IFP: party tensions threaten

2009-08-28 00:00

THE succession battle to replace current IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi, if he decides to step down, may lead to irreparable rifts between party members and homogeneity is key to sustaining the party.

This is the view of political analysts and party insiders who spoke to The Witness on condition of anonymity.

The call for new leadership in the party was made by members of the IFP Youth Brigade following the party’s dismal showing in the April 22 elections. Recently the call has intensified.

In the past few days, two groups from the party’s Youth Brigade have openly endorsed candidates of their choice. One group has put forward national chairman Zanele KaMagwa-Msibi as their preferred successor to Buthelezi and the other group, which said it will defend Buthelezi’s legacy “at all cost”, has openly endorsed the party’s secretary-general, Reverend Musa Zondi, if the current leader decides not to stand for re-election.

Lobbying in the public domain for successors before nomination process begins is foreign to the IFP and party insiders said that this behaviour is worrisome.

They said that the lobbying intensified after rumbles circulated that Buthelezi may not stand for re-election. What is also worrying, said the insiders, is that the behaviour of the lobbyists is not keeping with the traditions of the party.

The lobbyists should have at least waited for the date of the elective conference to be set, before putting names of the people they want to lead the party forward, said insiders.

Political analyst from Ingabadi Group, Nhlanhla Mtaka, said that the latest developments in the IFP are attributable to the lack of effective political communication.

“Why people would announce nominations if the process has not started is a clear indication that [IFP members] are not talking in one voice,” said Mtaka. He said that there seems to be unnecessary panic among the preferred candidates as well because it would be strange if the they were unaware of the nominations before hand.

“The IFP needs to unite, and reconciliation and a platform for dialogue are needed before the party holds its elective conference, because there is another important election in less than 20 months [the local government elections],” added Mtaka.

Analyst Protas Madlala said there are senior leaders who are dead wood within the party and the youth are simply saying get rid of the old and put in new leaders with new ideas.

“The youth is concerned about the party getting weaker and that there is no internal democracy to elect who should lead the party, that is what the youth is saying,” said Madlala.

He, however, cautioned the lobbyists.

Whoever the youth backs as the successor, he said, should also be backed by Buthelezi.

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