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Buthelezi: IFP lost support because of Zuma by Ngwako Modjadji (News24), 26 March 2019

28 March 2019

Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) president Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi believes that support for his party waned in the last elections because Jacob Zuma was ANC president – a situation which fuelled a rise of Zulu nationalism among IFP supporters, who became convinced that it was their turn to govern the country.

In an interview with City Press on Friday, Buthelezi spoke about how Zuma’s leadership of the ANC affected support for the IFP, saying that Zulus who deserted the IFP for the Zuma-led ANC were now returning to the party.

The IFP boasted that it welcomed more than 300 members from the ANC in Ward 12 in the Umzumbe Local Municipality last week.

But IFP secretary-general Velenkosini Hlabisa downplayed the Zuma factor, saying voters had rejoined the IFP because they were concerned about poor service delivery.

Buthelezi insisted that those who had defected to the ANC did so purely on ethnic grounds.

“Those who did so were completely basing that on ethnicity, saying: ‘Maybe it is the turn of the Zulus to have a head of state.’ Some people even in the IFP where talking about this. There was a false thing that a ‘Xhosa nostra’ was dominating in government.

“I was in the Cabinet for 10 years and it was not true that it was dominated by Xhosas,” said the former home affairs minister.

However, he was diplomatic when asked whether the IFP would do better in KwaZulu-Natal in the election now that Zuma was no longer at the helm of the ANC.

“I never hold an attitude like that in any election. In my life, even when I wrote exams, I never knew beforehand that I was going to pass. We have been doing very well in the by-elections in KwaZulu-Natal.”

He said the IFP had kept winning in Nkandla, Zuma’s home village, even during Zuma’s presidency.

Asked if he would retire after elections, Buthelezi said he had handed in his resignation letter “over and over” again.

“But because my party had problems … I could not allow my legacy to go to pieces merely because I am looking after my own comfort and interest. This time, in fact, I did not expect to lead this election. What happened is that people were not setting up branches and some branches were bogus ones. In October 2017, all structures of the party identified someone to whom I should hand over the baton.”

IFP structures have nominated Hlabisa to lead the party when Buthelezi, who is 90 years old, retires.

Buthelezi believes that the IFP has a future without him.

“The IFP is very strong. I do not see why people should say the party cannot survive without me. As far as I am concerned, the IFP will exist post-Buthelezi. The people of my generation are no longer in the IFP. They have died, and so on.”

His remarks fly in the face of fears that the IFP, which he has led since its inception in 1975, will not survive without him.

But Buthelezi insisted that “young people who have joined the IFP will ensure its continuation”.

“The people who fill up the stadiums predominantly when we launch our manifesto are young people. That assures the continuation of the IFP.”

The formation of the National Freedom Party by the IFP’s former branch chairperson, Zanele kaMagwaza-Msibi, in 2011, and internal divisions within the IFP, have also harmed the party.

The IFP – the fourth-largest party – received 2.40% of the national vote in the 2014 general elections. In KwaZulu-Natal, it got a mere 10.86%, compared with the ANC’s 64.52%.

Buthelezi accused the ANC of orchestrating the downfall of the IFP, saying the appointment of kaMagwaza-Msibi as deputy minister of science and technology was proof.

He blamed the political violence that continues to rage in KwaZulu-Natal on the ANC’s “people’s war” strategy – defined as a strategy of long-term armed revolutionary struggle.

“I think the tragedy was the introduction of the people’s war by the ANC. Senior leaders of the ANC went to Vietman to study the format of a people’s war. It was supposed to be unleashed against the white minority in this country, but instead, it was unleashed against other black people.

“They decided to opt for the armed struggle. Unfortunately, that armed struggle was unleashed against other black people. When the ANC decided that they wanted to make the country and townships ungovernable, I quipped and said: ‘If we do that, these townships and the country will be ungovernable even when we ourselves are in charge.’ There are more than 10 cases where the ANC is against the ANC. It is no longer a question of the ANC and the IFP.”

Last week, members of the task team set up to investigate political killings in KwaZulu-Natal arrested Mluleki Ndobe, the mayor of Harry Gwala District Municipality, and others in connection with the murder of former ANC Youth League secretary-general Sindiso Magaqa.

The IFP has battled to gain traction in Gauteng, which Buthelezi attributed to a lack of funds.

It has one seat in the Gauteng legislature.

“Money is the milk of politics. We have heard how other people are succeeding. They are looting everything. We do not have that kind of money. Without money you cannot make much headway. You need to publish posters. Because we are not corrupt, we have no access to that kind of money. That is the reason.”

He cited the R500 000 donation that Bosasa paid to fund President Cyril Ramaphosa’s ANC leadership campaign in 2017 as proof that the party was corrupt.

Regarding the IFP’s push for a discussion on the return of the death penalty, Buthelezi said he was not trying to please anyone because he has never been a populist politician.

“Because of the high crime in the country, we say the issue should be debated. We are not saying that it should be done. Maybe I am worried more than you about the crime in the country. I am not trying to please anyone. It has never been my politics to please. I have never been a populist politician.”