Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) leader, Mangosuthu Buthelezi, has dismissed as unfounded speculation that he personally handpicked his tipped successor, Velenkosini Hlabisa.

Buthelezi spoke to the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) in an exclusive interview ahead of the weekend’s party national conference.

Meanwhile, the former party national chairperson Dr Ziba Jiyane, who left the IFP after relations with the party leadership soured in 2005, now wants to contest the position of party president.

When Jiyane left, he allegedly described the IFP as a party in which democracy did not exist.

Buthelezi maintains the IFP’s National Executive Committee nominated Hlabisa and that he had nothing to do with the nomination.

“I didn’t hand pick him. He was chosen by the party, suggested by senior members of the NEC not myself. But I approve of him, I endorse his choice. But people were lying about this to damage my image that I dictate, when in fact, this thing was unanimous.”

Watch the full exclusive interview with the SABC: