Buthelezi warns of split

2010-07-05 00:00

INKATHA Freedom Party (IFP) leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi hinted that a massive split is looming within his 35-year-old party, similar to the ruling ANC’s split in Polokwane, which later culminated in the establishment of the Congress of the People (Cope) in 2008.

Delivering a keynote at the IFP’s KwaZulu-Natal conference in eSikhawini on Saturday, Buthelezi said that what happened to the ANC at Polokwane “is no longer a remote possibility, but a possible probability” within the IFP.

During the ANC’s Polokwane elective conference, supporters were divided between those backing president Jacob Zuma to take over leadership and those who wanted former president Thabo Mbeki to continue leading the party for a third term. The Zuma faction subsequently won and those backing Mbeki later established Cope after Mbeki stepped down as state president.

News that the IFP might split comes as the party is preparing for its annual elective general conference, which is scheduled to be held at eMandleni/Matleng camp in Ulundi between July 23 and 25.

Buthelezi told the conference, “If this party is split from top to bottom, the two pieces will be smaller and weaker.

“The legacy of the IFP will be destroyed which means that all the goodwill that supports us will vanish and, along with it, the votes.

“Our voice will be wiped out in the National Assembly and in provincial governance, and the IFP will be relegated to the annals of history, where the lies and propaganda will slowly destroy even the memory of our contribution.”

Buthelezi reserved most of his address for the ongoing infighting within the IFP, which is reportedly divided between supporters of national chairperson Zanele Magwaza-Msibi and those favouring Reverend Musa Zondi to take over leadership after Buthelezi’s retirement.

The IFP leader announced that the party will hold an extended national council meeting on Saturday at which leaders from all its structures will be present to map the way forward ahead of the national conference.

It will also give party structures “an opportunity to interrogate whether we have one IFP, or two organisations in one, and decide on the way forward”.

Buthelezi used much of his speech to attack the “Friends of VZ”, a group within the IFP that purports to support Magwaza-Msibi.

“In the end, only time will tell what will happen at our conference.

“At best, we can hope that the genuine will of our members prevails.

“We are not blinded to the fact that our opponents employ dirty tricks and underhand tactics to get what they want …

“We also know that there are people from outside the IFP fuelling the divisions by funding the “Friends of VZ” in the hope that they might destroy the IFP altogether,” Buthelezi continued.

On whether he has considered the national council’s request for him to continue leading the IFP until threats of division had subsided, Buthelezi said he has not yet reached a decision because his time had been consumed by ructions within the party.

“I am committed to keep going, to stoop and rebuild the IFP with whatever tools are at my disposal. My question to this provincial conference is whether you are ready to work with me … Or are you going to succumb to the flowing rivers of money which ‘the Friends of VZ’ are flaunting everywhere?”

Buthelezi also commented on controversies surrounding the Ithala Bank, which was founded by the erstwhile KwaZulu homeland government.

“It founded [Ithala] … to give our poorest of the poor access to loans since commercial banks were reluctant to give loans to people who could give no security for the loans they needed. Today, this bank has been pillaged by an elite in the government of the province,” Buthelezi said.

Among the resolutions taken by the conference were: to request Buthelezi to consider a national council resolution for him to continue leading the party; to affirm the Vukuzithathe Plan, which was devised to revive the party after its 2009 election defeat; and to call on the ANC leadership in KZN to halt the process of renaming Mangosuthu Highway in uMlazi pending the finalisation of unfinished business between the IFP and ANC.

The party also resolved to call for the suspension of Ithala Bank CEO Sipho Mbatha and the establishment of an independent inquiry into his alleged misconduct.

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