'We will choose our own leaders'
Tensions are running high within the IFP Youth Brigade and some members have threatened a revolt if their preferred candidates are prevented from running for the chairmanship of the youth body.
The would-be rebels have accused the IFP national executive committee (NEC) of trying to purge former youth chairman Thulasizwe Buthelezi and controversial former leader of the SA Democratic Students Movement Irvan Barnes.
The NEC is also being accused of asking the two leaders to withdraw from the race because "their campaigns were causing disunity within the IFP".
Buthelezi and Barnes are said to have been urging the youth to vote for them with a promise that they will canvass for change in the IFP leadership.
Buthelezi allegedly wants party general secretary Musa Zondi to take over the presidency, while Barnes believes national chairman Zanele Magwaza-Msibi would make a better leader.
Buthelezi refused to comment but confirmed he "will be a candidate like others at the conference".
Attempts to get comment from Barnes were fruitless.
Zondi, who is also the party's spokesman, said Buthelezi and Barnes were not forced to withdraw their candidacy but volunteered to do so after several discussions with party leaders .
"There have been a number of outstanding issues involving both candidates," Zondi said.
He said there was nothing wrong with Buthelezi and Barnes using the issue of the presidency for lobbying.
"It's not a complicated matter. Candidates have a democratic right to campaign as they please."
Sowetan was inundated with calls from IFP youth yesterday threatening to disrupt the conference that starts in Ulundi today.
More than 3000 youth delegates from 2000 branches are expected to vote for their "favourite youth leader despite the NEC's move".