Durban - Despite speculation that the sudden departure of long-time Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) leader Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi from the party's presidency stage will spark jostling for power, the party's new leadership was elected unopposed, with Velenkosini Hlabisa taking over as party president.
He was elected in the early hours of Sunday during the party's ongoing 35th elective conference in Ulundi in northern KwaZulu-Natal.
Hlabisa (54) a former school principal who is now the leader of the party in the KZN legislature and who has been on standby since 2017, was elected unopposed. His deputy will be Inkosi Mzamo Buthelezi who was once seen as the next leader when the post of deputy president was created for the first time in 2012.
Retaining his position as national chairperson was party veteran, Blessed Gwala, a member of the KZN legislature who was also once touted as a future successor of now-retired Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi. Gwala will be deputised by Thembeka Madlopha-Mthethwa, the only woman who was elected to the party's top seven.
Bringing in fresh blood, the party's 4500 delegates agreed to elect Siphosethu Ngcobo, a former unionist with the National Teachers Union (Natu) who recently left the union to join the party in the national assembly in Cape Town. Ngcobo's deputy will be party veteran, Albert Mncwango who is the current mayor of Nongoma municipality and who was also once seen as a potential contender for the party's presidency.