National Freedom Party (NFP) KwaZulu-Natal chairperson, Vikizitha Mlotshwa has won a temporary interdict against the party’s decision to prevent his swearing in as the party’s Member of the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature. The NFP, including its leader Zanele Magwaza-Msibi, have been ordered to pay legal costs for the urgent interdict.

Things came to a head on Wednesday, after the NFP wrote to the legislature asking presiding officers not to let Mlotshwa take an oath of office as a its member. The NFP national structure says it has expelled Mlotshwa. NFP spokesperson, Simo Mkhwanazi, says the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) had taken the decision after it carefully studied its performance in the elections. Mkhwanazi says Mlotshwa was informed about the decision, however he chose to ignore it.

“Yes we did send the letter to the Legislature, they took a resolution to actually revisit the list and decide either they would take the list as it is to the Legislature or there would be any changes and eventually they decided that Mr. Vikizitha Mlotshwa must be withdrawn from the list and he was informed. He persisted to actually accept and declared his availability, which was then against the resolution which the party took when the NEC sat. After the NEC saw that he was not complying with what they have resolved – they decided to say he must be expelled from the organisation,” says Mkhwanazi.

Mlotshwa hit back and took the party to court and won an interim interdict. KwaZulu-Natal NFP Secretary, Zandile Myeni, says the Pietermaritzburg High Court has granted a court order preventing the Legislature from swearing in Mlotshwa’s replacement. Myeni says they will deal with their internal squabbles.

“We went to court, Pietermaritzburg High Court and we were granted an order that stipulates that the letter is not an official letter so it means it was just an internal issue of which we will deal with it when the time is right. I can also say to the members of the NFP in KZN, honourable Mlotshwa will indeed be sworn in as a Member of Parliament in due course,” says Myeni.

Political solutions needed for political tussles

Political analyst, Lukhona Mnguni, says it is never wise for a political party to take its internal matters to court.

“It’s never the best way to resolve political matters in the court of law. For any political party, worse for a party that is as fragile as the NFP that has just nearly scrapped through to have public representative in KZN and in the National Assembly. Definitely not the right thing to do, but this is sort of the calm inherent in the NFP that soon after elections there are always disputes who should be the rightful representatives where and they fight. I mean going back to 2011 to 2014 we always had these hassles that were married to internal leadership battles within the party and I think that demonstrates that the party had failed to stabilise.”

Mnguni says the NFP needs to consider changing its national leader if it wants to survive.

“The NFP needs to consider its position of the leader if the party is to have a survival charge. Unless the party and the leader are resigned to the death of the party and they are okay with it, I do not see how the NFP will thrive with Zanele kaMagwaza-Msibi continuing in its leadership because she is not fit enough to lead that party and it is unfortunate because its due to ill health. But I think she should make that recognition give space, remain a member of Parliament but give space for other people to run the party.”

The party secured only one seat in the KwaZulu-Natal legislature and two seats in the National Assembly. It’s legal battle to prevent Mlotshwa from assuming the only seat its won in its traditional home base – will play out in the Pietermaritzburg High Court on the 8th of July.