The federal executive of the New National Party, which ruled South Africa in the form of the apartheid National Party from 1948 to 1994, met in Johannesburg on Monday afternoon and took the unanimous decision to disband.
The party opted to fall under the umbrella of the ruling African National Congress shortly after the national election in April last year. Its public representatives fall under the discipline of the ANC.
In a statement, released on Tuesday afternoon, NNP secretary general Daryl Swanepoel said the federal executive will request the federal council — the top structure of the party — to “recommend to the federal congress that the party disband at [midnight] on the day of final certification of the results for the upcoming general local government elections. The NNP will remain a registered political party until said date.”
A federal council and federal congress meeting will be called for April 9 and will consider the recommendation, he said.
Local government elections are expected later this year or early next year but the NNP is not expected to contest these elections as a separate political party.
“The NNP is of the firm conviction that the best way to secure a united South Africa is to ensure inclusivity in decision-making; and to achieve this, it is crucial for black, white, coloured and Indian [people] to join forces within the ranks of the [ruling] ANC so as to work together to build a united South Africa that serves all its people,” said Swanepoel.
“The minority communities must guard against isolating themselves from the political mainstream. They should secure their future by working with their fellow South Africans in the ANC by creating a South Africa which is co-dependent on all who live within it.”
De Klerk distances himself from NNP
Speaking at the Cape Town Press Club on Monday, the last National Party president, FW de Klerk, distanced himself from his former party.
Asked about his political allegiance and whether NNP leader Marthinus van Schalkwyk, his chosen successor, had sold out the party’s support base, De Klerk said: “I distance myself from the decisions from the National Party after the elections. I strongly supported the platform in the election [that one] needs opposition parties to be cooperative [and] constructive in approach [to the ANC].”
This would have meant that where consensus could not be reached, the NNP could announce its policy in contrast with the ANC but remain a separate party, he said.
“That has been denounced by the National Party after the election. In that sense of the word, the day they announced their members would have dual membership and fall under the discipline of the ANC caucus, it reneged on what [its voters] voted for … I distanced myself from the NP. I no longer support it.”
He said he is now in “a political diaspora”, but urged people to vote for opposition parties — and not stay away from the polls as many had done in the previous election.
He said he quite likes the Democratic Alliance’s strong support of group rights — a move away from its individualist stances of the past — in supporting Afrikaans schools.
When De Klerk retired from formal politics in 1997, Van Schalkwyk lost the official opposition status in the 1999 election — with electoral support dropping from about 20% in 1994 to less than 7%.
After forming an alliance with the liberal Democratic Party in 2000 — which had replaced the NNP as the official opposition — he then took his party out of the new DA in 2001 and formed a working relationship with the ANC.
Last year, the party lost its position as lead party in the government in the Western Cape legislature and won less than 2% support nationally, with only seven seats in the National Assembly. — I-Net Bridge