Congress of the People leader Mosiuoa Lekota. Picture: SOWETAN
Congress of the People leader Mosiuoa Lekota. Picture: SOWETAN

THE Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) has distanced itself from the new Collective for Democracy, an alliance of five opposition parties formed on Tuesday to take on the ruling African National Congress (ANC) in next year’s poll.

The alliance has been reported to consist of the African Christian Democratic Party, the Congress of the People (COPE), the Freedom Front Plus, the IFP and the United Christian Democratic Party, with COPE leader Mosiuoa Lekota as its founding chairman.

"The political dynamics have now changed as the diversity of South Africa is now represented effectively in our Collective for Democracy," Mr Lekota said this week.

"We now have an opportunity to bring voters the hope of actual political change instead of giving up on alternatives because the ruling party has cynically manoeuvred its way into all sectors of our society, entrenching its power and corruption."

He said the five parties had agreed to fight next year’s general elections under one banner.

But barely a day later, the IFP said it was shocked to learn it had been folded into the collective.

"The leadership of the IFP was shocked to learn this morning, from the media, that the IFP has entered into a formal coalition to contest the upcoming 2014 national and provincial election," the party’s secretary-general, Sibongile Nkomo, said in a statement on Wednesday.

"The IFP has not given its blessing for a new party to be formed, nor have we agreed to be a part of a formal opposition coalition to contest the 2014 elections," she said.

Ms Nkomo said her party was wary of forming alliances after its disastrous experience in 2004 when it entered the ill-fated Coalition for Change with the Democratic Alliance in KwaZulu-Natal.

That resulted in "more than 250,000 spoilt ballots (which) indicated the depth of confusion among grassroots supporters, who voted for both parties on the ballot paper", she said.

"This was to the IFP’s detriment," said Ms Nkomo, adding that it contributed to the party losing control of KwaZulu-Natal to the ANC.

Mr Lekota was not available for comment on Wednesday afternoon.