Durban - IFP president Velenkosini Hlabisa said talk of reconciliation with the ANC had nothing to do with a merger between the two parties.
The late founding president of the IFP, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi’s wish before his death was to see his party and the ANC reconcile, and both Hlabisa and ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa echoed his sentiments at his funeral earlier this month.
Hlabisa insisted that the IFP had its own principles, values and policies and while the party would pursue the discussions around reconciliation, there was no suggestion this would form the basis of a merger between the two parties.
“The IFP is of the view that reconciliation is about healing the wounds of the past so we rebuild a reconciled South African society. It has nothing to do with a merger,” Hlabisa said.
He said the issue of reconciliation is a long outstanding matter.
“It is the ANC that has been dragging its feet to date. The late Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi has been knocking and standing at the door of the ANC, requesting that this matter be concluded before he closed his eyes. Unfortunately, here we are today.”
Hlabisa said any discussions on reconciliation should take place at a national level.
“The ANC at one stage at the beginning of this year delegated this matter to KwaZulu-Natal ANC provincial leaders. The IFP insisted that the reconciliation between the IFP and ANC is a national matter not to be delegated to the provincial leadership.”
In his eulogy at Buthelezi’s funeral, Ramaphosa said that despite all their difficulties, they had to fulfil Buthelezi’s long standing wish of reconciliation between the two parties.
“Prince Buthelezi took time to express to me his desire to see the IFP and the ANC permanently reconciled and working together to build our country. For this, he earned my admiration.
“We carry the heavy weight of memories and much heartache. But, difficult as it may be right now, it is important that we fulfil the wishes he had for a sustainable and durable reconciliation not only between the IFP and the ANC but among all of us as the people of South Africa.”
Others, including ANC deputy president Paul Mashatile, ANC national executive committee member Zweli Mkhize, IFP chief whip Narend Singh, former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo and former IFP secretary-general Reverend Musa Zondi have all spoken about Buthelezi’s call for reconciliation between the parties.
Political analyst Professor Bheki Mngomezulu said the parties in the past had worked together in running KwaZulu-Natal. “However, current developments compound the reconciliation narrative,” he said.