Inkatha Freedom Party president Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi. (Amanda Khoza, News24)
Durban – Inkatha Freedom Party president Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi on Wednesday said accusations that his party orchestrated the demise of the National Freedom Party were false and baseless.
Speaking at a press briefing at the party's headquarters in Durban, Buthelezi said his party has always supported the NFP and urged them not to forfeit their right to vote.
"Allegations have been made by the NFP leaders that the IFP is somehow responsible for the administrative error that saw the NFP disqualification by the IEC. Ms Busisiwe Tshabalala, secretary general of the NFP Movement, issued a statement to the media on Monday claiming that 'senior leaders' of the NFP had been bribed by the IFP 'with huge amounts of money' to sabotage the NFP," said Buthelezi.
He said Tshabalala did not produce any evidence to prove the claims and had not responded to the IFP’s demands for proof.
The NFP had challenged the Independent Electoral Commission of South Africa's (IEC) decision to disqualify it after it failed to pay the registration fee by the June 2 deadline. It lost its case in the Electoral Court on Saturday.
On Tuesday, 28 NFP members were arrested after they blockaded a busy road on the turn-off to Ulundi near Melmoth in KwaZulu-Natal. They were protesting against the party's disqualification. The party on Wednesday said it was finalising documents to appeal the Electoral Court’s decision at the Constitutional Court.
'Baseless and inflammatory'
"This morning [Wednesday], I was told that NFP supporters were again protesting on the road that joins the main road from my home. It is evident that they feel that I am somehow to blame for their difficulties."
Buthelezi said making irresponsible allegations against his party was borne out of desperation.
"It is baseless and inflammatory."
He said the entire matter had serious repercussions, which would increase if the NFP failed to set the record straight and accept that this was an internal matter and had nothing to do with the IFP.
He said before the incidences occurred, a spokesperson of the NFP warned that there would be violence in the wake of the Electoral Court's decision to uphold the IEC's ruling. It is not clear to whom the warning was directed to, said Buthelezi.
A store was attacked and vandalised in kwaNongoma, on Wednesday morning, he added.
"The owner of the store is a known IFP supporter who makes T-shirts for our party. This attack appears to be retribution."
Buthelezi said the IFP's deputy national spokesperson, Albert Mncwango, informed him that a journalist had told him that the NFP was promising that there would be a by-election after August 3.
"The suggestion is that our councillors will be targeted for assassination."
He said he was deeply disturbed by the latest developments.
"I remember how the political violence of the 80s and early 90s started. It began with tit-for-tat actions, irresponsible allegations and propaganda.
He called on NFP leaders to speak to their members and tell them the truth about the late payment to the IEC that led to their disqualification from the upcoming local government elections.
"It had nothing to do with the IFP. This is an internal matter that the NFP will need to deal with maturity and circumspection. Making inflammatory allegations will not serve to heal their party.
"It will only cause an escalation of the anger that has already begun to express itself through protest and violence," said Buthelezi.
NFP president Zanele kaMagwaza-Msibi, who had a stroke in 2014, formed the party after breaking away from the IFP in 2011.
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