Durban – IFP President Velenkosini Hlabisa on Sunday said the party was looking forward to Mangosuthu Buthelezi’s full recovery and return to make his contribution ahead of next year’s elections.
Buthelezi, president Emeritus of the party, celebrated his 95th birthday in hospital on Saturday.
Hlabisa said Buthelezi had provided guidance and showed direction to the new leadership.
“We are looking forward to his further guidance as we are preparing for the 2024 general elections and way beyond.”
Hlabisa said next year’s election must be a turning point in what is happening in the country in terms of crime, unemployment, load shedding, poverty, inequality and the growing gap between the rich and the poor.
“We are so happy, the by-elections are a barometer that we are using. The IFP has taken wards from the ANC since 2021,” said Hlabisa.
He said Buthelezi and his family will have an intimate and private celebration of his birthday in hospital, with the expectation that he will be discharged from hospital soon.
“As a political party, we are constantly engaged with him on developments but most of these developments are kept with us and him, as the family requested.
“We had looked to this date and that he would be at home to celebrate his birthday but the medical team felt that it would be better for a closer observation. We are happy with his recovery since he has been in hospital.”
Hlabisa said this celebration was “for a man who has dedicated his life to the people of South Africa and the kings and kingdoms of the Zulu nation” would be a private one.
The ANC in KwaZulu-Natal said it wanted to join many people around the country and leaders of society in wishing Buthelezi a happy birthday.
“Although we had hoped that he was going to celebrate this major milestone at home with the family, we do understand that health-care workers are still providing quality health care to Shenge.
“For our part, we would like to appeal to the people of this province, especially leaders of faith-based organisations to pray for the full recovery of Umntwana waKwaPhindangene,” the party said in a statement.
DA KZN leader Francois Rodgers said the party wished Buthelezi well on the occasion of his 95th birthday.
“The DA also wishes the Prince a speedy recovery.
“Thank you for your dedication to South Africans and the role you continue to play to strengthen our democracy. We are hoping for a speedy recovery and safe return to your family.”