IFP announces dates for elective conference

2011-02-07 00:00

ALTHOUGH the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) finally announced the dates for its elective conference last week, the embattled KwaZulu-Natal–based party is still faced with the mammoth task of identifying the leader who will lead the party until the next general elections in 2014.

Last week IFP national organiser Albert Mncwango announced that the IFP will hold its elective annual general conference (AGM) on October 14-16, 2011, following a two-year delay and internal squabbles that resulted in the establishment of a splinter group, the National Freedom Party (NFP) led by its former national chairperson, Zanele “VZ” Magwaza-Msibi.

The IFP internal squabbles eventually led to the party being divided between those who support Magwaza-Msibi and those who back secretary-general Musa Zondi to take over leadership after IFP’s president Mangosuthu Buthelezi announced his intention to bow out after his umpteenth re-election in 2004.

In an attempt to resolve the in-fighting, in October 2009 the IFP national council requested Buthelezi to continue leading the party until the situation improved.

In an interview with The Witness in Umlazi on Saturday, Buthelezi would not say whether he will continue leading the party, but said he was approached by the national council to continue leading because there is conflict in the party and he has to ensure a “smooth transition” to the new leadership.

Nor would he say whether he will agree to continue leading the party should the national council recommend he continue.

Following the departure of Magwaza-Msibi, the party is also left without a national chairperson.

Regarding that, Buthelezi said the constitution of the party allows the national council to appoint an acting chairperson and that the national council will soon decide on whether it will exercise that option.

Buthelezi said at the moment the national chairperson’s duty are being fulfilled by the deputy, Velaphi Ndlovu.

Some sources within the party said that although Zondi enjoys solid support within the IFP, his in-fighting with Magwaza-Msibi has dented his image among the party faithful. Reported anti-Magwaza-Msibi sentiments echoed by Mncwango during the battle for the soul of the IFP also made him an unlikely candidate for either the presidency or the national chairmanship.

So it would not be a surprise should less known leaders emerge and fill top posts within the party after the coming conference.

For the first time Buthelezi conceded that the establishment of the NFP will definitely dent the support of the 35-year old party, as both parties will be fishing for supporters from the same pond.

However he discouraged IFP supporters gathered at the Umlazi Unit 17 hostel “from voting for new parties that have never been tested”.

In what could be fairly described as “damage control”, Buthelezi also used his weekend visit to Durban, a well-known Magwaza-Msibi stronghold, to explain his side of the story about the alleged ostracisation of Magwaza-Msibi that had led to her ditching the party.

The party will hold its national elective conference for the IFP Youth Brigade on March 11-13, while that for its IFP Women’s Brigade will be held on March 25-27.

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