We're not interested in 'token mayorships': IFP hits back at Malema after breakdown in relations

30th January 2023 By: News24Wire

 We're not interested in 'token mayorships': IFP hits back at Malema after breakdown in relations

The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) says the Economic Freedom Fighters's (EFF's) preoccupation with positions and lack of interest in service delivery are the reasons for the breakdown in relations between the two parties.

IFP leader Velenkosini Hlabisa held a media briefing in Durban on Monday morning after EFF leader Julius Malema's announcement on Sunday that his party was cutting all ties with the IFP.

At his briefing, Hlabisa placed the bulk of the blame on the EFF, saying the party was not interested in delivering services to communities but was more interested in positions of power and influence in municipalities where it was in coalition with the IFP.

Hlabisa cited the uMhlathuze municipality in KwaZulu-Natal and municipalities in Gauteng, saying the EFF wanted a "barter trade type of governing where you scratch my back, and I scratch yours".

"The EFF wanted the mayorship in uMhlathuze, and in turn, they suggested giving us Mogale City. As a principled party, we could not accept such an arrangement because their people in those municipalities did not vote for the IFP or the EFF," said Hlabisa.

He said Johannesburg had a "token mayor in place" after the EFF and the African National Congress (ANC) joined forces in their "coalition of convenience".

The Democratic Alliance's (DA's) Mpho Phalatse was ousted as Johannesburg mayor last week, with Al Jama-ah's Thapelo Amad being elected to the position despite being a minority party with just 1% of the council seats.

On Monday, at a media briefing in Soweto, Phalatse announced that she would be running for the position of DA federal chair at the party's conference in April.

The IFP said the EFF's support for "token minority mayors" in Gauteng metros, including Tshwane and Ekurhuleni, demonstrated that "the EFF is not serious about governance and is only interested in positions of power that would allow them to loot".

Hlabisa said the IFP refused to fall into a trap where it would be forced into any relationship with the ANC.

"The ANC is the problem; they have failed our people. We are currently experiencing unprecedented levels of load shedding, and this is because of the ANC, and now we are being compelled to join forces with them at the expense of the people of our country. That can never be," said Hlabisa.

His utterances came a day after Malema said the EFF was cutting ties with the IFP.

This was after the two parties met earlier this month to discuss a balance in power-sharing in municipalities with coalitions. These include the Zululand, Amajuba, uThukela, Umkhanyakude, and King Cetshwayo district municipalities, as well as the Ulundi, Nongoma, Mtubatuba, uMhlathuze, Jozini, Dannhauser, Alfred Duma, Inkosi Langalibalele, AbaQulusi, uPhongolo, and Umhlabuyalingana local municipalities.

Malema said the EFF would ensure that the IFP was removed from all positions of responsibility in all Gauteng municipalities.

"We have communicated this with the leadership of the IFP and have instructed EFF deputy mayors to resign… and remain as ordinary councillors," Malema said on Sunday.

Hlabisa said it was not true that they were unwilling to negotiate with the EFF as they had suggested that the EFF could take charge in the Msunduzi, KwaDukuza or uMdoni municipalities, but the EFF was adamant that it wanted the mayorship in uMhlathuze instead, which the IFP rejected.

Despite the breakdown in talks, Hlabisa and Malema both indicated that they were still willing to engage in discussions if the other placed the interests of the communities first and was not driven by political expediency.

"Coalitions are new in South Africa and are unavoidable. In 2024, there is no single party that will get over 50%, and we will, as parties, need to learn to work together in the interests of the people. We (the IFP) are the third biggest political party that is governing after the ANC and the DA," said Hlabisa.