Why I'll be leading the IFP into the elections

Mangosuthu Buthelezi.
Mangosuthu Buthelezi.
Image: Antonio Muchave

I do not need to tell you what a difficult discussion this has been for the IFP's extended national council.

The structures of our party were well aware of my intentions, which I expressed to a meeting of our extended national council in October 2017, and which I made public. My family and I had taken a decision that I would not stand for re-election to the position of party president at the next elective conference of the IFP. My term of office was drawing to a close.

The intention of our party was to convene an elective conference towards the end of 2017, or at least in the early stages of 2018. But we have been afflicted by the same difficulty that plagues every political party at present; the problem of camps.

The IFP has not found itself in the courts, like other parties. But that doesn't mean we have been without problems.

As you know, we had to engage in an intensive process of branch audits to root out bogus branches and ensure that our conference would be attended by credible delegates, properly elected to speak on behalf of our structures.

These preparations took longer than we anticipated, for they were further bedevilled by several cases of our councillors and members being offered bribes.

Nevertheless, throughout the process of preparations, I remained clear in my intentions. I have never changed my mind and I have not changed it now. I will not stand for re-election at our conference. The IFP will elect a new leader.

But the unanimous decision taken today by our extended national council to engage in this election campaign first, before holding conference, carries heavy consequences for me and my family. I have been asked to lead the campaign as the party's president.

I understand the reasoning for wanting to focus on elections right now. The IFP does not have the kind of godfathers that other parties may have, and we know the enormous cost of campaigning. With limited resources and limited time, I understand that elections must take precedence.

Still, it is not easy to accept what is being asked of me.

In consultation with my family, and cognisant of the fact that I remain a servant of my people, I will agree for one simple reason. The elections are little more than 100 days away.

If this is in the best interests of our party and of our country's future, I will not refuse. I have served for a lifetime. If I am asked to take 100 more steps on this journey, I will do so. I will finish this as I started it; in the service of our nation.

I intend to fulfil this responsibility with my utmost commitment, for this is the last part of my journey.

This is an extract of a statement IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi delivered on Sunday in Durban.