IFP leader ­Mangosuthu Buthelezi
Durban - Political analysts believe the postponement of the Inkatha Freedom Party’s national elective conference, initially scheduled for December, was a strategic move to avoid a brutal leadership contest and factionalism ahead of next year’s ­general elections.

On Sunday, IFP leader ­Mangosuthu Buthelezi said the postponement of the party’s provincial and national conferences was due to slate politics, which had been giving him sleepless nights.

Political analyst Dr Somadoda Fikeni said the ­challenge for the IFP might be the search for the right successor to Buthelezi, who has been “a giant image and persona of the party”.

“It might be that the succession process is not taking place the way they might have hoped it should, and therefore it’s taking longer to happen. The name that was presented (Velenkosini Hlabisa) may not be garnering the consensus they might have been hoping for,” Fikeni said.

He said the IFP could possibly be avoiding an outright brutal contest and, instead, they could be looking for a negotiated rise of a new leader instead of a brutal contestation for the party presidency.

Another political analyst, Thabani Khumalo, believed that Buthelezi’s announcement was a strategic move to dispel the perception that the IFP was a one-man show.

He said the postponement of the conferences was a result of Buthelezi looking to campaign as the face of the party for next year’s election.

“It was a strategic decision he took at a strategic time when the IFP is regaining support on the ground. In the past, he would say he would not contest, but then come back, saying he had been lobbied by members to contest. Those were hard times for the IFP, when support was dwindling, but right now the IFP is on the rise, stable and regaining ground, and he made that announcement from a very strong angle,” Khumalo said.

“He will not step down from power when the IFP is strong, with a few months left before the elections.”

Daily News