Buthelezi ponders his retirement

2011-08-08 00:00

INKATHA Freedom Party leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi has indicated he may be asked to retire from leading the party, now that the IFP’s internal ructions are over following the formation of the National Freedom Party earlier this year.

Buthelezi gave this hint during his keynote address at the IFP-aligned South African Democratic Students’ Movement (Sadesmo) elective conference held at Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) at uMlazi on Saturday.

The IFP is going to hold an elective conference from October 14-16, after a delay that has lasted more than two years.

During the last IFP elective conference in 2005 Buthelezi offered not to stand for re-election, but in October 2009 the national council of the party persuaded him to remain in power following the eruption of a power struggle between supporters of former national chairperson Zanele Magwaza-Msibi and secretary-general Musa Zondi over who should take over.

Those squabbles eventually led to the establishment of the NFP by Magwaza-Msibi and her supporters, dealing the IFP a heavy political blow.

Out of 34 municipalities under its control before the May 18 local government elections, the IFP was left with only two municipalities under its control after the poll.

Buthelezi said during the keynote address, “The ructions created by the ‘Friends of VZ’ and the treachery of our former national chairperson made it impossible for me to step away from leadership, for I could not abandon our party to disorder and division. Now that the NFP has been formed and the local government elections are over, some commentators think it is time I leave.”

However, Buthelezi said, the continued interference from the ANC “which seeks to undermine and destroy IFP”, leaves him in a quandary: “I have a great dilemma as to what to do. Should I run away or rather be destroyed with the IFP? I pray that God finally guides me …”

He added: “I would welcome an opportunity to do so as long as the party is not wrecked by the interference from the ANC.”

At 83 Buthelezi had been leading the IFP since its establishment in 1975.

“Our detractors like to pretend that I am somehow clinging to power as though I have anything to gain at this stage in my life from titles or positions.

“This lie that I refuse to leave is painful to hear, for I have remained at the behest of my party and have sacrificed the reward of rest that people my age have earned.”

NFP spokesperson Zanele Cele said the formation of the NFP should have nothing to do with Buthelezi’s decision to retire.

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