Splinter party emerges from NFP infighting

Zanele kaMagwaza-Msibi. Picture: Daily Sun
Zanele kaMagwaza-Msibi. Picture: Daily Sun

The National Freedom Party (NFP) is in crisis as infighting has become the order of the day since its leader Zanele kaMagwaza-Msibi suffered a stroke in 2014.

Now a splinter party has emerged out of the conflict.

City Press has learnt that the difficulties were caused by two opposing factions, one of which planned to dethrone kaMagwaza-Msibi by electing a new leader last December.

However, it fell short because of the party’s constitution which states that she has to serve a minimum of two terms as president.

According to the NFP’s parliamentary leader, Munzoor Shaik-Emam, both factions had planned to hold elective conferences this past December, but only one continued and it was forced to retain kaMagwaza-Msibi. 

This led to KwaZulu-Natal business tycoon, a former ANC member and a staunch Jacob Zuma supporter, Philani “PG” Mavundla, veering off to start his own party called the Abantu Batho Congress (ABC).

A source within the party said Mavundla was upset and felt sidelined when he found out about the party conference.

The former mayor of Umvoti Municipality told City Press that it was only a matter of time until the party would be registered with the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).

“We have submitted our application and I think it will appear in the [Government] Gazette this weekend.

“Then we have to wait to see if there are any objections. After that we can put in the application to the IEC.

“We are not worried about it [the process] because it is just a matter of the names if someone has a query,” Mavundla said.

Although he claimed to have left the party with no bad blood, he said the ABC would be “taking a chunk of the NFP”.

“I was part and parcel of the team that was trying to mediate between the two factions within the NFP.

And the team also examined how much is owed by the NFP.

It was apparent that, come 2021, it will be difficult for the NFP to contest the elections,” said Mavundla.

But Shaik-Emam watered down the allegations, saying that all political parties had debt.

“It is very unfortunate when people say they are leaving because the party is in debt and, let me tell you from a political perspective, if any political party does not have debt, then one has to question how it is functioning,” said Shaik-Emam.

He did, however, confirm that the NFP had still not paid service providers who had worked with the party during the 2019 general elections.

But, he said, these businesses had confidence that the NFP would “eventually” pay them.

“We do not have the resources to pay these people, but it is something we can overcome,” Shaik Emam said. 

The ABC was officially launched on Wednesday.

The party will focus on land restitution, education, industrialisation and infrastructure development, the marine economy and the maritime industry, the rights of children, and equitable redress, among other issues.

 The ABC plans to contest the by-election in March when Mavundla hopes to win ward 7, an area he led as a councillor under the NFP.

“We will contest our first by-election. If we win this ward, it will be a second  hiding for the ruling party, with one man standing twice and winning in the ANC stronghold,” Mavundla said.

Shaik-Emam acknowledged the possibility of Mavundla taking the ward from the NFP, citing his popularity in the community.

He said: “PG Mavundla has been mayor for a long time. He is well known there; he has a lot of properties there and he has done a lot of work there. I do not have any doubt that he will win the ward again."

Many NFP members had lost confidence in the party, resulting in membership numbers dwindling in the past years.

The NFP results in its stronghold of Zululand showed a big drop from 89 000 to 25 000 votes, which Shaik-Emam attributed to kaMagwaza-Msibi’s ill health.

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