Inkatha leadership election in the balance

THE IFP is likely to defer its leadership elections set for July 23 because of serious ructions in the party, analysts said yesterday.

"The conference is likely to be deferred because the issue of succession has not been dealt with and also because of serious divisions," said political analyst Somadoda Fikeni.

The contest for the IFP presidency between the party's secretary Musa Zondi and the national chairperson Zanele Magwaza-Msibi is at issue.

IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi has summoned all IFP structures to Ulundi this weekend to discuss the issue of tensions in the party ahead of the conference.

Some IFP members concur with Fikeni that a decision is likely to be taken at the weekend for the conference to be made non-elective, thus allowing Buthelezi to continue as a leader to avoid divisions ahead of the local elections.

The IFP national council has already urged Buthelezi to remain the "unifying leader of the IFP and to ensure a smooth and democratic succession transition when the time is ripe".

The call for Buthelezi to continue showed that the party could not survive without him, said another political analyst Zakhele Ndlovu.

Buthelezi has held the position since the 1970s, when the party was formed.

He said neither Magwaza-Msibi nor Zondi had qualities to lead the IFP.

"Zondi is not a charismatic leader. The IFP is struggling in terms of support and it needs a charismatic leader who will change the situation around," Ndlovu said.

"I don't think the IFP is ready to have a female leader," he said.

Fikeni said divisions in the IFP would continue, even if the conference was deferred, as long as the issue of succession was not dealt with satisfactory.

They would also continue if the party was not repositioned to attract voters, he said.