Inkatha Freedom Party president Velenkosini Hlabisa is trying to put a lid on the debate of who will be the party’s premier candidate for KwaZulu-Natal.
The resurgent IFP has been beating the ANC in by-elections across the province and now governs most of the municipalities that were hung after the 2021 elections.
The party has survived the informal alliance of the ANC and the EFF which threatened to reverse its gains across the province.
In the highly contested 2021 municipal elections, the IFP reduced the ANC’s dominance in the province to 41,44%.
And now in a formal alliance with the DA, the IFP’s quest to unseat the ANC in the province has a real shot at being successful.
But Hlabisa, who replaced IFP founder Mangosuthu Buthelezi as party president, said there have been no formal discussions in the party about the premier candidate.
“On the issue of the premier in KwaZulu-Natal, the IFP has never met to discuss who will be the premier candidate in 2024 or who will be on the list of members of provincial legislatures or the National Assembly.
“It has not met; now, people who want to divert the attention of the IFP and want to see the IFP engaged in a continuous conflict are starting to say so-and-so is going to be in this position.”
Even before the death of Prince Buthelezi, Hlabisa, who was initially seen as the obvious choice for the position, has been under pressure from a new faction in the party that favours Thami Ntuli, the party’s provincial chairperson.
Hlabisa said talk of divisions in the IFP were driven by outsiders who are scared of an IFP victory at the polls.
Previously he denied reports that Ntuli felt entitled to the position of premier since he is the provincial chairperson.
The recent decision to send Hlabisa to the National Assembly as one of the IFP MPs has emboldened Ntuli supporters.
“It is unwise to continue on the issue of factions and camps because we have seen, even in other political parties, how factions have destroyed the political parties.”
The IFP is also avoiding discussing a party list of people who would go to the National Assembly and the provincial legislature, especially in the event that the party returns to govern in KZN.
This week, ActionSA leader Herman Mashaba once again pledged support for the IFP and instructed its premier candidate Zwakele Mncwango to support the IFP’s plans to move the KZN legislature from Pietermaritzburg to Ulundi.