The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) in Gauteng says it has grown weary of the DA’s big brother attitude, and particularly that of the party’s Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba, who they say is “running amok” and can only be checked by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF).
The coalition, which governs the City of Johannesburg, now hangs in the balance after Mashaba dismissed the IFP’s housing MMC, Mzobanzi Ntuli, on Monday.
IFP Gauteng chairperson Bonginkosi Dlamini told City Press on Thursday that the party was considering its next move.
“Mashaba’s actions tell us that they don’t need the IFP any more,” he said. “The DA leadership is afraid of Mashaba. He does as he likes because he is able to change decisions made by his political leadership.
“The DA is scared of him. He thinks the City of Johannesburg is his own Black Like Me, and he runs it like that. Even his own caucus is not happy with his leadership, but he is useful in certain quarters.”
Following the 2016 local government elections, Johannesburg had no outright winner, forcing opposition parties to band together and form a coalition. The IFP was granted two departments: transport and housing.
The party was also to oversee three city entities, including Metrobus, the Johannesburg Roads Agency and the Johannesburg Social Housing Company.
This week, Mashaba said he had to let go of Ntuli because of slow progress in the crucial department.
Dlamini, however, claims that there have been tensions for some time between the two parties.
“It has not been easy. The DA has always wanted to outshine the IFP … We are not an extension of the DA, we are independent. We are partners in the policies and budget here, so the IFP policies and positions must find expression here, while at the same time respecting Mashaba’s power as mayor.”
Dlamini said that Mashaba’s rule by iron fist undermined smaller parties and sought to erase them completely from the space of governance.
“If you remember when Helen [Zille] was mayor of Cape Town in a coalition with seven parties, it was the same strategy then. They swallowed everybody and won the elections as the DA, without coalition partners. I think the DA in Johannesburg want to do the same. As the IFP, we are not going to agree to that. We are not surprised that there have been many attempts made by Mashaba and the DA to diminish the IFP role in the City of Johannesburg, particularly in these two departments.”
Mashaba’s spokesperson, Luyanda Mfeka, said Mashaba stood by his decision to remove Ntuli, arguing that he would not allow coalition agreements to “impede the performance of the City in providing quality housing opportunities to poor residents”.
“The mayor notes the IFP’s views. He holds a different view. Service failures, administrative or otherwise, are ultimately the responsibility of leadership heading the relevant portfolios.”
However, the IFP is adamant that the housing department was being “sabotaged” by the recently removed executive director, Moses Mtileni, whom the party had repeatedly sought to remove.
“The position of executive director was advertised,” said Dlamini. “People were short-listed and the process was clean and fair. But Mashaba insisted on a person who came out number four on the list, who is useless and has been sabotaging MMC Ntuli.
“We have raised these issues a number of times. There were challenges and we agree with Mashaba on that, but Ntuli’s turnaround strategy was compromised by Mashaba’s useless executive director. Mashaba wants to control everything. He was not happy with the IFP putting its foot down and being independent; he wanted to control us too.”
Dlamini further claimed that Mashaba prevented IFP-run entities from changing their boards at the instruction of the EFF.
“He refused flatly and told us that it is the EFF that doesn’t want to change boards.
“The EFF has never said anything, but that is what he said. The EFF told the world that they are just voting and don’t want to be involved in any decision making or have any positions. So, why are they involved now?”