Party Conference: Chance to step into anc space

2008-08-25 00:00

The battle lines were drawn at the Inkatha Freedom Party's 33rd national conference held in Ulundi this weekend, with the party determined to capitalise on the upheaval within the ruling ANC to make gains in the 2009 national elections.

IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi described the government as suffering from "post-Polokwane blues" with the "Zuma-fication" of the ruling party continuing unabated.

He said that the government "is in the doldrums, listing from side to side like a grounded ship".

"There are two captains on the deck now, both of whom seem to be shouting different orders to get the great ANC ship off the sandbanks."

Buthelezi added that in-fighting means service delivery suffers and that the state "no longer serves honest citizens, but has become a tool on demand to the corrupted, the powerful and the rich".

Against the backdrop of what he called a crisis of leadership, he proposed a space for the IFP to become a catalyst.

"It is time to lift up from the petty divisions that blight our politics. Politics should be for principle, not a lust for power," he said.

The party's election manifesto, still a closely guarded secret, was discussed in a closed session, but its direction was evident from the theme of the conference: "Honesty, integrity and courage: the IFP answer in a time of crisis."

There was a buoyant atmosphere at the gathering of 5 000 of the party faithful, and clearly a renewed belief that they could be a force to be reckoned with in the upcoming election. Delegates wore yellow T-shirts with the words "On the Road to Victory" emblazoned on the back.

The IFP recently won eight out of nine by-elections in KwaZulu-Natal and weekly have been parading groups of new members who have defected from other parties.

In his closing remarks, Buthelezi urged members to go into the 2009 elections in the right frame of mind. He said it is not about personal gain.

"When people go into battle for their country they do not go into battle in order to get accolades for themselves, they do so for their country."

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