The parties are finalising a coalition agreement that will see them co-governing the province should the ANC fall below 50% in the 2024 general elections

DA sets coalition conditions for IFP in KwaZulu-Natal
Gravitas: Velenkosini Hlabisa brings his experience to his new post as leader of the Inkatha Freedom Party.

The IFP’s failure to rein in poor service delivery and misconduct among its mayors and councillors has opened the door for the DA to play a big brother role in the envisaged coalition meant to dislodge the ANC from power in KwaZulu-Natal.

The two political parties, which currently have a cooperative agreement, are finalising a coalition agreement which will see the DA and IFP co-governing KZN should the ANC fall below 50% in next year’s general elections.

However, given the allegations of maladministration accompanied by what appears to be the IFP leadership’s failure to hold its mayors and councillors who have been accused of misconduct to account, the DA has insisted that the IFP should first sign an agreement which will give the DA a bigger say on governance issues in IFP-run municipalities.

The service delivery pact will compel the IFP to, among other things, take steps against its mayors and councillors who are either underperforming or involved in wrongdoing.

While DA KZN leader Francois Rodgers maintained that the party was committed to working with the IFP, he conceded that the DA was concerned about what was happening in some of the IFP-led municipalities.

A good example would be the issue around a councillor who has been embroiled in a sex-for-jobs scandal, he said

“Despite an assurance from the IFP leadership that a decision has been taken to remove that councillor, he is still in his job. These are some of the things which as the DA we believe can be effectively dealt with in the service delivery pact, which we are confident will be concluded in the next few days.”

Apart from that councillor, the IFP had to manage public outrage after an audio clip of the party’s Abaqulusi Municipality mayor Mncedisi Maphisa, interfering in the administrative affairs of the municipality, went viral.

In the audio clip, Maphisa could also be heard making sexist remarks in the presence of a female municipal official.

In an exclusive interview with The Witness, IFP president Velenkosini Hlabisa said that the party was in the process of finalising monitoring and oversight structures, given that it had gained control of most of its KZN municipalities at the end of 2021.

Hlabisa denied that the party had turned a blind eye to poor service delivery and misconduct on the part of the organisation’s mayors and councillors.

“Having said that, in all the cases where the IFP leadership received complaints or evidence of wrongdoing on the part of IFP deployees, we have acted,” he said. 

On the councillor matter, Hlabisa, however, conceded that the IFP was yet to implement its decision to remove him.

“Indeed, it’s true that the IFP leadership took a decision to remove the councillor. However, the implementation of that decision was put on hold after he submitted a report, whose contents are currently being processed by the IFP leadership.

“Once that report has been processed, a final decision on the councillor matter would be made,” he said.

It has since emerged that the councillor is now the subject of a police investigation.

On the new developments around the councillor matter, Hlabisa said the IFP has assembled a team to investigate the circumstances surrounding the criminal investigation against him.

“At this stage, the IFP leadership is not certain if the criminal investigation is linked to the jobs-for-sex scandal allegations against the councillor … a decision would be made once the IFP has gathered all the relevant facts,” he said.

The ANC in the Abaqulusi Municipality has claimed that the IFP has failed to remove Maphisa as councillor despite the serious allegations against him.

Hlabisa, however, was adamant that the IFP leadership acted in the Maphisa matter.

“He was removed as the mayor of the Abaqulusi Municipality. So, it’s not true that the IFP leadership failed to act,” he said.

It is the ANC’s view that Maphisa should also have been removed as a councillor, but Hlabisa said there had not been any decision to do such. 

“As the IFP, when we sanction a member, the punishment is meant to correct the deviant behaviour, and not to destroy the person. What the ANC is asking us to do is to destroy councillor Maphisa. As the IFP we are not in the business of destroying people.”

This article was first published in The Witness


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