The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) national executive committee (NEC) has said the party’s decision to align itself with the African National Congress (ANC) in the City of Johannesburg “was done in the collective interests of service delivery and to restore stability”.
The IFP NEC further said the party “will maintain its individual identity” in the metro “and uphold its values” and that “agreeing to work with the ANC” does not make it “an extension” of the latter party “just as it was not an extension of the [Democratic Alliance] in the previous arrangement”.
The party said this after the recently elected City of Johannesburg mayor Geoff Makhubo on Saturday announced his multi-party coalition mayoral team, which includes two IFP councillors, namely, Nonhlanhla Makhuba in the department of transport and Mlungisi Mabaso in the department of human Settlements.
IFP national spokesperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa said Makhuba – IFP Women’s Brigade deputy national chairperson – has held this portfolio with “diligence and professionalism since 2016”.
He said Mabaso, IFP Youth Brigade national secretary, “brings with him youthful energy and innovation” to the portfolio and that he has been a member of the portfolio committee since 2016.
“We wish our comrades well in the execution of their duties,” Hlengwa said.
Makhubo was elected mayor of the City of Johannesburg last Wednesday, which saw the ANC reclaiming the metro which it lost to a DA-led coalition government in the 2016 municipal elections. The latter coalition included the IFP.
Makhubo’s election followed the resignation of Herman Mashaba as the mayor of the city.
Hlengwa said Mashaba’s resignation “provided an opportunity for the cooperation agreement to press the reset button and fix that which had [been] broken”.
“The set of circumstances which have prevailed in the City of Johannesburg have been very difficult to navigate, and ultimately hard choices had to be made,” Hlengwa said.
Hlengwa said the cooperation agreement which was concluded in 2016 “has not been without its problems, and at every material point of difficulty, the IFP has remained committed to the agreement”.
Hlengwa said the IFP would at times be “undermined, overlooked” or “isolated” in the metro, which was “contrary to the dictates of the cooperation agreement”.
“But despite these challenges, we have pressed on,” Hlengwa said.
He said that in 2017 an IFP MMC was removed without the party being consulted, adding that the remaining IFP councillor “subsequently did not enjoy the latitude of her office with an overshadowing mayor”.
“The list of challenges in the City of Johannesburg [are] endless,” Hlengwa said.
He further said that it was clear that “the fielding of two mayoral candidates from two of the parties in the cooperation agreement, namely the DA and [Economic Freedom Fighters]” during last week’s election of a new mayor “was amongst other factors indicative of a deadlock” in the metro.
“Operations in cooperations and coalitions are not the prerogative or sole preserve of the leading party; and consultations, negotiations and mutual respect form the fundamental basis of interaction which increasingly became absent in the City of Johannesburg as was the case in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro and Mogale City.
“These challenges are not universal in the cooperation agreement.
“Our arrangement therefore in Johannesburg [was] not characterised by a ‘quid pro quo’ as has been largely and wrongly reported,” Hlengwa said.
Therefore, the IFP decided to vote with the ANC in the interest of service delivery and to restore stability in the metro, he added.
“The citizens of the City of Johannesburg could not be subjected to playing second fiddle to party politicking with service delivery being brought to a halt,” Hlengwa said.
He said in the departments where the IFP has been “deployed”, the party will endeavour to deliver quality services.
“Coalitions are not easy, particularly given their newness to South Africa, and they come with many lessons,” he said.