/ 20 August 2023

IFP faces internal backlash over coalition agreement


The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) faces a backlash from its Youth Brigade over its signing of a pre-election coalition agreement with the Democratic Alliance and five other opposition parties last week.

On Saturday, the IFPYB national executive committee resolved that the party should abandon the coalition with the DA, the Freedom Front Plus, the United Independent Movement, ActionSA and the Independent South African National Civic Organisation.

The Brigade’s secretary general, Mlungisi Mabaso, then wrote to IFP president Velenkosini Hlabisa requesting that the party either withdraw from the Multi Party Charter for South Africa, or abandon the agreement it signed not to enter into any arrangement with the ANC or the Economic Freedom FIghters (EFF).

In the letter, Mabaso said that while there was a need to stabilise coalitions ahead of the elections and to explore possible coalitions, this had to be done “in line with the party position to maintain our identity and adhere to party resolutions.”

Mabaso said that the “clear” party position presented at three recent national executive committee meetings by Hlabisa “contradict the position our leaders have presented at the national convention.”

The NEC had noted the IFP’s existing working relations with the DA, ActionSA and others, along with its previous arrangements with the ANC and the EFF and its resolution to conclude a “reconciliation project” with the governing party.

It has also resolved that the IFP would not “close the door “ on potential coalitions with any party and that it would not sign any pre-election coalition agreement, or declare any party as its “political enemy,” Mabaso said.

“The declaration or pre-election agreement signed, and commitments presented by our leaders on behalf of the party at the multi party charter for South Africa are contrary to the party position.”

Mabaso requested that the NEC withdraw the declaration or withdraw from the charter completely and that it issue a media statement that it had done so and to publicly confirm the party’s position.

Mabaso said the youth brigade had made the intervention as it had a “constitutional obligation to protect the integrity of the party and its gains.”

IFP spokesperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa said that the party “notes” the youth brigade’s letter outlining its concerns over the agreement.

Hlengwa said the party believed the letter was “hasty” as Mabaso and the IFPYB acting chairperson Sanele Zondo were full time members of the IFP NEC, which was to be briefed on Monday.

“They have jumped the gun to arrive at conclusive decisions, pronouncements and proposals without having been briefed on the outcomes of the national convention,” Hlengwa said.

“The IFP delegation to the national convention, led by the IFP president, is due to brief the NEC on Monday and the IFPYB is ordinarily free to respond to the outcomes at the meeting.”

The IFP co-governs a number of KwaZulu-Natal municipalities by virtue of a cooperation agreement with the DA, which also sees the parties back a single candidate in by-elections in order to take wards of the ANC.

The parties have made progress since 2016 in taking municipalities – and parliamentary seats – from the ANC in the province, once an ANC stronghold, but now one of its potential weak points going into 2024’s elections.