IFP leader Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi will address the party faithful on Saturday, in a series of events that will culminate in his farewell address on Sunday. Picture: Bongani Mbatha/African News Agency (ANA Archives)

Durban - IFP leader Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi on Saturday afternoon will address the party faithful on Saturday, in a series of events that will culminate in his farewell address on Sunday, marking his end of his journey as the president of the party he formed more than four decades ago.

The elderly statesman had on Friday night opened the party’s national election conference at the Prince Mangosuthu Stadium in Ulundi, Zululand. This is a historical conference as it is the first one in which a new leader will be elected to succeed him.

Addressing more than 4 000 voting delegates, observers and invited guests at about 9 pm, Buthelezi said beside voting for the members of the top seven leadership structure, the conference should discuss how the party would contribute in tackling the country's economic crisis, unemployment and the failure of the education system.

He also raised concerns about the collapse of leadership integrity in the country.

“As much as this conference is a watershed moment in the history of the IFP, it takes place at a watershed moment in our country.

“So we will use this conference, as we always have, to consider the battle and to sharpen our weapons. For we are warriors who must fight for South Africa.

“It is what we have promised to do, and the IFP, above all, is a party of integrity,” he said.

He said throughout the past 44 years of its formation, the IFP had been working on building its legacy, “and still our work continues”. 

“The story of the IFP is deeply intertwined with my own story; the story of Buthelezi.

“I have served this party for 44 years, since its founding in 1975. Yet I have never served alone. 

“This party is bigger than Buthelezi. It is a future beyond my own,” he said. 

He said he was thankful to God for keeping his party strong all along.

He said although the party had for many years held elective conferences, this one was accompanied by unprecedented hype “because in this conference, Buthelezi will step down”. 

Political Bureau