The outgoing Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) delegates, attending the party’s national elective conference in uLundi, northern KwaZulu-Natal, say the news of the party leader stepping down has left them emotional.

Mangosuthu Buthelezi has announced that he will step during to allow the younger generation to take over.

Buthelezi has been at the helm of the party for 44 years.

Delegates say they are also pleased that the party’s secretary-general Velenkosini Hlabisa might succeed Buthelezi. They have described Hlabisa as a humble man who has proved to be a credible.

“It’s painful because all of us we will always need him, but due to the circumstances he will not be. We believe he will also give domestic advise to us as the young people of the party. So we really appreciate the contribution that he has made for the past 44 year and we pretty sure that he will always guide us.”

Buthelezi believes the incoming leadership will be able to grow the IFP.

“This weekend the rank and file of the IFP will elect the president, deputy president, but this conference is different. It is accompanied by unprecedented hype and speculation, because in this conference Buthelezi will step down. This is a different moment I understand why it feels like a big moment. The story of the IFP is deeply intertwined with the story of Buthelezi. I started this party in 1975 yet I have never served alone. This party is bigger than Buthelezi it has a future beyond my own,” explains Buthelezi.