Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi's announcement that he will retire as IFP president has raised concerns about the party's future and also left its senior members resembling rabbits scurrying from the glare of car headlights.
But what led to the situation that the IFP finds itself in today? The reluctance of its structures to accept the chief's intended retirement.
Had the chief listened and applied his mind to suggestions by its youth brigade a few years ago to have a deputy, people would not be asking questions about a potential leader and the future of the IFP.
Who can forget the day when youth brigade leaders were paraded in front of the chief and forced to apologise for suggesting a deputy after he asked: "Who said I am going to die?".
Over the years, while obsessed with being the face of the IFP, Buthelezi inevitably created a situation whereby the IFP would die without him at the helm. He ran the IFP like a spaza shop, with his one-man ideology. Instead of promoting and imparting leadership skills, he turned close confidantes into spineless yes-men and women. No wonder they are so reluctant to see him go.
The IFP's future is bleak. Without Buthelezi, it will die. Given its questionable role during apartheid, it is no coincidence that, as with the Nationalist Party, it will cease to exist. There is no place for the IFP in a democracy.
Gcinani Mlindile Ndaba,