The Hon. Mr Narend Singh MP
Chief Whip Of The Inkatha Freedom Party
M24, Marks Building, Parliament
Looking back over the first 100 days of cooperation agreements at municipal level, I am convinced that the IFP did the right thing, for the right reasons.
On August 3rd support for the IFP doubled in the Local Government Election. We were restored as the biggest opposition to the ANC in KwaZulu Natal.
The IFP won six municipalities with a clear majority. But six more were hung, and those municipalities could not function unless two or more parties worked together. The IFP had to carefully weigh the interests of local government and the expressed wishes of the electorate.
Our overriding concern was to secure good governance, service delivery and an end to corruption. We sought the best political formula to achieve this in every municipality.
The problem of hung municipalities emerged in Gauteng as well, which enabled us to design an agreement between the IFP, DA and EFF in Gauteng and KwaZulu Natal.
We did not form a coalition. Each party maintains its own identity. But our councillors were mandated to work together at local level, in various municipalities, through a cooperation agreement.
With the support of the DA and EFF, the IFP took the helm at an additional four municipalities in KwaZulu Natal; being Abaqulusi, Jozini, Mtubatuba and Endumeni.
These local municipalities were added to Zululand District, Ulundi, Nongoma, Nkandla, Big5/Hlabisa, Mtonjaneni and Msinga.
Understandably, the ANC panicked. They were unable to avert the cooperation agreement in all these municipalities; but not for want to trying. We had some real challenges on our hands. But where these arose, the IFP, DA and EFF met, and our leaders at local level ironed out the problems. Thus the principles on which we formed this cooperation agreement remained intact.
The IFP was poised to take Nqutu as well, through the cooperation agreement, which would also have given us Umzinyathi District. But there the ANC managed to throw a different spanner in the works. The MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs placed both municipalities under administration, claiming that they could not be constituted.
However, the impediments to the constituting of these municipalities no longer exist. So the only reason to keep them under administration, is to keep them in the ANC’s fold. The IFP is extremely concerned that the communities in Nqutu and in the whole district of Umzinyathi are being used as pawns in a game of political power.
With regards to our cooperation agreement in Johannesburg and Mogale City, we are pleased with the various successes it has produced. Our MMC in City of Johannesburg has initiated a programme of renewal of hostel management to fast-track the delivery of services in hostels. The housing backlog is being tackled and already a transparent housing list has been compiled. The IFP’s MMC has facilitated a forensic audit to investigate corruption in the allocation of housing in Freedom Park.
Most housing projects will be completed by March 2017. However, Fleurhof, Malibongwe Ridge and Kanana Park, which consist predominantly of RDP houses, will see residents moving in before Christmas. The Mayor has tasked our MMC as political head of the inner city of Johannesburg and Region F, to deal with developmental issues such as urban renewal.
If I had to sum up the first 100 days, I would have to say “So far, so good.” We began with consultation on the appointment of office bearers and are now consulting on general service delivery programmes. The agreement is paying dividends for the people we serve, which fulfils our foundational principle.
I have been asked, however, what would happen if our parties were divided on a fundamental issue and could not find common ground. The IFP cannot deviate from its character and principles. We are democrats at heart. It would therefore be for the structures of the Party to decide the way forward.
But so long as opposition parties seek good governance, service delivery and integrity, we seem to be in harmony. So; so far, so good.