NFP leaders explain their decision to withdraw resignations

2016-07-05 07:48
NFP SG Professor Nhlanhla Khubisa and national chairperson Maliyakhe Shelembe (Amanda Khoza, News24)

Durban – Two National Freedom Party leaders who resigned from the party after it lost its case in the Electoral Court have explained their reasons behind their surprise move to withdraw their resignations.

Secretary general Professor Nhlanhla Khubisa, national chairperson Maliyakhe Shelembe, treasurer Xolani Ndlovu and deputy national chairperson Sicelo Mabika, were suspended at the weekend after they allegedly failed to pay the Independent Electoral Commission of South Africa's (IEC) registration fee by the June 2 deadline. 

Ndlovu apparently sent the IEC a cheque, which bounced. He allegedly paid the money after the deadline. The party lost its case in the Electoral Court on Saturday and was informed that it would not be allowed to contest the 2016 local government elections.

Withdrew his resignation

The party had challenged the IEC's decision to disqualify it after it failed to pay its registration fee by the deadline.

Khubisa and Shelembe resigned voluntarily at the weekend after the party held a special national working committee (NWC) meeting on Saturday. Both leaders have changed their minds and have submitted letters withdrawing their resignations.

Khubisa, who resigned on Saturday and then withdrew his resignation, said he was flabbergasted when he heard about a NWC meeting on Saturday.

He said the meeting had been unconstitutional because to convene a NWC or a NEC meeting, the president or the deputy president needed to consult the chairperson.

"I was surprised and flabbergasted that a meeting was convened in that manner...we were informed through hearsay that there was a meeting and someone called me to inform me that there wasn't a quorum [minimum number of members present at a meeting to make it valid]."

He said at the time he thought about the challenges faced by the party.

"This was the time when we needed the party to gel.  We had the Electoral Court process and we have the Constitutional Court coming, I looked at all these things and thought to myself, would it not be proper to go to the grass root level and try to mobilise the structures so that the party will be intact as it moved forward."

- Elections Map: Previous NFP results

He received phone calls advising him against the decision.

"I got calls from Zanele kaMagwaza-Msibi saying rethink because I was needed in the party, especially at this time and I said to myself that it was proper and prudent that I listen to the comrades and I withdrew my resignation."

He said in hindsight he questioned whether things were done correctly.

"What is of paramount important to me is to ensure that as a party we gel, consolidate and move forward. There is still a process under way. We said that if the Electoral Court does not favour us, we will take the matter further to the Constitutional Court."

Khubisa said the party would approach the Constitutional Court on Monday afternoon.

Stand up

Shelembe, who resigned as the national chairperson on Saturday, said his heart ached over what was happening because he loved the NFP and had contributed a lot to the party since its formation.

He said he could not even tell his wife that he had resigned and that she only heard after he had sent his letter of resignation. "She was scared and disappointed."

He said while in the IFP, back in 2010, he was the one who told the leadership that the lies fabricated against the then chairperson, Zanele kaMagwaza-Msibi, were not good.

"All the lies that were fabricated against her, I had to stand up and say I will die for the president Zanele kaMagwaza-Msibi. In 2014, people started fabricating lies about me after I took up the national chairperson."

He said some members were celebrating that he had resigned.

"I was disturbed to hear that the meeting was called by the NWC. I felt irritated that people can just regroup and claim that they are forming a legitimate meeting."

Shelembe said he was told that the meeting was called because kaMagwaza-Msibi intended to suspend him and other colleagues who were involved in the IEC blunder.

He said people who were regrouping themselves and leading the campaign, which was now starting to destroy the party, did not realise that the NEC and NWC must respect the party’s constitution.

"It is clear that there are those people who are now the agents of the president in the organisation, they will come out and say the president said this and said that.

"What is important in the organisation is to sustain what you have and gain more support. The more you enjoy taking hasty decisions that are based on emotions, the more it affects the organisation."

He said the party was experiencing challenges.

"It is not good at this time to fight over a shaky bridge, it is better to cross the bridge and then start our fight internally after..."

Shelembe said the party could grow if there were no boundaries between the NEC and the president.

"The wrong things that have been done, let's correct them, we need to put our differences aside and unite and promote peace and stability in the party."

One of the NWC members that convinced the pair to return to the party said the NFP was not a tuck shop.

Layidliva Mbuthuma said, "If it was a tuck shop then you can appoint your own cashier and manager. But this is an organisation. There must be a conference where we can elect people we want, at this stage we still have these leaders and we are happy."

- Find everything you need to know about the 2016 Local Government Elections at our News24 Elections site, including the latest news and detailed, interactive maps for how South Africa has voted over the past 3 elections, or download the app for iOS and Android.

Read more on: nfp  |  durban  |  local elections 2016