Mdumiseni Ntuli, right, Picture: THULI DLAMINI
Mdumiseni Ntuli, right, Picture: THULI DLAMINI

The DA’s Funzela Ngobeni is not a shoo-in for the Johannesburg mayoral position and the DA might find itself playing opposition politics again in the metro if plans between the ANC and the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) come to fruition.

The KwaZulu-Natal provincial ANC has weighed into talks between the party’s mother body and its arch rival the IFP as they plot to oust the DA-led coalition in the Joburg metro.

ANC provincial secretary Mdumiseni Ntuli confirmed to Business Day that the ANC was dangling several mayoral and other posts to the IFP in municipalities located in its KZN heartlands.

The Joburg metro is up for grabs soon after the departure of mayor Herman Mashaba. The metro will have to elect a new mayor after the November 27 departure. The DA hopes the coalition will stay intact so Ngobeni can ensure continuity of the programmes started by the Mashaba administration.

After the 2016 election the DA convinced six other parties to form a coalition government which has been in power for more than three years. 

The ANC is banking on the IFP and the African Independent Congress (AIC) and other smaller parties to form a coalition.

In essence, both the ANC and the IFP do not have the numbers to take over the Johannesburg municipality as the DA has 104, the ANC 121 and the EFF 30. The IFP took five seats, the AIC four, and the African Christian Democratic Party, Freedom Front Plus, Al Jama-ah, Congress of the People and the Patriotic Alliance each have one seat.

The ANC is banking on the political climate changing in the post-Mashaba era and the new DA leadership under interim leader John Steenhuizen and federal leader Helen Zille faces mounting political challenges with various parties reconsidering their options.

A great deal will depend on the position of the EFF. The party, which had a close working relationship with Mashaba, maintains that it will abstain from voting for his replacement, citing the DA’s failure to allow the EFF to take key positions in various trade-offs.

According to sources, if the ANC succeeds in getting the Joburg metro, the ANC in KZN said the party would allow IFP mayors to remain in charge in Abaqulusi, Jozini and Zululand District municipalities, despite the ANC holding slim majorities in them. The ANC has taken the IFP to court on these municipalities, saying the party has illegally refused to relinquish power.

The deal, according to the ANC in KZN, would result in the court cases being withdrawn and the IFP continuing to  lead them.

These municipalities are dear to the IFP and one, the Zululand District Municipality, is headquartered in Ulundi — valued by many IFP leaders, including its founder Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi.

The ANC in KwaZulu-Natal said it is ready to make necesary concessions. Ntuli said his province was ready to play ball with the IFP.

“As the ANC in KZN we are ready to do whatever is necessary (to accommodate the IFP).  The IFP is not by its nature a right-wing party. The DA is at the centre of the right-wing politics. The ANC and the IFP serve the very same constituency and therefore we should be able to work together to serve our people,” Ntuli said.

 Bheki Mngomezulu, an independent political analyst based at the University of the Western Cape, said if the ANC-IFP deal succeeds, it would be an unravelling and the diminishing of the influence of the DA.

“In my view a deal between the ANC and the IFP will be a sensible political move for both parties because it will put the ANC on pole position in Johannesburg, an economic powerhouse, while also allowing the IFP to take charge in municipalities in KZN.

Correction: November 22 2019

An earlier version of this article said the ANC held 104 seats and the DA 121 seats in the Joburg metro. The ANC in fact has 121 and the DA 104.