An intervention by Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe this week saved a coalition agreement between the African Independent Congress (AIC) and the ANC — for now.
AIC president Mandla Galo last week threatened to withdraw from the coalition, which helped the ANC to retain control of the Ekurhuleni metro and Rustenburg municipality after the governing party failed to get more than 50% during local government elections.
The ruling party seemed on course to renege on a deal for the incorporation of Matatiele back into KwaZulu-Natal, with ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe suggesting the AIC’s demand was unreasonable. The smaller party agreed to the coalition on condition that the move take place.
Matatiele was moved from KwaZulu-Natal to the Eastern Cape in 2005, despite local opposition to the decision.
More than 10 years later, the AIC earned the title of king-maker after the local elections. This is despite it being formed with the sole purpose of returning Matatiele to KwaZulu-Natal.
This week, the AIC president told the Mail & Guardian that Radebe’s intervention was instrumental in maintaining the brittle relationship between the two parties.
“The coalition between the ANC and AIC is safe for now. Jeff Radebe has demonstrated commitment and took us into his confidence about their plans,” said Galo.
“On Monday, Radebe will discuss our demands with the ANC’s national working committee, and then with the co-operative governance ministry.”
Both parties have agreed to set timelines for the introduction of provincial legislature Bills to amend the border after the next meeting on March 15.
Galo said Radebe’s intervention inspired hope for a future relationship.
“The intervention of Radebe gave us hope that the ANC will honour its commitment to move Matatiele back to KZN. The fact that he’s minister in the presidency and that he will now raise this matter in Cabinet, it is a welcome sign. His intervention was quite presidential,” he said.