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Five things you need to need to know about new IFP leader Velenkosini Hlabisa

Hlabisa joined the IFP in 1978 and has served the party in various structures including serving as a public representative.

Velenkosini Hlabisa looks on at Buthelezi's portrait at the IFP's offices in Ulundi, KwaZulu-Natal. Picture: Xanderleigh Dookey/EWN

KWAZULU-NATAL - In the early hours of Sunday morning, the IFP elected 54-year-old former party secretary general Velenkosini Hlabisa as party president.

Hlabisa takes over from 90-year-old party founder, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, who has led the party since 1975.

WATCH: Meet Velenkosini Hlabisa - IFP's new president

Hlabisa joined the IFP in 1978 and has served the party in various structures including serving as a public representative.

Here are five things you need to know about the party leader:

  1. Oldest of 10 children:

He was born and bred in rural Hlabisa in northern KZN as the first of 10 children. His father died in 1990, leaving him with the pressure to help his mother in raising his younger siblings.

2. He joined the IFP as a teenager:

Hlabisa joined the IFP in 1978 when he was 8-years-old. He has led in all party structures from branch level to youth brigade.

3. A teacher by profession:

The new IFP leader qualified as a teacher in 1991. He only worked for five years as a teacher as he was quickly promoted as principal. He remained a principal for 20 years.

4. Seasoned public servant:

Hlabisa has been in public office for 24 years. He was elected as a councillor in Hlabisa in 1995. He was later elected as the mayor of the Big Five Hlabisa Municipality. In May, he was elected to the provincial legislature as the leader of the official opposition.

5. High regard for Buthelezi.

Hlabisa said he considered his predecessor as "a great influence in his life". They have worked closely together since 2011 when Hlabisa was elected a secretary-general of the party.

The national executive committee of the IFP unanimously chose Hlabisa to become Buthelezi's successor.

In an interview with EWN on Saturday, Hlabisa said he considered Buthelezi to be a man of high integrity and would rely on him for guidance.

In his first speech as party president, the leader proposed that Buthelezi be granted that the status of IFP president-emeritus.

(Edited by Refilwe Pitjeng)

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