Future stability of IFP in doubt as founding Prince Mangosuthu lies in hospital

Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi. Picture: Shelley Kjonstad/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi. Picture: Shelley Kjonstad/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Published Aug 3, 2023


A political analyst has raised doubts about the future stability of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) post its founder and unifying figure, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi.

Buthelezi is currently fighting for his life in one of the hospitals in Durban.

On Wednesday President Cyril Ramaphosa said he spoke to the Buthelezi family who told them that the prince who is also the traditional prime minister of the Zulu monarch and nation is in the Intensive Care Unit.

Durban-based independent political analyst, Thabani Khumalo, says he foresees a bruising and battering battle for its leadership once Buthelezi is out of the picture.

His comment comes as last week one of the factions attempted a mutiny against party president Velenkosini Hlabisa.

The faction's attempt was thwarted by the party secretary-general, Siphosethu Ngcobo who ruled that the national council which the faction against Hlabisa wanted to convene and remove him through a vote of no confidence, cannot be called willy-nilly.

The 20 mutineers have since been called to appear before the party's national executive committee (NEC) on Monday next week to explain their surprise petition.

Khumalo said this is one of the indications that the party will not be stable after Buthelezi who have kept it united since it was formed in 1975.

Buthelezi stepped back from leading the party in August 2019, but the party created the position of President Emeritus for him so that it could continue to seek his guidance.

“Having thrived for 30-plus years without a strong internal democratic culture and without having a clear succession plan is most likely to derail iziNdlovu (the Elephants - the IFP) in the future.

“What is happening in NFP (National Freedom Party, a splinter party of the IFP that lost its founding leader, Zanele KaMagwaza-Msibi) is likely to be a curtain raiser of what is likely to follow in the elephants if their veterans do not stand up to protect the legacy (of Buthelezi),” Khumalo said.

He added that what will make things more difficult is that the IFP has not yet developed a coping mechanism for factionalism like other parties.

“‘Worse this scourge of factions is new in the IFP, and I doubt they have mastered the art of managing it. As they always say, parties built around personalities encounter huge problems when the founder is gone, ” Khumalo added.

[email protected]

IOL Politics