Durban - Although he surrendered his position on Sunday morning when Velenkosini Hlabisa was elected unopposed as party President, former leader, Prince Mangosuthu, will still have an active role to play in the party’s affairs – albeit at his discretion.
In the new role, Hlabisa said on Sunday, Buthelezi will still be allowed to attend party meetings and offer bits of advice if his schedule allows it.
Buthelezi's new title will be “President Emeritus” and it was, according to Hlabisa, unanimously conferred to the party’s founding leader by branches on Saturday night.
An emeritus is a person retired from professional life but permitted to retain as an honorary title the rank of the last office held and he can sometimes contribute when needed.
“I made a motion to make his Excellency the IFP’s President Emeritus. The motion was unanimously endorsed by the conference,” Hlabisa told Independent Media on the sidelines of the party’s conference in Ulundi, northern KZN.
Asked what exactly the title allows the retired Buthelezi to do and not to do, Hlabisa said among other things, he can attend any party meeting.
“This bestows on him the right to attend any meeting of the party, if time allows him, to make any contribution. Secondly, it allows him to be available for us to consult on any matter, anytime because he is a resource that we have as a country,” he added.
Furthermore, Hlabisa said Buthelezi still has a role to play in the country’s politics, social cohesion and conclude the issue of reconciliation between the African National Congress and the IFP.
“There are [a] number of national issues which are not yet resolved which would be championed by the Prince of KwaPhindangene.”
It was not yet clear whether Hlabisa will now leave his position as the leader of the IFP in the KZN legislature (where it is the official provincial opposition) to lead the party in the national assembly where it is the fourth largest party with 15 MPs.
It was not clear whether Buthelezi will vacate his parliamentary seat and watch from the political sidelines of the country.