The outgoing Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi says he’s ready to pass the baton to the younger generation.

IFP is holding its 35th National Elective Conference in Ulundi, northern KwaZulu-Natal, this weekend.

Party secretary-general Velenkosini Hlabisa is tipped to succeed Buthelezi. The former president of the National Teachers’ Union Siphosethu Ngcobo is tipped to be elected secretary-general of the party. Buthelezi believes the incoming leadership will be able to grow the IFP.

Buthelezi has described the former party national chairperson Dr Ziba Jiyane as an opportunist who is jostling for positions. Jiyane, who left the IFP in 2005, wants to contest the position of IFP president.

When Jiyane parted ways with the IFP in 2005, he allegedly claimed that there was no democracy in the party. Buthelezi says such people are not good for the IFP.

“This man is very educated, he knows what he’s doing can only be disruptive. Even now he is saying publicly, as we speak, he says there are people in the party who want him because there is no democracy in the party which means he’s still bad mouthing the IFP. He wants to come to us but at the same time he still bad mouths the IFP by saying there is no democracy, he will bring in democracy. He’s been to so many parties, he even formed his own and they took it from him and so on. He hasn’t proven that he can lead in any party,” says Buthelezi.

In 2017, the party’s National Council nominated Buthelezi’s preferred successor, Velenkosi Hlabisa.

His name was also endorsed by Buthelezi. Other names tipped for senior positions include that of former NATU President Siphosethu Ngcobo, who is contesting the position of Secretary-General.

Former Women’s Brigade Chairperson, Thembeni Madlopha-Mthethwa, is likely to be the only woman in the top structure. She has been nominated for the position of Deputy Chair. The conference ends on Sunday.

The party was founded in 1975. Its president Buthelezi has been at the helm since its inception. Over 4 500 delegates are expected to attend.