IFP members at the party's elective conference in uLundi. File picture: Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency(ANA).

The IFP’s reconciliation project with the ANC - which the party has tasked its former president Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi to head - must be the least of their worries as the party should concentrate on appealing to younger voters with the 2021 local government elections looming, political analysts say.

At the weekend IFP president Velenkosini Hlabisa told Eyewitness News that the party's history and role during apartheid had been distorted and that if the ANC made certain public concessions, the IFP’s public image would be cleansed.

However, political analyst Ralph Mathekga said that it was puzzling to think of the part of the version of history that would help the IFP currently.

“Maybe people think that the IFP has a credibility problem given the controversial role that it has played in the past and they wonder if this will help them. Of course, it’s always good to set things right historically, but is that the main problem of the IFP now? No. 

“The main problem of the IFP now is just a simple question of relevance, it’s a question of inspiring young people and reaching out to younger people. We are becoming an increasingly younger population so it means any party that relies a lot on the elders will have to think about its strategy of growth,” Mathekga said.  

Political analyst Thabani Khumalo said that in the wake of former Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe’s passing which saw divided opinion on his legacy, Buthelezi must have felt that he his and the IFP’s history was distorted and wanted to correct it. 

“Perhaps he is worried that there may be a judgment that he sold out the struggle against apartheid. he was part of the ANC and when he formed the IFP he did so with the blessing of the ANC, unfortunately along the way he changed the route and he became more closer to the apartheid government and became an enemy of the ANC.

“I think that this is a worry that is bugging him because even when the ANC was unbanned everybody thought that Buthelezi would welcome back the ANC and dissolve the IFP because the IFP was initiative which was blessed by Oliver Tambo on behalf of the ANC,” Khumalo said. 

He said that Buthelezi could be trying to “rewrite history” so to have a legacy which will be interpreted as that he was somebody who contributed to the in the struggle for the liberation of South Africa and worked alongside liberation forces, including the ANC. 

Khumalo said that the reconciliation project is not an indication of the IFP wanting to return to the ANC as there was no pressing need for that because that should have happened in the early 1990s when the ANC was unbanned. 

“Unfortunately that did not happen and he continued to be someone who was on the opposition side of the ANC and that’s how history is and that history will follow him even to his grave,” Khumalo said.    

Political Bureau