CHOICE:  National Freedom Party supporters may be asked to vote for a compromise if the party is not allowed to contest. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES
CHOICE: National Freedom Party supporters. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES

THE National Freedom Party (NFP) imploded on Tuesday afternoon when two of the party’s MPs were suspended but immediately rejected their suspension.

The NFP issued a statement on Tuesday that it had served suspension letters to its former national chairman Maliyakhe Shelembe and Sicelo Mabika after the two had allegedly refused to co-operate with forensic investigators. The two are among the NFP’s six MPs in the National Assembly.

The NFP instituted an investigation into the pair after they were accused of financial mismanagement and of involvement in the scandal that saw the NFP missing a crucial payment deadline to the Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) ahead of the August 3 municipal elections.

As a result, the IEC disqualified the party from contesting the polls.

NFP acting national secretary Phumlane Zwane told journalists that the party had come to the painful but necessary decision to suspend the two after they had failed to co-operate with forensic investigators. Shelembe and Mabika had also ordered their subordinates in the party not to co-operate with investigators, Zwane said.

Zwane said the letters of suspension were sent to the two on Tuesday morning. "We have also written to National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete, informing her of the suspension. The two will be on full pay until their matter has been dealt by the disciplinary committee of the party.

The two should not communicate with the staff, conduct their parliamentary duties, they must not prevent the staff from communicating with the investigators or provide any information, he said.

Speaking on behalf of the two, Mabika rejected their suspension, saying they will challenge it in court because it was done by a faction that was "hell-bent on destroying the party by attacking its hardworking deployees".

"As far as we are concerned we are still NFP MPs. We cannot be suspended by people who have no standing in the party. These people have appointed themselves to position without consulting members or leaders. They are suspending us so that they will be able to get MP jobs for themselves or their cronies. We will not allow that to happen," he said.

Mabika said they have already consulted their lawyers and would soon file court papers. "We would challenge the so-called decisions of the national working committee (NWC) two months ago which suspended myself, Shelembe, (suspended treasurer) Xolani Ndlovu, and (former secretary general) Nhlanhla Khubisa. According to the NFP’s constitution, it is the national chairperson who calls a meeting of the NWC. At that time Shelembe was the national chairman and he did not authorise that meeting. We would test all these reckless decisions in court," he said.

Sifiso Kunene, a KwaZulu-Natal-based political analyst, said this was the final implosion of the NFP as a going political party.

"After the election debacle it was expected that leaders would turn on each other as they tried to find the solution to the problems facing the party. Now the threats and counter-threats are flying thick and fast. Already the party was facing a bleak future after it didn’t participate in the local government elections because it lost many council seats. The NFP is a shadow of its former self now, as factions within the party are tearing at each other," said Kunene.