IFP plans for upcoming elections
Pietermaritzburg – The IFP on Wednesday said it was working hard to win the hearts of residents of the beleaguered ANC-run Msunduzi Municipality ahead of the upcoming local elections.
The Inkatha Freedom Party was also hatching a plan to recapture strategic KwaZulu-Natal municipalities it had lost to its rival, the ANC, since 1996.
These municipalities included Umhlathuze (Richard's Bay and Empangeni), Ugu (Port Shepstone) and Ladysmith, said IFP national organiser Albert Mncwango.
“We are busy mobilising. The Msunduzi which incorporates Pietermaritzburg is a priority. We also want to recapture the lost grounds especially strategic municipalities.”
The ANC, which performed badly during the first local government elections in 1996, was now almost neck and neck with the IFP in KwaZulu-Natal.
The IFP controlled 32 municipalities while the ANC ran 29.
Local government elections take place next year.
The ruling party had gained some municipalities through the controversial floor crossing which allowed councillors to jump ship without losing their seats. The floor crossing legislation had since been abolished.
Mncwango said Msunduzi municipality residents deserved better service than the substandard service they were getting from the ANC.
Some senior managers at the Msunduzi Municipality were suspended after it was plunged into serious financial problems earlier this year.
The mayor's entire municipal executive was also dissolved. With the national government refusing to bail it out, the municipality was still languishing in financial doldrums.
“We want to liberate Pietermaritzburg. It will be war. We want Pietermaritzburg and other municipalities that we lost,” Mncwango said.
He said it would be easy for his party to win Umhlathuze because its residents still remembered the IFP’s impeccable record when it governed the town.
“We were not voted out by people. We lost the municipality through floor crossing. The fact that we have an impeccable record of governing that municipality is also a plus for us.”
He said plans for the elections were being weighed down by internal divisions in the party.
“Although we are doing well in terms of planning one cannot ignore the issue of internal problems. It definitely divides our attention.”
The IFP had spent more time resolving internal divisions over the lobbying for top positions ahead of its elective conference than carrying out campaigning work.
These divisions resulted in the conference being postponed several times.
IFP members had been expelled for openly lobbying for IFP national chairperson Zanele Magwaza-Msibi to take over the party’s presidency from Mangosuthu Buthelezi.
Mncwango said he believed the IFP elective conference would still take place before the end of this year because the party was “winning” in dealing with the divisions which had seen the conference postponed indefinitely.
He said, however: “Another problem that may delay the conference even further is the issue of people who have taken the IFP to court.”
Ousted from power
Wiseman Mcoyi, Nhlanhla Khawula, Thokozani Zulu and Ntuthuko Gumede had approached the KwaZulu-Natal High Court seeking an order to remove the IFP national council and national executive committee from office.
They argued that IFP leaders avoided holding an elective conference because they were aware they would be ousted from power if it took place.
They said the term of office for the top five party officials including Buthelezi had expired in June 2009.
The IFP was also facing the challenge of growing ANC support in KwaZulu-Natal since 1994. The IFP lost the province to the ANC in 2004 after governing it for two terms.
It was also announced during the ANC national general council last week that the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal registered the biggest membership growth in the country between 2007 and 2010.
ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe told delegates that 127 875 people had joined the ruling party since December 2007.
KwaZulu-Natal registered the biggest gains with 89 876 new members, 70% of the total.