After saying they would not enter into coalitions with the ANC in hung municipalities in KwaZulu-Natal, the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) on Wednesday made an about-turn and announced a governance pact with ANC in hung municipalities in the province.
IFP president Velenkosini Hlabisa made the announcement at a media briefing in Durban.
He said the agreement was sanctioned by the party’s national council – the IFP’s highest decision-making body in between conferences.
According to the agreement, the ANC will take over control of municipalities where it has the majority of votes. The same thing would happen in hung councils where the IFP has the majority votes.
“We’ll support the principle of the two largest parties becoming the government and official opposition respectively. Accordingly, where the IFP governs, the ANC will become the official opposition and verse versa,” Hlabisa said.
He stressed that the agreement with the ANC did not mean that they were coalition partners.
“A coalition places both parties in power with the sharing of positions. What we are doing is allowing the party with the most votes to govern while the other party is relegated to the opposition,” Hlabisa said.
IFP-ANC to remain political opponents
Hlabisa said the IFP and the ANC will remain political opponents, but “opponents who have agreed to operate on the same principles for the sake of securing stability in local governance.”
He said in municipalities where the IFP governs, they would invite smaller parties and independent candidates to work with them to strengthen good governance.
“By working together with mutual respect, we will achieve the foremost goal of delivering quality services on time. The IFP remains the official opposition in KZN and will remain the biggest threat to corruption and weak leadership,” he said.
Following the 1 November local government elections, the IFP made its stance clear that it would not work with the ANC in KZN.
While it had no issues with the ANC leadership at the national level, the party said it had “issues with ANC leadership in KZN”.
The party also vowed not to bring the ANC back in power via the back door, saying voters had overwhelmingly rejected the governing party.
‘We don’t take voters’ lightly’
Hlabisa said the governance pact with the ANC did not mean they were undermining their supporters, saying they do not take their voters lightly.
“We understand that South Africa has hit rock bottom and that every vote for the IFP was an appeal for change and an appeal for leadership that our people can trust. We remain committed to this appeal by the voters,” he said.