Politics editor
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IFP president Hlabisa joins National Assembly

By Clive Ndou

The decision to shift Hlabisa was made during Monday's IFP national executive committee (NEC).

IFP leader Velenkosini Hlabisa.
IFP leader Velenkosini Hlabisa.

The IFP has redeployed the party’s president Velenkosini Hlabisa, who was also their KwaZulu-Natal caucus leader, to the National Assembly to fill the vacancy created by the death of party founder Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi.

The decision to shift Hlabisa, whose duties at the KZN Legislature caucus will be taken over by the party’s provincial legislature chief whip Blessed Gwala, was made during Monday’s IFP national executive committee (NEC).

These appointments are effective immediately, and the IEC and the National Assembly of Parliament will facilitate the necessary administrative processes with the party.

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Hlabisa, who was elected IFP president in 2019 following Buthelezi’s decision to step down as party leader, played a critical role in the IFP’s resurgence in KZN following a decline brought about by the 2011 split which saw the party’s national chairperson Zanele kaMagwaza-Msibi launching a rival organisation, the NFP.

“The IFP reiterates its confidence in president Hlabisa and wishes him well in his responsibilities as the IFP parliamentary leader,” the IFP said.

The IFP president’s move to the National Assembly created an opportunity for the IFP to bring back the party’s former secretary general, Reverend Musa Zondi, from retirement.

Zondi, who at one point was the deputy minister of Public Works, will join the IFP KZN Legislature Caucus as an MPL.

Currently the spokesperson of the Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi Foundation, Zondi at one point was tipped to succeed Buthelezi.

However, following the eruption of a succession battle in the party, Zondi in 2012 announced his retirement from active politics.

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The changes made by the IFP leadership also resulted in the elevation of the party’s Women’s Brigade deputy chairperson, Thembeni kaMadlopha-Mthethwa, who will assume the role of IFP provincial legislature caucus chief whip.

The NEC has taken these decisions consistent with the party’s smooth leadership transition and believes that these changes will take forward the legacy and life’s work of Prince Buthelezi, entrench party unity, and consolidate the IFP’s onward march to the 2024 national and provincial elections.

The IFP, which in the 2021 municipal elections took over control of some of KZN municipalities previously under the control of the ANC, is currently in talks with the DA as part of plans to form a united front against the ruling party in next year’s general elections.

While the DA and IFP coalition is unlikely to get a 50+1 support in the national elections, some political analysts believe the DA/IFP coalition stands a chance to dislodge the ANC from power in KZN.