IFP leader Velenkosini Hlabisa Picture: Bongani Mbatha /African News Agency (ANA)
IFP leader Velenkosini Hlabisa Picture: Bongani Mbatha /African News Agency (ANA)

IFP leader sets his sights on running KZN again

By Samkelo Mtshali Time of article published Jun 9, 2021

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THE IFP in KwaZulu-Natal believes that it is well positioned to usurp the ANC as the governing party in the province in 2024, some 20 years after it ceded power to the ANC in the province.

IFP leader Velenkosini Hlabisa, who succeeded the party’s founder and long time leader Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi as party leader after the 2019 national and provincial elections, has set his sights on ensuring that governance of the province returns to the IFP in three years time.

A buoyant Hlabisa this week told the media that his party had well laid plans to unseat the ANC come the 2024 elections, claiming that the party’s work on the ground was as efficient as clockwork in this pursuit.

“In 2024 we are taking back KwaZulu-Natal. This plan has been in action for quite a long, as I’ve said in 2019 we looked at it as three elections in one, 2019, 2021 and 2024. Beyond 2024,” Hlabisa said.

At the dawn of South Africa’s democracy, the IFP was in control of the province having amassed just over half of the votes at the polls with 50.32% of the votes going their way as they enjoyed 41 legislature seats.

Although this majority would decrease by almost 10% in the 1999 national and provincial elections, the IFP still retained power in the province with a 41.90% of the electorate voting in their favour, but their rule would come to an end in 2004 when they only won 36.82% of the votes as the ANC unseated them with 46.98% of the vote to take over power. They have held onto power up to date.

Now Hlabisa wants to ensure a return to power for the IFP saying that for the 2021 local government elections they have already identified ANC municipalities that they want to win before an ultimate unseating of the ANC at provincial level in 2024.

He said that their success in recent years had not been a coincidence and that this success was owed to a plan that they had in place from as far back as 2014 and 2015 when the IFP was winning wards from the ANC and taking ANC wards into IFP control. “That was the beginning of our plan to reclaim the lost ground,” Hlabisa said.

“We demonstrated in 2016 when we won more municipalities and we indicated that in 2019 we would do extremely well and some people were saying the IFP won’t see a comeback in 2019, but here we are, we are an official opposition in KZN in 2019,” Hlabisa said.

In unseating the Democratic Alliance and becoming the province’s official opposition party post the 2019 elections, the IFP had won just 13 seats of the 80 seats in the legislature while the ANC they won 44 seats.

Durban based political analyst Thabani Khumalo said that the IFP had recovered well from the breakaway of the IFP in 2011 and that they had regrouped and regained lost ground in by-elections and in the 2016 and 2019 elections.

“An advantage for the IFP is that the DA has tried and failed to filter into the rural areas with KZN being mostly rural, hence the IFP has managed to reclaim the position of the official opposition party in the legislature from the DA,” Khumalo said.

However, despite Hlabisa being at pains to explain that he was now the face of the party, Khumalo said that a disadvantage for the IFP in the minds of the electorate was that there remained doubts as to who between Hlabisa and the party’s founder and long time Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi was the face of the party.


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