IFP trio find new home

2013-06-19 00:00

“THE IFP is a hangover from apartheid and it belongs in the past.”

This was the sentiment of former IFP MPL Roman Liptak who, along with MPs Usha Roopnarain and Pat Lebenya-Ntanzi, was officially unveiled as an ANC member in Durban yesterday.

Liptak said his reason for leaving the IFP was that the party was not interested in changing the lives of the poor it represents.

“During my time in the IFP, I had not witnessed a single discussion of policy. What I witnessed instead was endless persecution of individuals whose views differed from the leadership,” said Liptak, who also served as party leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi’s speech writer.

He said that while he was a member of the provincial legislature and shadow cabinet, he pushed for a more constructive approach to opposition.

“I did my best to steer the party towards issues of substance through the speeches I drafted for senior IFP leaders. But the IFP would rather fire cheap shots at the ANC,” Liptak said.

On her decision to leave the IFP after 15 years and join the ANC, Roopnarain told The Witness it was because she wanted to be part of a “progressive organisation”.

“I’ve chosen the ANC as my new political home because I would like to be part of its democratic processes, its principles of non-racialism, non-sexism and contribute to the genuine upliftment of our people,” Roopnarain said.

Roopnarain said she left the party because she couldn’t “sink into a political wilderness where virtues like honesty are not valued”.

She said: “Last year, prior to the elective conference, I was nominated for a position to the National Council. I declined this position, and this was construed as defiance and disrespect to the leader.”

Former IFP Youth Brigade leader Lebenya-Ntanzi, who was also the party’s youngest MP, was fired by the party last year after a reported fallout with Buthelezi. She joined the ANC in July last year.

“I have already been welcomed by the leadership of the party, but today’s event was to introduce me to the media,” she told The Witness.

“I’ll be working closely with the Westville branch and I will be out campaigning for the party ahead of next year’s elections. My work with the ANC will also depend on where the organisation will send me,” she said.

ANC provincial spokesperson Senzo Mkhize said it was still too early to tell where the three would be deployed as they were still under probation. For the time being, they will work along with volunteers during campaigning ahead of the 2014 general elections.

“They have not been promised any positions in the ANC. They only started speaking to the ANC after they had resigned from the IFP,” said Mkhize.

In a statement, the secretary-general of the IFP, Sibongile Nkomo, said the three were not dismissed from their deployment positions, but were recalled. They then chose to resign.

“We are currently assembling our A-team to take on the 2014 election and those who do not make the cut would naturally feel aggrieved.”

She said the defection of the three to the ANC was sad, but not surprising.

IFP spokesperson Joshua Mazibuko labeled the trio “bitter” and “spineless souls”, who could not submit to party authority.

“They saw themselves as more important than the party. Hence their failure to abide by party decisions,” said Mazibuko.

About Liptak and Roopnarain, Mazibuko said: “The two members — instead of abiding by the party’s decisions as loyal and disciplined members — chose to defect to the ANC, which clearly exposes them as spineless individuals whose political morals are questionable.”

He wished the three well in their “new political marriage”.

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