Buthelezi succession battle deepens

2009-08-19 00:00

A DEEPENING succession battle is being played out within the IFP, pitting leader Dr Mangosuthu Buthelezi against his national chairperson, Zanele Magwaza-Msibi.

However, party insiders believe that while there have been calls from the party’s youth brigade for Buthelezi to go, a more pressing concern is who will succeed him when he leaves. They claim the strife started shortly after Buthelezi indicated his intention to step down, which was when lobbying began within the youth brigade. One group is backing Magwaza-Msibi to succeed Buthelezi, while some prefer othe­r candidates.

Insiders believe this was why Buthelezi delayed announcing his retirement.

For the first time, on Monday, youth and women’s brigade members openly protested outside the party headquarters in Durban, calling for Buthelezi to go. A poster read: “Thank you, Shenge [Buthelezi], you have worked, but it’s Zanele’s time now”.

Magwaza-Msibi was quick to respond, calling a press briefing yesterday morning affirming her respect for Buthelezi, saying she considered him her father, mentor and leader. “I wish to distance myself from any suggestion that my president and I do not see eye to eye.”

She told the press briefing that recent media reports that she has been expelled from the party are a fabrication and a creation of people who do not wish the IFP well.

Some party insiders believe this to be the case and that the talk about a breakdown in relationship between Buthelezi and Magwaza-Msibi is to give the impression that the party is in disarray.

They affirmed that Buthelezi has indeed mentored Magwaza-Msibi since she was a young girl and many see her as stepping into his shoes. They believe there is a serious attempt to get her sidelined.

Magwaza-Msibi has called for party unity, saying that she will not allow anyone to damage its collective leadership. “Let us unite around the leadership of this party and focus on the 2011 local government election campaign,” she said.

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