NFP teeters on edge

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NFP members in Mkhambathini this weekend. The party held a regional elective conference to elect leaders from Umgungundlovu district.
NFP members in Mkhambathini this weekend. The party held a regional elective conference to elect leaders from Umgungundlovu district.
Thamsanqa Magubane, The Witness

Pietermaritzburg - Threats made by fellow party members have forced the NFP to cancel its general provincial conference which was scheduled to start in Newcastle on Friday.

The conference had initially been planned as a consultative conference. However, The Witness was told that some in the organisation had pushed for an elective conference.

Amid growing turmoil in the party’s structures, acting provincial secretary Danger Sibiya said they had decided to cancel the conference due to safety concerns.

Sibiya said he could not comment further on the threats as he said it was an internal matter.

He said the decision was also taken to ensure unity within the party before the upcoming 2016 local government elections.

“For us it was important that we keep what we have before the elections. We are going to focus on electioneering,” he said.

Sibiya said the provincial executive committee will decide “when the time is right to hold the conference”.

Internal squabbles

The party has been rocked by internal squabbles since November last year when its founder and leader Zanele Magwaza-Msibi went on sick leave.

Magwaza-Msibi had suffered a stroke in her Newcastle home.

Since then senior party leaders have been expelled amid allegations of a plot to dethrone the ill Magwaza-Msibi.

In September this year, the national working committee expelled high-ranking officials, including national chairperson Maliyakhe Shelembe and the party secretary-general Professor Nhlanhla Khubisa.

Several councillors in the party have also defied direct orders from the NFP’s national office as they colluded with the IFP to the detriment of the ANC in various municipalities.

The party had entered a coalition agreement with the ANC after 2011 local government elections.

Many of the expulsions were overturned in court.

Political analyst Protas Madlala has said things are “upside down” in the party.

“The fact that the party could not hold its conference due to internal conflicts shows that the party is in tatters indeed,” he said.

Leadership

Madlala said it is obvious that the party is missing the leadership of Magwaza-Msibi.

“At the moment there is nobody in charge and everyone is doing as they please. Obviously the party is centred around her,” he said.

Madlala said it is “obvious that the NFP’s support will drop” in next year’s local government elections.

The party has already lost many by-elections.

There is still no indication as to when the 53-year-old Magwaza-Msibi will fully resume her duties.

Sibiya said they are still waiting on doctors to determine her fitness before she can resume office.

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