The leadership of the National Freedom Party has called on its members to vote for the ANC in tomorrow’s local government elections following the party’s final disqualification from participating in the poll by the Electoral Court on Friday.
This morning, following an all-night meeting with the ANC KwaZulu-Natal leadership in Durban, the NFP leadership joined the governing party at a press briefing in the city at which the decision was made public.
The NFP’s national working committee and leadership from KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng and Mpumalanga are understood to have backed the move, but its structures at Nongoma and eDumbe (Paulpietersberg) have indicated their intention to back the Democratic Alliance in tomorrow’s poll.
The party’s structures at Vryheid and in other small towns have, in the past, voted with the IFP in defiance of the national leadership and they are expected to back the IFP now that their own candidates cannot stand.
The decision will be felt most in the 19 municipalities co-governed by the ANC and the NFP, which was formed in 2011 by former IFP national chairperson Zanele Magwaza-Msibi and her supporters who broke away from the IFP. The creation of the NFP broke the IFP’s hold on many of the councils.
The NFP had been gearing up to stand alone, with its relationship with the ANC generally in tatters because local-level leaders had been more comfortable working with the IFP in the small towns, but was disqualified from fielding candidates because it missed the deadline for payment of registration fees.
The party went to the Electoral Court, claiming the situation had been manipulated by the IFP, but failed in its appeal against the initial IEC decision.
Addressing the briefing, ANC provincial secretary Super Zuma said he believed the decision would have a “far-reaching impact on the political landscape in KwaZulu-Natal”.
“The ANC have been supportive of the NFP’s bid to pursue all legal avenues in order to be able to participate in these local government elections. However, the NFP has now come to the conclusion that they have a key and dependable ally in the ANC, with whom they share a common vision about the direction of this province and country,” Zuma said.
While the NFP would remain a “separate and distinct” party, it called on its members to vote for the ANC so that they could still be given an opportunity to vote.
He said the leadership of the two parties would accompany each other to voting stations, while the parties would pool party agents tomorrow.
NFP member of the provincial legislature Happy Khuzwayo said the NFP leadership had consulted widely before making the decision to back the ANC.
Khuzwayo said the agreement reached with the ANC was about elections only and that the relationship post poll day would still have to be hammered out.
“We will sit and look at the results and analyse the municipalities,’’ she said.