Shenge cold-shouldered

2011-03-14 00:00

THE rapturous applause that marked the arrival of Inkatha Freedom Party president Mangosuthu Buthelezi at IFP Youth Brigade conferences for the last 31 years was absent on Friday night as a handful of IFP faithful greeted him at the opening of the three-day elective conference on Friday.

Wielding his trademark baton as he arrived at Mandleni/Matleng Camp, Buthelezi passed a row of empty chairs as he made his way to the stage to meet youth bridage leaders and other members of the IFP national executive committee (NEC).

Buthelezi himself was all smiles as he hugged his colleagues, deputy national chairperson Velaphi Ndlovu, secretary-general Reverend Musa Zondi and his deputy, Professor Themba Msimang, looked dejected amid the small audience that greeted him.

This was the first national conference to be held by the IFP since the breakaway by a sizeable number of IFP supporters to join former IFP national chairperson Zanele ‘’VZ’’ Magwaza-Msibi’s National Freedom Party.

Youth Brigade leader Ayanda Khuboni said the reason there were so few people present was that this was a delegated conference.

The damage inflicted by the NFP breakaway could not be concealed when Hlengiwe Mthiyane, the former publicity secretary of the IFPYB in KwaZulu-Natal, presented her provincial report, showing that a number of youth brigade provincial executive committee members had either been expelled or had resigned to join the NFP.

The latest among them were the provincial chairperson, Skhumbuzo Khanyeza — who resigned last week, despite having been returned to the IFP last year after being expelled, allegedly for supporting Magwaza-Msibi — and the deputy provincial secretary, Bheki Mngwengwe, who defected to the ANC last week.

The report indicated that most districts and constituencies were non-operational or operating under co-opted leaders due to the resignations.

Outside the conference venue, vendors selling IFP regalia said they were not as busy as in previous years.

Most of the small groups observed by The Witness talked about the damage that had been inflicted on the party by the woman they call “VZ” or “Sihlalo” (chairperson).

“Our support base has now been split by the NFP formation and that will give the ANC an opportunity to make more inroads in our municipalities,” said one angry member who asked not to be named.

The second and third day of the conference saw improved attendances, but the numbers could not be compared to youth brigade conferences of previous years .



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