Despite not gaining many votes from its foray into the Free State province, the IFP is continuing to field candidates for by-elections as it seeks to shed the perception that it is a KZN party.
In the past few months, the party has contested by-elections in Dihlabeng local municipality and other areas.
The party’s traditional stronghold is KwaZulu-Natal where it is governing several municipalities and once governed the province.
It also has a significant presence in Gauteng’s Johannesburg and Ekurhuleni metros and Mpumalanga provinces where it gets votes from migrant workers.
Led by Petros Ngubane, the deployee of the party who is tasked with ensuring the presence and the visibility of the party in the Free State, it has since fielded candidates for two upcoming by-elections in the Mangaung metro.
In ward 49 the party has fielded Lerato Charllote Mphanya as its candidate while Lerato Florence Johane will raise the IFP’s flag in ward 50 of the same metro.
The four by-elections in Mangaung (Bloemfontein) come after comes the ANC summarily expelled its former councillors for voting with the opposition to oust their mayor.
Addressing the party’s Siyanqoba rally ahead of the by-elections on Wednesday, Blessed Gwala, the national chairperson of the IFP, said it was a myth that they are a regional party.
He thanked Ngubane who is also the Mayor of Umzinyathi district municipality for ensuring that the party is visible in the Free State.
“This has changed the perception that the IFP is a regional party, it only exists in the province of KwaZulu-Natal.
“It is the IFP's historic mission from its inception 46 years ago to pursue the liberation of the oppressed, dispossessed and the vulnerable of our country.
“We exist to serve,” Gwala said.
He also said the time had come for the people to vote out parties that have been promising them jobs for years.
“‘Local government councils have widely been regarded as the closest link to the citizens.
“That’s why it is important to vote for a capable, trustworthy and hard-working person to become an IFP councillor,” he pleaded with the voters.
Gwala said they have proven their capabilities in the municipalities they govern and that they are equal to the task at hand.
“The IFP is known for servant leadership and leadership with integrity, the IFP governs at the municipality level where we administer both local and district municipalities.
“It is here that our first track record made the IFP the best possible option in 2021 (local government elections).
“The IFP does not only offer solutions, the IFP is the solution."
He took a swipe at the ANC, saying they have been promising people jobs since 1994 and they have not delivered on that promise.
"In 1994 you heard other parties saying we will create jobs. In 1999 they said we will create jobs, in 2004, in 2009, in 2011, in 2014, in 2016, in 2019, 2021.
"Now again in 2023 as the 2024 elections are upon, they are promising you, we will create jobs.
“But have they delivered?” he asked.