IFP: talk of infighting persists

2012-01-11 00:00

SPECULATION is rife that the the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) is caught up in its own succession battle and that the wings of yet another powerful figure, the party’s national organiser and member of Parliament Albert Mncwango are being clipped.

It all started with a statement issued yesterday by Mncwango saying that it was with regret he had to announce that he has been asked by the party leadership to step down as the national organiser with immediate effect. This was in order to allow the party to implement certain transformational changes.

Mncwango noted in his statement that he remains a member of the IFP and that he has been a member of the party for 37 years — 14 of those years spent as national organiser. He said this role was carried out in “extremely difficult and risky political circumstances, which at times put my very life and that of my family at stake”.

His statement was followed by one from the IFP deputy national spokesperson, Joshua Mazibuko, who expressed his surprise at Mncwango’s announcement.

Mazibuko said the national executive committee had met and Mncwango had been present when it was discussed that it would be in the best interests of the party to appoint a technocrat as a national organiser rather than a politician.

Mazibuko felt that Mncwango’s announcement was premature. “The IFP constitution states clearly that it is the national council of the IFP that appoints the national organiser. He said the matter was to be discussed at a national council meeting this weekend and that no decision had been taken on a way forward.

“It is unfortunate therefore that Mr Mncwango jumped the gun by announcing his departure.”

Mncwango believes he has done no such thing. He was at the meeting when a collective decision was taken and all he was doing was making the announcement. “I have no ill-feelings and I understand the reasons for the decision. It will also lighten my load as I am also a member of Parliament and at times it was difficult doubling up.”

However, a former IFP member who did not want to be named believes that Mncwango is the latest victim in the power struggle within the IFP.

He said first there was Zanele-Magwaza-Msibi and a group of senior leaders that left with her and formed the National Freedom Party (NFP). At the end of last year the party’s secretary-general Musa Zondi, regarded as heir apparent to IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi when he retires, announced that he was quitting active politics at the IFP’s planned elective conference, expected to finally take place early this year.

Zondi’s announcement came amidst allegations about his personal life, with talk of infidelity and having children out of wedlock. He said at the time that the smear campaign came from people within the IFP who believed he was a threat to their leadership ambitions. The former IFP member said that with Zondi out of the way, Mncwango was seen as a potential candidate to take over the leadership of the party.

Removing him as national organiser effectively clips his wings. It means that he loses all other senior positions within the party and will no longer sit on the national executive committee.

“All he will effectively be is a parliamentary back-bencher,” said the former member.

However, others felt that the writing was on the wall for Mncwango when his wife, Sanelisiwe, joined Magwaza-Msibi’s NFP while he was the IFP’s national organiser. They say this angered Buthelezi.

Mncwango first described his wife’s defection as an April Fool’s joke, retracting his words when he saw pictures of her in an NFP T-shirt. Three days later his wife resigned from the NFP and “went back home to the IFP”. She unconditionally apologised to her husband and family and pledged herself a loyal servant and member of the IFP.

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