Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) President Mangosuthu Buthelezi says challenging issues in the party had prevented him from stepping down as leader. The party is set to elect a new president at its national elective conference in Ulundi in the north of KwaZulu-Natal this weekend.

Over 4 500 delegates are expected to attend the conference which is said to be strategically positioned for the party to also pay tribute to Buthelezi.

Buthelezi says he is happy with the party’s current progress.

“ Actually I wanted to retire many years ago as long ago as 2009, I wanted to retire but there was challenges in the party. The party then requested me to continue because there were crucial challenges they wanted me to tackle together with me leading the party,” says Buthelezi.

Since inception in 1975,  Buthelezi has been at the helm of the party.

The conference has been hailed as a watershed conference for the party.  That will not only usher in a new leadership but also serve as a platform for discussions on policy.  The national conference was last held in 2012 and has since been delayed due to numerous challenges  – factional battles and bogus branches, among other issues.

WATCH EXCLUSIVE SABC NEWS INTERVIEW WITH BUTHELEZI BELOW: