SUNNY OPTIMISM: Zanele Magwaza-Msibi’s National Freedom Party’s launch in Durban. Picture: Phumlani Thabethe
Chris Makhaye and Thokozani Mtshali
As she she launched her own party in Durban yesterday, Zanele Magwaza-Msibi said she was finally free from persecution and IFP dictatorship.
The National Freedom Party (NFP) was unveiled as the former IFP chairperson accepted her “expulsion” from the party, after more than two years of marginalisation and ostracism.
The NFP was registered with the Independent Electoral Commission on December 13. Hundreds of Magwaza-Msibi’s supporters gathered in the Durban City Hall during the mid-morning rush.
Some also occupied the adjacent park as a large contingent of police kept watch. Several amakhosi, suspended leaders and councillors were there to show support for the new party.
“I never thought in my wildest dream that I would ever stand in front of you and make this pronouncement about leaving the IFP, the party that I have dedicated my entire life to serve,” said Magwaza-Msibi. She added that the IFP had done everything to vilify and spread lies about her.
“I have tried everything humanly possible to appeal to the party to have one-on-one meetings to resolve this impasse, but in vain,” she said. “My decision to go to the Pietermaritzburg High Court was my final bid to prevent what’s finally become a reality I have to accept.
“I accept that the leadership of the IFP has had enough of me and therefore has dismissed me constructively.” Magwaza-Msibi said the NFP would welcome any South Africans who had no political home.
She had canvassed many of the new party leaders, including some who were recently fired from their positions in IFP-led municipalities for giving her early support.
The NFP will be officially launched in Durban on February 12. Magwaza-Msibi downplayed questions that the party was not formed as a result of ideological differences within the IFP, but as because of a failed contest for leadership within the party.
She said the party’s leadership was still to sit down and craft policies which the organisation’s inaugural conference would then ratify.
“The NFP comes at the time when our country faces serious challenges of unemployment, poverty, health, HIV-Aids prevalence, education and skills training, youth and women empowerment,” Magwaza-Msibi said. “As we walk this path, our policy conference will speak to all these challenges.”
The crowd swelled the impromptu rally held opposite the city hall. Many had taken buses from the hinterland of the province.
Fikile Dlamini of Newcastle said she had been a long-standing member of the IFP, but was now throwing her weight behind the new party. “We wanted change but the leadership of the IFP did not want democracy.
“This woman – Magwaza-Msibi – is very strong and we think she will fight for us and our voices will be heard.”
Musa Shabangu, a councillor and speaker of the Dumbe Municipality, said he felt he had to be at the launch of the new party. “As a senior member of the IFP I felt very sad when the party prevented the conference from taking place,” he said, in reference to the IFP’s oft-postponed conference.