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Hlabisa: I was not handpicked by Buthelezi to lead IFP

Hlabisa said he was nominated at the party's national executive committee (NEC) meeting by another member and the nomination was supported by the rest of NEC.

IFP president Velenkosini Hlabisa at the last of the IFP conference that saw Mangosuthu Buthelezi step down.  Picture: Xanderleigh Dookey/EWN

ULUNDI - Newly elected Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) leader Velenkosini Hlabisa has denounced claims that he was handpicked by the party’s former leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi to take the helm.

Hlabisa was elected on Sunday to take over party leadership after Buthelezi's 44-year of steering the wheel.

In an Eyewitness News exclusive, Hlabisa said his ascension to power was merited by his work and commitment to the party.

WATCH: Meet Velenkosini Hlabisa - IFP's new president

Hlabisa said he was nominated at the party's national executive committee (NEC) meeting by another member and the nomination was supported by the rest of NEC.

He said Buthelezi only supported the nomination like many other party leaders.

“The role I have played in growing the IFP is what has exposed and revealed the capabilities that I have,” he said.

The 90-year-old political veteran is expected to deliver his farewell message on Sunday afternoon and Hlabisa will deliver his first official address as party president.