/ 19 April 2024

IFP deputy president Inkosi Mzamo Buthelezi say the party is willing to go into coalition with ANC and EFF

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Under discussion: The IFP’s Mzomo Buthelezi (centre) presents his party’s stance at the election debate hosted by the Mail & Guardian and the University of Fort Hare. Photo: Delwyn Verasamy

The Inkatha Freedom Party is willing to go into coalition with the ANC and Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) should the party and its partners in Multi Party Charter of South Africa fail to win next month’s general elections with an outright majority, deputy president Mzomo Buthelezi said.

Buthelezi made the comment during an election debate hosted by the Mail & Guardian and the University of Fort Hare on Wednesday night, in response to a question about the IFP’s willinesses to form a government of national unity.

Senior representatives of the ANC, Democratic Alliance, EFF, IFP and ActionSA took part in the debate.

IFP president Velenkosini Hlabisa had earlier also expressed the openness to the party serving in a government of national unity (GNU) after the 29  May vote, should the need arise.

At Wednesday’s debate, Buthelezi said the party was open to working with both the ANC and EFF should the DA-steered multi-party charter, to which the IFP is a signatory, fail to garner the 50% plus one votes required to govern outright.

“Our president alluded to this point. As the IFP we are part of the (charter) but if we do not get 50 plus one … the IFP is open to any political party including the ANC, EFF and all other parties. That will be determined after, but our first goal is to get into government with our partners in the (charter),” he said.

“At the end of the day all the parties that will be voted into parliament including independent candidates will be given a mandate by the people of this country to form a government. Whether one party gets the majority of the votes, at the end of the day the government is formed by the same people.”

In an apparent reference to what has happened in local government, where the ANC has lost its control of several metros, Buthelezi said history showed that the ruling party was less “arrogant” and easier to work without an outright majority.

It was this arrogance which had put the ANC’s support from the electorate on a downward trajectory, Buthelezi added.

But DA chief whip Siviwe Gwarube said her party was not interested in resuscitating the ANC from its “deathbed”, saying the intention behind forming the multi-party charter was to work with a combination of political parties with shared values and goals.

Gwarube’s comments reflected a more hardline view than DA leader John Steenhuisen, who left the door slightly open to co-governing with the ANC as a last resort during an interview with the M&G last month.

Gwarube said the reason the MPC got together even before the elections is because they wanted to make sure that they iron out the issues they agreed and disagreed upon and identify what their post election program would be.

“We are focused on growing our share of the vote, we are focused on forming a coalition government with our MPC partners. Right now we are not interested in how we resuscitate a dying organisation to the edges of obscurity,” she said.

ActionSA Eastern Cape chairperson Athol Trollip said the party had made it clear that it would not go into coalition with the ANC at any cost. Trollip said ActionSA would go into coalition with parties with similar ideologies, values and principles. 

He also took a swipe at EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu — saying the only reason the Red Berets would consider going into coalition with the ANC was because they wanted to steal from the country’s coffers.

Trollip was referring to comments by EFF president Julius Malema earlier this month, who told JJ Tabane on the Frank Dialogue show that the party would consider going into coalition with the ANC if t Shivambu was given the position of finance minister.

“I am prepared to give the EFF vote to the ANC nationally if it doesn’t get 50%. I don’t need the glory of being a deputy president or president. I will make one demand: make Floyd Shivambu minister of finance. That’s all,” Malema said.

At the debate on Wednesday, Trollip questioned why the EFF wanted control of the finance ministry.  

“There are other political parties which have said like the EFF that if they don’t get a majority they will give their vote to the ANC on condition they make this man [Floyd Shivambu] a minister of treasury. Why do they want the ministry of finance? They want to steal. 

“There is another political party which is a member of our multi-party coalition which says they will consider a coalition with the worst [available] option. We are not going in and out of coalitions, we are with the MPC and we are not going into coalition with the ANC or EFF,” he said.

Trollip said some political parties had made coalitions into a transactional deal for “politics of the stomach”. 

Some parties liked chaos because it allowed them to be corrupt, he said.  

Shivambu vowed during the debate that the multi party coalition would not lead the government in South Africa, saying the EFF would win the elections and Malema would be president.

“We are clear of what is happening in this country and we know who our primary enemy is, and that continues to be the white capitalist establishment which is trying to take power through these puppet parties,” he said.

The ANC’s representative in the debate, national executive committee member Parks Tau, said reality was that coalitions had not worked at local government level, because of opportunism. 

“You can go into Tshwane today and the reality of the people of the capital city is a very difficult reality and that reality is what the people feel daily,” Tau said.

“As the national executive committee of the ANC we have not discussed coalitions because we are confident that the people of this country are committed to transformation and why would they want us to talk to parties that say we must not have affirmative action.”