Buthelezi's successor believes he can take the IFP forward
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Velenkosini Hlabisa, 52, who has been a member of the party for 39 years, and led in all party structures, has been nominated to take over from Buthelezi, who announced on Sunday the extended national council agreed to nominate Hlabisa and that he would step down at the IFP’s next elective conference - likely to be held in December.
“I am humbled that the dedication and sacrifice I gave showed that my leaders and party members trust me with a senior position, pending being elected by the conference,” Hlabisa said. “I accept, trusting that I will be able to propel the party and our nation forward.”
Hlabisa has led in all party structures from the branch level to youth brigade, and has been secretary of the IFP in KwaZulu-Natal since 2011.
He is a professional teacher who has worked as a ward councillor since 1995, and is currently mayor of KwaHlabisa.
He said the party had taught him integrity, something that the country needed in political leadership.
At the IFP’s last elective conference in December 2012, the party amended its constitution to create a position of deputy president as part of its succession plan. Inkosi Mzamo Buthelezi was elected unopposed as the IFP’s second-in-line to succeed Buthelezi.
Asked about succession plans, Buthelezi said the party had decided “we need a more experienced leader; he (Inkosi Mzamo) remains our deputy”.
Buthelezi described Hlabisa as a leader of integrity, who had served the IFP with distinction.
“He has broad support from our structures and a proposal that he stand for leadership emanated from across the party structures.
“Should he be elected to lead the IFP, I have made myself available to work alongside him in whatever way our members see fit, for as long as my health allows,” Buthelezi said.
He also indicated that he would “submit” in all things to the leadership.
He would also assist the party to make sure it would play a role it needed to play in South Africa.