Small parties caught in infighting

2013-02-26 00:00

THE infighting over leadership in the Minority Front showed how small parties were disintegrating rather than consolidating to challenge the ANC, according to a political analyst.

Independent political analyst Somadoda Fikeni said yesterday that this trend is more prevalent in KwaZulu-Natal.

Fikeni made the comments as the Minority Front was embroiled in a leadership squabble with two of its leaders claiming to be the legitimate leader yesterday.

This after one faction named MPL Shameen Thakur-Rajbansi as their new leader after she was “unanimously” elected at a conference held in Pietermaritzburg on Friday.

Thakur-Rajbansi was elected three months after she was deposed and replaced by MP Roy Bhoola at another conference in Durban. But Bhoola has dismissed her election saying he was the legitimate leader of the Minority Front, despite protests from his rival and her supporters.

The leadership infighting in KwaZulu-Natal was not confined to the Minority Front as the IFP experienced it two years ago, resulting in former chairperson Zanele Magwaza-Msibi forming the NFP amid a fierce contest for leadership position.

Fikeni said infighting over leadership in the parties showed that some people preferred to lead rather than serve as followers in case their parties secured limited seats in Parliament or legislatures after elections.

“Many leaders and people would rather be heads of chickens than be tails of elephants. They want to lead by all means,” he said.

The electoral system dictates that parties must meet a sizeable threshold in votes to secure a seat for each public representative.

Fikeni also said the situation was worsened by a growing trend where politics was no longer a calling. “People see politics as a career path offering opportunities, hence the struggle for leadership positions is desperate. This has nothing to do with what one is to contribute to the political landscape.”

Yesterday, a faction in the Minority Front aligned to Thakur-Rajbansi insisted that Friday’s conference was the only legal national conference since Amichand Rajbansi died in December 2011.

An attempt by three eThekwini councillors — Ismail Cassimjee, Ganas Govender and Dheenadayala Govender — to interdict the conference failed.

Dheenadayala Govender said their application was dismissed on technical grounds. “We lost on the urgency basis. The court ruling was not saying the conference was legal. We are consulting our attorneys and we are to decide thereafter,” Govender said.

Thakur-Rajbansi said in a statement that she welcomed her new role and will continue to serve the constituencies without fear or favour.

Her deputy Patrick Pillay said Thakur-Rajbansi was the legitimate leader and that the Friday meeting was legal.

But, Bhoola disputed this, insisting that he was the only leader of the Minority Front. “I consider myself to be the legitimate leader elected through a democratic process by 400 delegates,” he said.

Of the conference that elected Bhoola, Pillay said: “That was not a conference. We have always maintained that.”

• mayibongwe.maqhina@witness.co.za

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