IFP NATIONAL chairperson Zanele Magwaza-Msibi has appealed for unity and respect FOR party president Mangosuthu Buthelezi and other senior party leaders.
Magwaza-Msibi told the media yesterday it was important that the party show a united front and focus on the 2011 local government elections, which they want to win.
The IFP has made headlines since the April national elections, in which it fared dismally.
This resulted in some youth members calling for a change of leadership.
As if that was not enough, media reports that there was a rift between Buthelezi and Magwaza-Msibi have surfaced.
This was vehemently denied by the two most senior leaders of the party.
Magwaza-Msibi described reports of irreconcilable splits and suggestions that she had been expelled as "blatant lies".
Her pleas for unity come in the wake of an open revolt by youth and women's brigade members, who called for new blood on Monday.
Support for Magwaza-Msibi to take over from Buthelezi was expressed in placards displayed on Monday during a demonstration outside the party's office in Durban.
One of these said: "Siyabonga Shenge usebenzile, sekuyisikhathi sika Zanele." (Thank you Shenge, you have worked but it's Zanele's time.)
"These stories contain no grain of truth and allegations that I have been expelled from the party are a fabrication by people who do not wish the IFP well.
"Last week, reports of an internal strife in the IFP overshadowed our success in a number of municipal by-elections across KwaZulu-Natal.
"The negative publicity had created a widespread expectation that we were going to lose the by-elections we contested.
"I wish to distance myself from every suggestion that my president and I do not see eye to eye.
"Our relationship continues to be based on mutual respect and trust," she said, adding that supporters should close ranks behind the party leadership.