IFP-DA trade political blows with just two weeks to elections

IFP chairperson in KwaZulu-Natal Thami Ntuli and his DA’s counterpart Dean Macpherson holding their governance pact which they signed in July last year.Bongani Mbatha: African News Agency /ANA

IFP chairperson in KwaZulu-Natal Thami Ntuli and his DA’s counterpart Dean Macpherson holding their governance pact which they signed in July last year.Bongani Mbatha: African News Agency /ANA

Published May 14, 2024


Durban — With just two weeks before the crucial general elections, the DA and IFP who are members of the Multi-Party Charter group, have publicly traded political blows which could strain their relationship.

The parties have agreed to form a coalition in KwaZulu-Natal after the elections and are working together in many municipalities, including uMhlathuze where the DA holds a deputy mayor’ position.

The fight was apparently sparked by the DA councillor Swelakhe Shelembe’s refusal to support a proposal by the IFP-led Zululand District Municipality to write-off about R300 million in unauthorised expenditure. The meeting which was to approve the write-off collapsed after the ANC, EFF and NFP boycotted it on Monday leaving only IFP councillors, with no quorum. Shelembe too confirmed to the Daily News that he was not going to vote for the write-off because he wanted an explanation on where the money was spent.

The DA/IFP fracas comes amid accusations by the ANC in Zululand that the DA was benefiting from corruption in Zululand and using the IFP as its puppet. The ANC said the DA had agreed with the write-off which prompted the DA’s sharp response accusing the ANC of lies.

In a statement, Shelembe on Monday accused the ANC of lacking an understanding of local government processes which he said was not surprising given the state of ANC-run municipalities.

Shelembe, who is the Municipal Public Accounts Committee chairperson in Zululand District Municipality, demanded that the ANC bring proof of the meeting where the DA purportedly supported the write-off.

“The desperate and morally bankrupt ANC claimed that the DA chaired a meeting of the Zululand District Municipal Public Accounts Committee (MPAC) to approve write-offs proposed by the IFP-led municipality. The claimed “meeting", firstly, never took place and, secondly, the DA has made it clear to Zululand Mayor, Thulasizwe Buthelezi, that we will not agree to or approve these proposals.The ANC should produce evidence that such a meeting took place or withdraw its unfounded and baseless claims,” said Shelembe.

He added that It was worth noting that it was the ANC, particularly in municipalities like eThekwini, that had a track record of approving exorbitant write-offs, as evidenced by the staggering R727 million in irregular expenditure last year alone. Similarly, in Msunduzi, the ANC's disregard for proper procedures led to a questionable allocation of R27 million to the Royal AM Football Club, sparking legal action led by the DA against both the ANC and the municipality.

In its response, the Zululand Municipality hit back at both the DA and the ANC, saying it was yet another desperate and last-ditch ANC attempt to tarnish the image of the municipality, relying on an unofficial and unverified internal audit report that had no status within Council. The ANC had made the accusation without a shred of evidence, the municipality said.

The municipality accused Shelembe of working with the ANC, saying the ANC had been aided and abetted by him. The municipality further reminded Shelembe and the DA that the seat the party was occupying in the council belonged to the IFP since the DA party had no seat in the council.

“Shelembe of the DA is notorious for his unscrupulous behaviour of defrauding the Abaqulusi and Zululand municipalities for security guards allocated to him. In this regard, ZDM has in its possession damning evidence which has the potential for further action that may result in devastating consequences for Cllr Shelembe's political career. We call upon Cllr Shelembe not to allow himself to be used a useful idiot of the ANC in KZN, otherwise he will fall between two stools while trying to hunt with the hounds while running with the hares,” read the municipal statement.

On the allegations against him, Shelembe said he was surprised that the municipality had evidence of corruption against him, and questioned what processes were followed in obtaining that information since no one had informed him about it.

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