April 23, 2004

SOUTH AFRICA: ANC, IFP close to a coalition in Kwazulu-Natal

The African National Congress (ANC) and Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) have in principle agreed to form a coalition government in KwaZulu-Natal. The last-minute agreement means that KwaZulu-Natal premier-elect Sbusiso Ndebele will officially be sworn in as premier during the opening of the legislature. As ANC provincial leader Sipho Gcabashe said after the meeting, the two parties were close to an agreement. "The delegations of the two parties are hopeful that they are close to finding an agreement pending their report-back to their principals," he mentioned. The ANC has 38 seats in the KwaZulu-Natal legislature and the IFP 30. According to Gcabashe the talks were held in a "cordial" and "constructive" spirit.

The IFP is apparently pushing to get the position of speaker and a third of the provincial cabinet portfolios. Gcabashe said the ANC was clear that IFP leaders who were co-opted in the cabinet would not be allowed to push a party agenda. They would have to implement the ANC's programme. "We cannot continue to engage in political infighting. We must deliver to the people of the province," he said. "The ANC has won a majority of the votes. It must govern the province."

The IFP is also expected to drop its court challenge on the validity of election results in KwaZulu-Natal. The party has asked the Electoral Court to force the Independent Electoral Commission to investigate its 42 claims of irregularities. It also alleged that 367.000 people in the province voted outside their voting districts. The ANC has pushed the IFP to drop its court challenge in exchange for positions in the coalition government.

In the meantime, the newly elected President Thabo Mbeki was addressing Members of Parliament (MPs) in the National Assembly (NA) in Cape Town, shortly after being re-elected as President of the country for the second time in succession. Mbeki who will be sowrn in as President has already nominated the future Regional Premiers of South Africa’s nine provinces among whom are four women. This follows the African National Congress's (ANC) victory in the 2004 general elections last week, that saw multitudes voting for the political party that has now 279 seats out of 400 in the NA. For FINAL RESULTS see: Independent Electoral Commission (Business Day, Johannesburg)

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