Inkatha Freedom Party leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi, 88, will step down from the party’s leadership at its next elective conference, according to media reports.

Johannesburg - Inkatha Freedom Party leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi, 88, will step down from the party’s leadership at its next elective conference, according to media reports on Sunday.

Buthelezi has been IFP leader since the party's inception in 1975. He made the announcement at the IFP’s extended national council meeting in Durban, EWN reported.

Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane on Sunday paid tribute to the veteran IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi.

"As one of the foremost leaders in our nation's transition to democracy he played a key role in creating a framework for a negotiated solution to the racial conflict in South Africa," Maimane said.

"I would like to thank iNkosi Mangosuthu Buthelezi for his contribution to our country’s political history - in particular the role he played in KwaZulu-Natal in the early 1990's. We are appreciative for the 1994 decision Buthelezi took to participate in the first democratic South African elections after he initially refused. His decision meant that South Africa would have its first democratic election, which was held in 27 April 1994," he said.

"I have enjoyed working with him as part of the opposition in the 5th parliament, and wish him strength during his retirement, with many years of good health. The DA is confident that whoever is elected to take over the reins and lead the IFP will follow in Buthelezi’s example of steadfast loyalty to the country above all.

"We will continue to work with the IFP in cities and towns across the country, in order to deliver services to the people, and keep the ANC out of power," Maimane said.

African News Agency