Buthelezi calls it quits after 44 years at IFP helm

By Doug Mattushek - 24 August 2019Views : 865

Outgoing Inkatha Freedom Party(IFP) leader Prince Mangosethu Buthelezi sought to downplay his stepping down from the helm after 44 years in power.

Buthelezi referred to his stepping down as "not a big deal" and that the party was bigger than him.

The IFP is the fourth largest party in Parliament after growing its support to 3.38% during the May 8 election, thus landing itself 14 seats in the National Assembly.

Having dislodged the DA as the official opposition in its stronghold of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), where it received 14.58% of the votes, equating to six seats in the provincial legislature.

Buthelezi, who turns 91 on Tuesday and is the oldest-serving MP in Parliament, has been an IFP leader since its injection in Ulundi, KZN, on March 21,1975.

In his welcoming remarks at the IFP national elective conference in Ulundi on Friday night, Mangosuthu described the conference as "different" and as a "watershed moment" for the organisation.

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"This conference has been accompanied by unprecedented hype and speculation. Because in this conference, Buthelezi will step down," he said, adding "this moment was planned a long time ago".

Adding that althought it maybe be a significant moment, but it is far less sensational than many seem to think. 

Speaking in the third person, Buthelezi, who stressed that there was democracy in the party, characterised his decision to step down as IFP leader in casual terms.

"I have servec this party for 44 years, since its founding in 1975. Yet I have never served alone. The party is bigger than Buthelezi. It has a future beyond my own".

It is expected that the conference will elect Mangosuthu's successor, deputy president, national chairman, deputy national chairman, secretary-general, and deputy secretary-general.