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Mangosuthu Buthelezi: 'IFP has a fair chance of grabbing KZN from ANC'

The ANC’s support declined in the province to 54.22% during the May elections, while the IFP received 16.34% in voter support.

Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi. Picture: Sethembiso Zulu/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) leader Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi says his party has a “fair chance” of overtaking the African National Congress (ANC) as the governing party in KwaZulu-Natal at the next general elections.

“But that depends on certain things, that we do not relax and say we have arrived at the Holy Grail. We can only do that if we double our numbers in the next five years. There’s no need for rest or chance for us to rest,” Buthelezi said, speaking at the party’s KZN conference held in Ulundi this weekend.

Buthelezi said this goal was achievable following the IFP’s growth in electoral support in KZN after the May elections.

The ANC’s support declined in the province to 54.22% while the IFP reclaimed its status as the official opposition after receiving 16.34% in voter support. In the 2014 general elections, the ANC took the lion's share of the vote at 64.52% while the IFP stood at 10.86%.

• IFP’S Mkhuleko Hlengwa elected new Scopa chair

Buthelezi cited the Economic Freedom Fighters' (EFF) growth in KZN as an example of how the ANC could lose power in the province in 2024. The EFF got 1.85% in the 2014 elections and in May this year, the red berets got 9.71%.

“We have rather painful evidence that growth of that nature is possible… the EFF increased its support in KZN by more than four times. It’s growing exponentially in this province and the reason is very simple for that,” Buthelezi said. “It is not that they have such radical policies or total disregard for collective damage, the EFF mobilises at grassroot level and have a strong network of community-based structures”.

The IFP leader, who has led the party since its formation in 1975, said his party had always been a grassroots movement and needs to return to that.

“As much as they have a highly visible and charismatic leader in the top, the EFF is not a one-man show. It has been grown from the ground up [and] has an army of foot soldiers who are able to inflict serious damage.

“This strategy of growing ground up and focusing on mobilising at grassroots level, it is not something the EFF invented. It is, in fact, the very strategy that we used in Inkatha to grow numbers and stand in those first years of existence. This is, in fact, our legacy,” he said.

IFP SUCCESSION PLAN TESTED

Meanwhile, Buthelezi’s succession plan was reportedly challenged on Friday night at the conference. The Sunday Times reported that the long-serving leader’s plan to install Nkandla Mayor Thamsanqa Ntuli as the IFP’s KZN chairperson was opposed by branches who wanted to nominate their own candidate.

It’s alleged that Buthelezi wanted to use the position as a “trade-off” to apparently stop a faction from challenging his own preferred successor, Velenkosini Hlabisa, when the IFP elects new leadership at its national conference set for later this year in August where Buthelezi is expected to step down.

However, party spokesperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa denied the claims to the publication, saying Buthelezi spoke out against divisions within the party and called for unity at the conference.

Ntuli was eventually elected as the party’s KZN chairperson, which puts him in charge of the IFP’s structures in the province.

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