'Buthelezi will lead until we say otherwise'

The IFP has denied that its national chairperson Zanele Magwaza-Msibi and general secretary Musa Zondi have been forced to withdraw their names from possible nominations to replace party leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi.

Buthelezi, who has led the party since its inception in 1975, will go down in history as the longest party president.

And if statements by NEC members are anything to go by, then he is likely to continue even after next year's much-anticipated annual general conference in April.

NEC member and KwaZulu-Natal deputy chairperson Blessed Gwala, and national deputy spokesperson Thulasizwe Buthelezi, were at pains yesterday to explain why Magwaza-Msibi and Zondi were backtracking from their earlier statements that they would avail themselves for the contest against Buthelezi.

They also denied that the conference had been postponed, though it should have been held in July.

"The conference was not postponed as it was only after the weekend's national council meeting that the date was set," Buthelezi said.

"The president, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi is still our leader, so the talk of the presidency is premature.

"Buthelezi will lead us until the leadership pronounces otherwise.

"On two occasions, in 2004 and 2006, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi indicated his intention to retire but remained in his leadership position at the unanimous insistence of the conference.

"Prince Buthelezi has now been urged to remain the unifying leader of the party and to ensure a smooth and democratic succession when the time is ripe," Gwala said.

Meanwhile, Ntuthuko Majozi was elected the new national chairperson of the South African Democratic Students Movement at the weekend.