Mavundla deal was clinched way before Zuma made the call: KZN ANC

Zikalala says provincial leaders ditched IFP for Mavundla because of long-standing agreement with Zuma’s friend

25 November 2021 - 15:04 By ZIMASA MATIWANE
KwaZulu-Natal ANC chair Sihle Zikalala, left, and secretary Mdumiseni Ntuli.
KwaZulu-Natal ANC chair Sihle Zikalala, left, and secretary Mdumiseni Ntuli.
Image: Sandile Ndlovu

The ANC in KwaZulu-Natal ditched the coalition agreement Luthuli House reached with the IFP because provincial leaders had a long-standing agreement with Abantu Batho Congress leader Philani Mavundla.

The IFP announced last week it had clinched a deal with the ANC.

On Thursday, ANC provincial chairman Sihle Zikalala told Sunday Times Daily that after Monday's botched eThekwini council meeting, he and other provincial leaders met Mavundla at a casino in Pietermaritzburg. 

“After the council failed to conclude its business on Monday we called him and met in  Pietermaritzburg at the Golden Horse. We resuscitated [the initial agreement with Mavundla].”

Observers were shocked this week when the IFP formed coalition governments with other parties despite having announced it had reached a deal with the ANC.

Unfortunately, in the early hours of Monday morning the ANC came back to us saying that there could not be an agreement on shared governance.
IFP leader Velenkosini Hlabisa

Last week, IFP leader Velenkosini Hlabisa said the terms of the agreement with the ANC were that “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.”

But Zikalala said provincial ANC leaders had other plans from the outset.

“From the beginning, the ANC provincial leaders were engaging Mavundla. There was an agreement to work together. However, the directive from national disrupted those plans,” Zikalala said. 

At Monday’s collapsed council sitting, the IFP changed its mind and left the ANC in the lurch. 

Explaining the decision, Hlabisa said: “The IFP’s negotiating team approached them [ANC]  once more to secure finality, but was compelled to report to our national executive committee ... that our call for shared governance arrangements in these municipalities had not yet been answered.

“Unfortunately, in the early hours of Monday morning the ANC came back to us saying that there could not be an agreement on shared governance.”

This led to the IFP abstaining from voting for eThekwini’s leadership, which led to the collapse of the meeting.

ANC leaders tried to lobby smaller parties to no avail, but Mavundla was eventually convinced by Zikalala and provincial secretary Mdumiseni Ntuli. 

Media reports suggested that former president Jacob Zuma and ex-health minister Zweli Mkhize were involved in roping in Mavundla to back the ANC. 

Zikalala confirmed Zuma’s involvement, but said he and Ntuli led the negotiations.

“I do believe Nxamalala [Zuma] called him because they know each other. Mavundla even told me that, but it was after we had already spoken and had an agreement – the process was led by myself and [Ntuli].”

Asked if other senior leaders in the province also intervened, Zikalala said: “It is possible other people did make calls, but the process was led organisationally. It was a collective effort. We were working on this with the secretary."  

In the municipal elections, the ANC in eThekwini obtained 42.2% of the vote, giving it 96  of the 222 seats. On Wednesday, the ANC’s Mxolisi Kaunda was elected mayor with the support of Mavundla’s ABC and other minority parties. Mavundla was elected deputy mayor.


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