The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), led by Mangosuthu Buthelezi, draws its support largely from Zulu-speaking South Africans. Its strongholds are the rural areas of KwaZulu-Natal and the migrant workers’ hostels in the metropolitan areas of Gauteng.

A consistent downward spiral has been the character of the Inkatha Freedom Party in the general elections since 1994. Having amassed 43 seats in the National Assembly and in control of the KwaZulu Natal with 41 seats in the Provincial Legislature, the party’s support has been unfailingly diminishing.

Nine seats were lost in the 1999 elections, with the party winning 34, which was reduced even further to 28 in the 2004 general elections and eventually 18 in 2009.

The political consequences of the 2004 election were profound for the IFP as it found itself out of power in KZN for the first time. In this context, the party threatened to take the IEC to court over alleged election irregularities in KZN. It accused the electoral body of declaring the elections free and fair before it had responded to 42 complaints, most centrally the concern raised over some 371 742 voters who had voted outside the voting district in which they were registered. Although legal in terms of 24(a)of the Electoral Act (an amendment passed in 2003 that allowed voters to cast ballots outside their home districts), the IFP alleged that many of these voters had been bussed in from the Eastern Cape, or illegally registered using IEC registration stickers wrongfully obtained by ANC members.

The IFP believes in integrating traditional leadership into the system of governance by recognising traditional communities as models of societal organisation

It all began in 1975 when Buthelezi found the party. He has led the IFP since he founded it as the Inkatha National Cultural Liberation Movement. His political career dates back to the 1940s, when he joined the ANC Youth League while studying at Fort Hare University.

In 1953 he took up a position as chief of the Buthelezi clan, and in 1970 was appointed head of the KwaZulu Territorial Authority in terms of the apartheid-era Bantu Administration Act. He became the homeland’s chief minister in 1976.

Inkatha was transformed into a political party in July 1990, championing federalism as the best political option for South Africa.
The IFP believes in integrating traditional leadership into the system of governance by recognising traditional communities as models of societal organisation.

In more recent times, the party has been in the news for all the wrong reasons, including the simmering tensions between its aging leader and the lobby within the party (spearheaded by Zanele Magwaza-Msibi) that is calling for younger blood. As a result, party conferences were postponed repeatedly, no less than seven times. Magwaza-Msibi eventually broke away and formed her own political party, the National Freedom Party in February 2011.

This was not the first time the party has witnessed dissatisfaction from within its own ranks. During the September 2005 floor-crossing period, the National Democratic Convention (Nadeco) was formed in after Ziba Jiyane was kicked out of the IFP for having implied its leader Buthelezi was a dictator and did not have a succession plan. In 2008, Jiyane went on to leave Nadeco and form The South African Democratic Congress or Sadeco in 2008. Both parties have since disappeared from the national political terrain.

2014 Elections Manifesto

The IFP launched their 2014 election manifesto on 2 March in Umlazi, Durban. This is a summary of the main points:

In its manifesto, the IFP plans to do the following: Take politics out of service delivery; take quick action against those who do not deliver; and prosecute those accused of corruption and make sure the guilty serve their full sentences.

On corruption

The party plans to investigate all cases of corruption and prosecute the offenders in a specially mandated Corruption Court;

Eradicate tender fraud by giving the National Treasury the means to monitor all supply chain management activities;

Appoint qualified and competent people, regardless of their party affiliation, to head the country’s prosecution and policing agencies; and

On education

Re-focus the curriculum to concentrate on quality and to motivate teachers and children to learn to think and challenge themselves;
Encourage parents to get more involved in their children’s education;

Take politics out of education – learners’ futures should not be compromised by union and governing body politics;

Support each principal’s efforts to hold their teachers accountable and manage their schools honestly and efficiently;

Promote inclusive education;

Support tertiary education by allocating more money for accommodation and scholarships.

On job creation

Balance job creation and job protection by revising the labour laws to allow for more flexibility;

Take politics out of the economy – union politics should not hold South Africa’s economic future to ransom;

Focus on developing skills suitable for today’s job market by funding training programmes, apprenticeships and learnerships;

Create tax incentives and low tax investment zones in rural areas to stimulate growth, jobs and development.

On health

Streamline the policies governing how healthcare is delivered;

Prosecute and punish dishonest behaviour according to the law;

Properly pay doctors and nurses, especially those working in rural areas;

Take politics out of healthcare – party and union politics should not compromise services.

On farming

Use idle farms and financial incentives to encourage new and current farmers to grow cash crops for export;

Commissioning a full-scale land audit to officially determine who owns what;

Use these findings to redistribute State land and to support community projects to farm it commercially;

Recognize white, commercial farmers as citizens with rights and obligations to their land, and urgently address farm attacks;

Protect farm workers and tenants from eviction.

On the judiciary and policing

Prosecute and punish any dishonest behaviour according to the law;

Improving the working conditions for prosecutors, judges and court administrators to boost morale and efficiency;

Appointing senior officers and administrators based on their ability and experience, and regularly review and reward their performance;

Improving the working conditions of police officers; and remunerating them properly;

Overhaul and de-politicise the parole system so that hard-core criminals and those who are politically connected serve their full sentences.– edited by Sipho Kekana

IFP website

– By Southafrica.info