Election of Velenkosi Hlabisa as new leader changes IFP’s fortunes
Durban - The IFP had a fairly good year as it clawed back some of its past losses and continued to solidify itself within the country’s political landscape.
The party marked a milestone when it elected a new leader for the first time in its history, when Velenkosi Hlabisa took over from founding leader Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi.
But the shadow of Buthelezi, who had led the party since its inception in 1975, will continue to loom large.
Hlabisa, has, since taking the reins, visited Limpopo and Mpumalanga in pre-election campaigning for the 2021 municipal poll and 2024 general elections.
The IFP’s fortunes turned for the better in the May elections as it continued to reclaim its support base, which had dwindled since a decade ago.
It also managed to eject the DA as official opposition in KwaZulu-Natal, a status it lost in the 2014 elections.
In the National Assembly, the party was offered the chairperson post for the standing committee on public accounts, as the ANC preferred to continue its tradition of giving that role to smaller parties rather than to the official opposition.
As the IFP accepted the powerful position, it assigned the task to the youthful Mkhuleko Hlengwa.
He replaced African People’s Convention leader Themba Godi, who failed to secure his parliamentary seat.
The IFP continued to play its part in the coalition politics that has engulfed the City of Joburg in recent months.
As one of the kingmakers, the IFP angered the DA when it voted for an ANC candidate to be mayor instead of the DA nominee.
The IFP had helped the DA install Herman Mashaba in August 2016.