Inkatha Freedom Party
|Deputy President||Inkosi Buthelezi|
|Deputy Secretary-General||Albert Mncwango|
|Deputy Chairperson||Thembeni Madlopha-Mthethwa|
|Parliamentary leader||Mangosuthu Buthelezi|
|Founded||21 March 1975|
|Headquarters||2 Durban Club Place|
|Student wing||South African Democratic Students Movement|
|Continental affiliation||Democrat Union of Africa|
|International affiliation||International Democrat Union|
|National Assembly seats|
14 / 400
2 / 90
14 / 430
The Inkatha Freedom Party (Zulu: IQembu leNkatha yeNkululeko, IFP) is a political party in South Africa. The party has been led by Velenkosini Hlabisa since the party's 2019 National General Conference. Mangosuthu Buthelezi founded the party in 1975 and led it until 2019. The IFP is currently the fourth largest party in the National Assembly of South Africa, in 2014 yielding third place to the Economic Freedom Fighters, formed in 2013. Although registered as a national party, it has had only minor electoral success outside its home province of KwaZulu-Natal.
Policy proposals of the IFP include:
- Devolution of power to provincial governments
- Making the head of state and head of government posts separate, with a ceremonial figurehead as head of state.
- Mixed-member proportional representation for the National Assembly.
- Liberalisation of trade
- Lower income taxes
- More flexible labour laws
- Autonomy for traditional African communities and their leaders
- Allowing traditional authorities to exercise local government functions
- Opposing the notion that tribalism is inherently regressive and antithetic to development and progress.
Gatsha Mangosuthu Buthelezi, a former member of the ANC Youth League, founded the Inkatha National Cultural Liberation Movement (INCLM) on 21 March 1975. In 1994 the name was changed to Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP). Buthelezi used a structure rooted in Inkatha (meaning "crown" in Zulu), a 1920s cultural organisation for Zulus established by his uncle, Zulu king Solomon kaDinuzulu. The party was established in what is now KwaZulu-Natal, after which branches of the party quickly sprang up in the Transvaal, the Orange Free State and the Western Cape.
Because of Buthelezi's former position in the African National Congress, the two organisations were initially very close and each supported the other in the anti-apartheid struggle. However, by the early 1980s the Inkatha had come to be regarded as a thorn in the side of the ANC, which wielded much more political force through the United Democratic Front (UDF), than Inkatha and the Pan Africanist Congress. Although the Inkatha leadership initially favoured non-violence, there is clear evidence that during the time that negotiations were taking place in the early 1990s, Inkatha and ANC members were at war with each other, and Self-Protection Units (SPUs) and Self-Defence Units (SDUs) were formed, respectively, as their protection forces.
As a Homeland leader, the power of Buthelezi depended on the South African state and economy. With anti-apartheid leaders inside South Africa and abroad demanding sanctions, Buthelezi came to be regarded more and more as a government puppet, along with other Bantustan leaders. His tribal loyalties and focus on ethnic interests over national unity were also criticised as contributing to the divisive programme of Inkatha. This led to a virtual civil war between Zulu loyalist supporters and ANC members in KwaZulu-Natal.
Fearing erosion of his power, Buthelezi collaborated with the South African Defence Force and received military training for Zulu militia from SADF special forces starting in the 1980s as part of Operation Marion. Inkatha members were involved in several massacres in the run-up to South Africa's first democratic elections, including the Trust Feed massacre on 3 December 1988, and the Boipatong massacre on 17 June 1992. In November 1993, the IFP signed a solidarity pact with the Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging, with the AWB providing the IFP with military training and agreeing that "Boer and Zulu would fight together for freedom and land should they be confronted by a common enemy".
During the phase of establishing a constitution for South Africa and prior to the first free elections in South African history, bloodshed frequently occurred between Inkatha and the ANC. Both Inkatha and ANC attempted to campaign in each other's KwaZulu-Natal strongholds and were met with resistance, sometimes violent, by members of the opposing party. Inkatha was also initially opposed to parts of the proposed South African constitution regarding the internal politics of KwaZulu, and, in particular, they campaigned for an autonomous and sovereign Zulu king, (King Goodwill Zwelethini kaBhekuzulu), as head of state. As a result, Inkatha abstained from registering its party for the 1994 election (a necessity in order to receive votes), in opposition. However, once it became obvious that its efforts were not going to stop the election, the party was registered as the Inkatha Freedom Party at the eleventh hour. However, due to their opposition to the constitution, concessions were made and KwaZulu-Natal (and thus all the other provinces) were granted double ballots for provincial and national legislatures, greater provincial powers, the inclusion of 'KwaZulu' in the official name of the province (formerly 'Natal') and recognition of specific ethnic and tribal groups within the province.
After the dismantling of apartheid system in 1994, the IFP formed an uneasy coalition in the national government with their traditional political rival, the ANC. This coalition was to last until 2004, when the IFP joined the opposition benches.
The ANC/IFP rivalry, characterised by sporadic acts of political violence, has been firm since 1993. In 2004, while campaigning in Vulindlela, an IFP bastion in the Pietermaritzburg Midlands region, Thabo Mbeki was reportedly debarred by an IFP-affiliated traditional leader in Mafunze. Previously the stronghold of Moses Mabhida, this area has long been the site of heated clashes between the parties.[full citation needed]
The IFP's manifesto seeks the resolution to a number of South African issues, especially the AIDS crisis, in addition to addressing "unemployment, crime, poverty and corruption and prevent the consolidation of a one-party state" The "prevention of a one-party state" is with regards to the ruling ANC, which is perceived by many[who?] as making efforts to undemocratically consolidate power for their own party. The IFP also states that "Our proposals are designed to give people control over their lives: a hand up, not a hand down. Social justice for all. We also have the political will to deal effectively with these problems."
Gavin Woods report
Gavin Woods, one of the party's most respected MPs, drew up a highly critical 11-page internal discussion document at the request of the parliamentary caucus after a discussion in October 2004. In it, he said that the IFP "has no discernible vision, mission or philosophical base, no clear national ambitions or direction, no articulated ideological basis and offers little in the way of current, vibrant original and relevant policies". Woods also warned the party that "it must treat Buthelezi as the leader of a political party and not the political party itself". Woods pinpointed 1987 as the year when the IFP started losing ground as a political force. Before 1987, Woods contends, the party had a strong, unambiguous national identity. He further criticised the IFP's inability to end the ANC's campaign of violence against it, and an "impotent" attitude towards the attacks conducted against it by the ANC.
At the first caucus discussion, Woods read out the 11-page paper in full and caucus members were generally positive about its frank nature. IFP president Mangosuthu Buthelezi was absent from that meeting but raised it at a meeting of the party's national council, which Woods did not attend. At a subsequent caucus meeting where both were present, Buthelezi read from a prepared statement attacking Woods. All the numbered copies were ordered to be "shredded" but some survived.
After the 1994 elections, the IFP suffered a gradual decline in support. The party ceded control of the KwaZulu-Natal province to the ANC following the 2004 general election and its presence in Northern KwaZulu-Natal, its stronghold, started to become diminished. Party member Ziba Jiyane left the IFP to form the National Democratic Convention (Nadeco). Prominent IFP MP Gavin Woods and IFP ward councillors in KwaZulu-Natal joined his new party.
After the party's results in the 2009 general elections, party members began debating a change in leadership for the 2011 local government elections. Buthelezi had previously announced his retirement but rescinded it. Senior IFP politician Zanele kaMagwaza-Msibi wanted Buthelezi to step down and had supporters advocating for her to take over the party's leadership. She later resigned from the party and formed a breakaway party, the National Freedom Party (NFP). The NFP obtained 2.4% of the national vote and 10.4% in KwaZulu-Natal in the 2011 municipal elections, mainly at the expense of the IFP.
In the 2014 general elections, the party achieved its lowest support levels since 1994. The party lost its status as the official opposition in the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature to the Democratic Alliance. Nationally, the party lost eight seats in the National Assembly. The NFP factor also contributed to the IFP's decline on the national and provincial level.
Buthelezi later said in 2019 that the reason the party had lost support, was because of ANC president Jacob Zuma being from the Zulu tribe. He insisted that the exodus voters leaving the IFP occurred on ethnic grounds.
Resurgence and succession
In the 2016 municipal elections, the party's support grew for the first time since 1994. The party had reclaimed support in Northern KwaZulu-Natal. The ANC and DA both suggested that the NFP not being able to participate in the election, contributed to the party's surge in support. The party managed to retain control of the Nkandla Local Municipality, the residence of former ANC president Jacob Zuma.
In October 2017, Buthelezi announced that he would step down as leader of the IFP at the party's National General Conference in 2019. The party's Extended National Council pledged its support to Velenkosini Hlabisa, mayor of the Big Five Hlabisa Local Municipality, to succeed Buthelezi as party leader. The party grew its support in the May 2019 general elections and won back the title of official opposition in KwaZulu-Natal. Hlabisa became the leader of the opposition in the legislature, as he was the party's premier candidate. Buthelezi confirmed his intention to stand down as leader. Hlabisa was elected president of the IFP at the party's 35th National General Conference in August 2019.
|Election||Total votes||Share of vote||Seats||+/–||Government|
43 / 400
|–||Government of National Unity|
34 / 400
|9||First Cabinet of Thabo Mbeki|
28 / 400
18 / 400
10 / 400
14 / 400
|Election||Eastern Cape||Free State||Gauteng||Kwazulu-Natal||Limpopo||Mpumalanga||North-West||Northern Cape||Western Cape|
KwaZulu-Natal provincial elections
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