The ANC paid tribute to outgoing Inkatha Freedom Party leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi, wishing him well as he stepped down as IFP leader. Picture: @IFPinParliament

Johannesburg - The African National Congress on Sunday paid tribute to outgoing Inkatha Freedom Party leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi, wishing him well as he stepped down as IFP leader.

"Prince Buthelezi has led the IFP for over 40 years and remains one of the key roleplayers in the struggle for democracy in South Africa. Having been a member of the African National Congress in the late 1940s throughout most of the apartheid era, Prince Buthelezi was considered one of the foremost black leaders," said ANC national spokesperson Pule Mabe.

"He [Buthelezi] played a key role in creating a framework for a negotiated solution to South Africa's racial conflict. Following the 1994 general election, Prince Buthelezi led the IFP to join the government of national unity, led by our global icon Tata Nelson Mandela."

Mabe said despite acrimonious relations between the ANC and the IFP at the time, "as a unifier in his own right", Buthelezi accepted the responsibility to serve as Home Affairs minister from 1998 until 2004.

The ANC congratulated Buthelezi for his continued commitment to the values of constitutional democracy and wished him well as he stepped down as leader of the IFP. 

"At the same time, we urge the newly-elected IFP leadership to tap into his wisdom as they prepare to take over the reins of the party," said Mabe.

The IFP announced on Sunday that KwaZulu-Natal member of the provincial legislature Velenkosini Hlabisa had been elected as the new IFP leader, replacing Buthelezi.

IFP communications director Liezl van der Merwe said Hlabisa has been elected at the 2019 IFP national general conference at the Prince Mangosuthu Regional Stadium in Ulundi this weekend.

The other newly elected office bearers, who constitute the IFP's national executive committee (NEC), were:
- deputy president: Inkosi Mzamo Buthelezi;
- national chairperson: Blessed Gwala;
- deputy national chairperson: Thembeni kaMadlopha-Mthethwa;
- secretary general: Siphosethu Ngcobo;
- deputy secretary general: Albert Mncwango; and
- treasurer general: Narend Singh.

"The national general conference also elected members of the national council to serve for a term of five years. The national council is the party’s highest decision-making body in between conferences.

"Furthermore, the IFP national general conference has passed a resolution to bestow an honour unto former IFP president Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP with the title: president emeritus in recognition of Shenge being the IFP’s founding president and to honour his legacy of servant leadership to the IFP and South Africa at large," Van der Merwe said.

African News Agency (ANA)