Former chairperson says he will surprise many by beating party leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi’s handpicked successor Hlabisa
The race to replace longtime Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi has been blown wide open, with his handpicked successor now likely to face a challenge in Ulundi.
Former IFP national chairperson Ziba Jiyane, who recently rejoined the party 14 years after he was unceremoniously forced out of its second most powerful position, believes delegates will have the final say on who succeeds Buthelezi.
Jiyane, who spoke to City Press on Saturday, said he was confident of again beating the odds just as he did in 2004 when he emerged from the IFP national conference as chairperson.
The only difference is that this time around he is vying for the party’s top job at the national elective conference scheduled for August 24 and 25 in Ulundi in KwaZulu-Natal.
In 2004 Jiyane was elected chairperson at the national conference, beating IFP stalwart and former KwaZulu-Natal premier Lionel Mtshali, a close confidante of Buthelezi, in an open vote.
This time around, he faces national secretary Velenkosini Hlabisa, who has been handpicked by Buthelezi as his successor, when he steps down next week.
“Just as it is the case now, with Hlabisa believed to be the obvious successor, it was a similar situation in 2004 with Mtshali expected to stroll to victory but I managed to beat him,” said Jiyane.
“The odds might be stacked against me but at the end of the day it’s the delegates who make the final decision.”
He added that his return to the IFP was as a result “of members within the party pleading with me to come back and continue the good work I had started all those years back before I left”.
Jiyane said sections in the party believed the IFP was headed for electoral oblivion if it did not shift towards a reform-minded and democracy-inclined leadership.
He said the lack of democracy within the party was hampering the IFP from making political inroads in the country and as a result it had been replaced by the EFF as the third biggest party in South Africa.
Longtime leader, Buthelezi, who has been at the helm since the IFP’s inception in 1975, has in recent months come under fire from within the party for imposing candidates in contests for senior leadership positions.
Buthelezi was accused of “anointing” Nkandla mayor Thamsanqa Ntuli as IFP KwaZulu-Natal chairperson after the latter was elected at the party’s provincial conference held in Ulundi in June.
The elevation placed Ntuli in charge of all the structures of the party in the province, and some within the IFP ranks claimed that Ntuli was only elected because of Buthelezi’s public backing.
However, party spokesperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa said clarity was needed in the face of “a lot of misreporting about the roles, rights and responsibilities of the IFP president”.
Hlengwa said that Buthelezi was at the KwaZulu-Natal conference in June as a delegate and the party’s constitution allowed him to take part in the election process.
“Constitutionally Prince Buthelezi, as IFP president, is a member of the provincial council of the province he is resident in – this being KwaZulu-Natal,” Hlengwa said.
“As a delegate he was well within his rights to participate in all the due processes of the conference which includes the nomination process.
“There [was] therefore nothing untoward with Prince Buthelezi [making a nomination], he was well within his rights to do so,” he said.
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