IFP deputy president Inkosi Mzamo Buthelezi believes that the national council of the party should not overlook King Cetshwayo district mayor Thami Ntuli when it makes a decision on the party’s premier candidate for KwaZulu-Natal.
Buthelezi, speaking at the recent Princess Magogo choral festival, said the party must elect leaders of substance, including Ntuli, whom he described as “possessing the vision and dedication to guide us forward”.
Addressing Ntuli at the event he said: “I was almost tempted to say something in this regard, because in politics regardless of how much a person does, in the main we are driven by personal interest and personal ambitions, to an extent that we deliberately overlook talent to the detriment of citizens of this country.
“So when I’m talking about leaders of substance they make an example of the mayor of this district. I mean just that.
“I hope the IFP will never overlook what you have done and what you are doing and you continue to do. Not for the sake of the IFP, but for the sake of the founder of this party, for the sake of the people of South Africa and the reasons why the IFP was formed. Don’t overlook such leaders,” Buthelezi said.
Buthelezi on Monday said the festival was organised by Ntuli in his capacity as a district mayor, “which is something we are very proud of as the IFP”.
He said Ntuli was praised by other speakers at the event not only for his work in hosting the festival, but also for the overall service delivery in his district.
“Knowing Ntuli’s ability, his commitment, integrity and a sound track record and dedication to the service of the nation, I implored the secretary-general (Siphosethu Ngcobo) of the IFP, who was also present, to note the wish of people of this province.
“I said to him that mayor Ntuli should not be overlooked when the party decides who the premier candidate is.”
He said that he had mentioned that he wished Ntuli had a bigger jurisdiction because he could only do so much as a district mayor and if his territory was expanded, then he would be able to deliver much more in taking the festival across the province.
“This comment was not outside the understanding of the fact that the party has many capable leaders who may be considered and we have not discussed this matter.
“When it comes to ‘endorsing’ mayor Ntuli, it is the national council of the party that endorses such decisions,” Buthelezi said.
The party’s national spokesperson, Mkhuleko Hlengwa, said the party had not made a decision on the premier candidate and this was incumbent on the finalisation of the candidate nomination process of members of parliament and legislature candidates.
“The party has not engaged the DP (Buthelezi) on this statement.
However, the statement nonetheless must not be viewed as an endorsement as this prerogative resides with the national council,” Hlengwa said.
A senior party member, who asked not to be named, said there was growing consensus that Ntuli should be the premier candidate especially as the national council resolved last month to deploy party leader Velenkosini Hlabisa to Parliament to avoid any tension in a contestation for the KZN premier position.
Hlabisa took the seat left vacant following the death of party founder Mangosuthu Buthelezi.
“We need to be focused on the election campaign and the right decision on the premier candidate will be taken at the opportune time and using the proper processes,” the source said.
The IFP reshuffle also saw the party’s chairperson, Blessed Gwala, the chief whip in the legislature, taking Hlabisa’s place at provincial level.
Reverend Musa Zondi, the former IFP secretary-general, has taken Hlabisa’s legislature seat.
* This story has been updated.