Inkatha Freedom Party leader Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi. (Getty Images)
Riding the wave of its gains in the 2019 general elections, the IFP says while long-time president, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, will return to Parliament, he will not stand for leadership at the party's next elective conference.
"I have very publicly and clearly indicated what will happen, when it will happen and how it will happen. So, there is no surprise whatsoever that I am returning to Cape Town next week to be sworn in as a Member of Parliament," Buthelezi said on Monday.
He was speaking at a press briefing before a large media contingent at the IFP head offices in Durban.
It was announced that the party would hold its conference no later than July 2019.
Buthelezi said he had not named a successor because "that is not how it works".
"The IFP is a democratic party with a constitution and the rules of procedure. Our leaders are elected by the rank and file of our members through their delegated representatives at a national conference."
Also read: 'I'd rather be a small party than a party that uses poor people's money' - IFP's Buthelezi
He said that while other parties were well funded, the IFP, particularly in KZN, won its greatest victory in KZN.
"It was a clear win, placing the IFP in a position to challenge the ruling party in KZN. I know however, that the IFP's electoral success is based on more than Buthelezi. Those who like to suggest that ours is a one-man show have been put to shame in these elections."
Buthelezi said the party was blessed with strong leadership.
"These leaders, particularly our secretary general, worked tirelessly throughout this election campaign."
We asked him to stay on
When asked about the decision for Buthelezi to stay on, national spokesperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa said it was collective.
"If he had it his way, he would have stepped down. But at the behest of branches, he has stayed on. Other rumours are the imagination of people who do not have our best interests at heart," Hlengwa said.
Party chief whip Narend Singh said going forward, the performance of leaders in the party would be closely monitored.
"Each member will have to sign a performance agreement before taking office. There will be sanctions if they do not perform. After one or two warnings, they will be removed."
He said the party had done well because of their slogan: "Trust us", and added that the party would look for a major victory in the 2021 local government elections.
The party has increased its seats in Parliament from 10 to 14. After 100% of votes were counted over the weekend, the IFP celebrated the loudest after registering significant growth since the 2014 polls.
Also read: By the numbers: ANC wins big in KZN, but the IFP is smiling
In KZN, the IFP leapfrogged the DA to become the official opposition in the province again.
The DA, which managed to get 517 461 votes as the opposition in 2014, ended with 500 051, while the IFP improved dramatically from 393 949 to 588 046.
The ANC emerged with 1 951 027 (or 54.22%) votes, more than 10% lower than 2014, when the party garnered 2 530 827 votes.
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