Hlabisa, who had been earmarked by party structures as a potential Buthelezi successor, spoke to Independent Media as the party was registering branch delegates to participate in the KwaZulu-Natal elective conference held in Ulundi on Saturday evening.
Hlabisa said there would be no problem in Buthelezi remaining party leader in Parliament while no longer serving as the party’s president.
“If eventually it becomes what has been designated by the party (that) I am in KwaZulu-Natal as the leader of the official opposition while his excellency is in Cape Town. If he is no longer the president there will be no problem at all.
“As far as I am concerned, even if after the conference, if his health allows him, he will remain at national Parliament because he will still be active as the IFP member. There will be no conflict,” said Hlabisa.
He insisted that Buthelezi, who has led the party since its inception, will not accept the party’s presidential nomination at the conference to be held towards the end of August.
“Anyone who asks if he (Buthelezi) is going to accept the nomination says a lot about that person because he said it himself that he will not accept the nomination,” said Hlabisa.
The provincial conference held in Ulundi on Saturday was slightly delayed by long processes of sorting out accreditations and registering delegates who voted for eight positions, which are provincial chairperson, secretary, treasurer and publicity officer and their deputies.
Hlabisa said the new leadership, whose term of office will end in 2022, would have the task of preparing the IFP for the 2021 local government elections and 2024 general elections.
“The new leadership should keep the ball rolling from now to 2024 as we have tested our strategies and how to deliver what we want.
“We have proven it in small-scale elections such as by-elections, we have proven it in the general elections and we have proven it in the local government elections,” he said.
The IFP, which is now the official opposition in KwaZulu-Natal after unseating the DA, last held a provincial conference eight years ago because the party was working on sorting out challenges facing its branches.
“The branches have been validated and they are credible branches. We are also looking at youth brigade and women’s brigade and then the national conference,” Hlabisa said.