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06 Jul 2009 12:44
The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) on Monday rejected a call by African National Congress (ANC) president Jacob Zuma for the two parties to merge.
“The SACP [South African Communist Party] is in alliance with the ANC, but it retains its constitution and it has its own leaders. So why in our case does Zuma want us to be swallowed?” said IFP general secretary Musa Zondi.
Addressing hundreds of ANC members attending a provincial general council at the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Westville Campus on Saturday, Zuma said he would soon resume talks with IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi about combining the two parties.
Zuma said the IFP had been formed in the 1970s to mobilise people when the ANC was banned.
The IFP had to “come back home” because the ANC was now unbanned.
Zondi described Zuma’s move as “over ambitious”, saying his party was only interested in solving the issue of tensions between members of the two organisations, but not the merger.
He said combining parties was not good for multiparty democracy.
Political analyst Kiru Naidu described Zuma’s proposal as ambitious.
“The IFP has been steadily on the decline for the past decade. Its showing in the last election was dismal. It is a fertile ground for the ANC to move in its remaining support base.”
It would be interesting to see Buthelezi’s reaction to Zuma’s proposal, as any ANC interest in the IFP was likely to spell the end of his political fortunes, said Naidu.
Zakhele Ndlovu, another political analyst, said it was unlikely the merger would take place before the 2011 local government elections.
“For now the IFP will say that they don’t want it, but if they continue to perform badly during the upcoming elections, they will definitely support the merger,” he said.
He said Buthelezi was likely to support the merger if the IFP’s support continued to dwindle.
“Accepting amalgamation would be a better option for Buthelezi to save his legacy from crumbling. Buthelezi’s legacy will vanish if his party’s support continues to fall,” said Ndlovu.
He said amalgamating the two parties was likely to cause tensions as people would fight for positions.
“The ANC has many people who have been waiting for a long time to get positions. They will not be happy when positions are given to new members from the IFP.
“The ANC will have to manage the merger well to prevent tensions,” he said.—Sapa
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