NFP leader Zanele KaMagwaza-Msibi

Durban - The IFP has been given 14 days to apologise for “insults” its leader, Mangosuthu Buthelezi, allegedly hurled at NFP leader Zanele kaMagwaza-Msibi – or face legal action.

KaMagwaza-Msibi, now the deputy minister of science and technology, announced during a briefing in Durban on Monday that her party’s lawyers had given a letter of demand to IFP chairman Blessed Gwala last week.

The former Zululand District mayor said Buthelezi had accused her of stealing money from the district to fund the NFP’s election campaign. She said the IFP, which was her former political home before she was expelled, should also retract allegations that the ANC had sponsored the formation of the NFP.

During the run-up to the May elections, she said, Buthelezi was seen distributing papers that said that, while she was mayor, she used public funds to campaign.

“This has been extremely costly to me and the party,” she said. “The IFP leadership have been distributing papers with these insults to different communities. Even on the day of the elections the leader of the IFP (Buthelezi) was distributing these, giving it to people queuing to vote which is contrary to the (election) code of conduct.”

KaMagwaza-Msibi said she was taking action only against the IFP although the ANC had made similar allegations.

The ANC went so far as approaching Public Protector Thuli Madonsela to probe the matter.

ANC NEC member Bheki Cele also led an ANC march to the Zululand District Municipality to protest about the same issue. However, KaMagwaza-Msibi only insisted that the IFP apologise.

“As a political party we always expect opponents (the ANC) to criticise us, and we understand it is just politicking, but other people (IFP) talk as if they have facts. Actions should be taken to stop that,” she said.

NFP national organiser Sipho Mbatha said the party received loans from businesses for its campaign, and it was now paying back about R11 million to them.

To service the debt, party councillors, MPLs and MPs were paying 15 percent of their salaries.

IFP spokesman Joshua Mazibuko said the IFP had not received a letter from the NFP lawyers.

“If they go to court we will meet there,” he said. – Additional reporting by Nqobile Zuma

The Mercury