ANC on verge of governing eThekwini after IFP agreement

Deal relegates EFF when many had predicted a marriage between the red berets and ANC

17 November 2021 - 18:00
IFP president Velenkosini Hlabisa. Hlabisa announced on Wednesday his party had agreed to help the ANC take power where it was needed. File image.
IFP president Velenkosini Hlabisa. Hlabisa announced on Wednesday his party had agreed to help the ANC take power where it was needed. File image.
Image: Sandile Ndlovu

The ANC appears set to govern eThekwini after an agreement reached with the IFP.

IFP president Velenkosi Hlabisa announced on Wednesday his party had agreed to help the ANC take power where it was needed. On the other hand, where the IFP had a higher percentage than the ANC but not an outright majority, the two would team up to give the IFP rule.

In eThekwini, the agreement means the ANC (96 seats) and the IFP (16 seats) have a combined 112 city councillors out of 220, one more than the 111 needed to govern.

The two parties will also likely co-opt one or two other smaller parties — possibly ActionSA, the ACDP or the AIC — to establish a comfortable majority and strengthen their hold in the city.

“We will support the principle of the two largest parties becoming government and official opposition respectively. Accordingly, where the IFP governs, the ANC will become the official opposition and vice versa,” Hlabisa said.

The agreement seems to be a sharp U-turn from a recent stance the IFP had taken not to work with the ANC. But Hlabisa said nothing has changed, because the IFP and ANC would “remain opponents, but opponents who have agreed to operate on the same principle for the sake of securing stability in local government and offering our people service delivery.

“It goes without saying that this is not a coalition, because a coalition places both parties in power-sharing positions. But what we are doing is allowing the party with the most votes to govern, while the other party is relegated to the opposition,” he said.

The agreement between the IFP and the ANC comes after the collapse of negotiations between the ANC and the EFF, which some had touted as a possible partnership to run eThekwini.

It also effectively nullifies EFF growth in eThekwini, where it got 10.48% of the vote, despite noise by Julius Malema at a press briefing on Tuesday.

With EFF buy-in alone, the ANC would have secured comfortable control of the city. 

At the EFF briefing, Malema, after announcing that his party had decided to drop all negotiations with the ANC, ridiculed the ANC's dip below 50% in eThekwini while boasting about the EFF's growth above the IFP.

“Year after year, KwaZulu-Natal makes us so proud. Who would have thought eThekwini will go from under the control of the ANC?” said Malema.

“The whole of KwaZulu-Natal is gone, done. The ANC will not get in because of the EFF — it must go and connive with Afrikaners to take. Otherwise we are not part of that — the [coalition negotiations] door is closed. We are not taking any calls [from the ANC], we are not taking any meeting. It is done, it's closed.”

The EFF is not the only party dealt a blow by the ANC and IFP agreement. The DA had hoped to displace the ANC as it did in many metros after the 2016 municipal elections.

It would, however, be a mountain to climb for the DA to form a coalition government in eThekwini, as it would have had to convince at least 10 other parties, including the EFF and IFP, to achieve an outright majority. 

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