Even though Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi was relinquishing his position as the IFP president, the party should unite, said chairperson Blessed Gwala. Picture: S'bonelo Ngcobo.

Durban - Even though Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi was relinquishing his position as the long serving IFP president, the party should unite and increase its support in preparation for future elections, said party national chairperson Blessed Gwala on Saturday.

Delivering his remarks as the IFP delegates kicked off their elective conference in which Buthelezi is to be replaced by outgoing secretary-general Velenkosini Hlabisa, Gwala said the IFP should emerge from the conference stronger in preparation for the next elections.

“This conference must unite us and rejuvenate us so that we are able to increase more IFP support in preparation for the 2021 Local Government Elections and 2024 General Elections.

“This will ensure the IFP emerges victorious during the elections,” said Gwala.

Gwala said the final sitting of the conference after it had been postponed several times due to problems with branches had proven that sceptics, who speculated that it would either not sit or would collapse, were wrong. 

“Your attendance at this conference, representing your branches, is a victory over the doomsayers and those who do not wish our party well,” said Gwala. 

In a speech that started with what could be interpreted as farewell to Buthelezi, Gwala described his leader as an “umbilical cord in unifying the IFP”. 

“As a leader who had been described by the late ex-President Dr Nelson Mandela as a ‘formidable survivor’, he had managed to stay positive even during trying times where some of the people … have vilified, ridiculed and insulted him even in social networks, but he had never staged a war against his enemies. 

“Instead he had always been an ambassador of peace and unity,” said Gwala.

Buthelezi just told delegates of the conference that he was excited to hand over the baton to the  next generation of leaders. 

“I have confidence that we have done everything possible to secure smooth transition into the next chapter of the IFP,” said Buthelezi. 

Political Bureau