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Meet the IFP's new president Velenkosini Hlabisa

Velenkosini Hlabisa was elected as the new president of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP).

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

KWAZULU-NATAL – Velenkosini Hlabisa was elected as the new president of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP).

Hlabisa takes over from Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi who's been leading the party since its inception in 1975.

Mangosuthu - who delivered his last political report as leader yesterday - called for greater dialogue on the protection of the most vulnerable in society has and cautioned against violence.

The new president - who was the IFP's secretary general until now - gave a brief acceptance speech.

“This evening was the ending of an era and the beginning of a new season.”

Earlier this week, reports emerged that former IFP national chairperson Ziba Jiyane would challenge Buthelezi's preferred candidate Hlabisa.

However, the party’s secretary-general of administration, Mfanje Mbango said Jiyane had no chance as Hlabisa had the backing of the NEC.

At the same time, the party’s spokesperson, Mkhuleko Hlengwa, congratulated the new leader on Twitter:

BUTHELEZI URGES NEW LEADER TO FOCUS ON WOMEN, CHILDERN’S RIGHTS

Meanwhile, Buthelezi called on his successor to focus on protecting women and children as he takes the IFP into the future.

The former IFP leader argued that violence is never justified, and democratic principles must be upheld always.

Buthelezi went on to say those who wish to follow in his footsteps must take care of those marginalized in society.

“You must be champion of the vulnerable and speak of this everywhere you go. We need to change our society by changing the conversation. This is about democratic ideals, it’s about freedom and right to life.

Shenge - as he is popularly known - is expected to hand over power to Hlabisa as party president later today.

He added young people must be guarded against populist rhetoric and not follow leaders who promote violence.

(Edited by Refilwe Pitjeng)

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