Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) leader Inkosi Mangosuthu Buthelezi will be the oldest parliamentarian in the 6th parliament. He turns 91 in August.

Buthelezi told the SABC he will step down as IFP president at the party’s elective conference expected to be held in July. He has been at the helm of his party for 44 years.

Buthelezi returns to the National Assembly when it resumes later this month. He’s been a Member of Parliament since 1994. He served as Home Affairs Minister in the government of national unity for two terms.

Buthelezi occasionally acted as State President. It’s during one of these occasions that he deployed the army to Lesotho to stabilise the country after a disputed election result.

Buthelezi argues that he still has a lot to offer, but concerned about the chaotic state and decorum of the House

“The character and the decorum of parliament have changed for what it was in 94 and in recent years. The place has descended to chaos and trading of insults, even the punching each other are all things that are very strange developments,” notes Buthelezi.

Buthelezi says it’s not true that he is clinging into power, adding that his party has invested in the youth.

“It is only fair that we should pass on to them. We should in fact horn their skills so that they can continue to serve the people. Because it’s only right it’s their turn to lead the country.”

Buthelezi was prime minister of the  KwaZulu homeland since 1970. In the 80s and 90s his party was at loggerheads with the African National Congress (ANC) which resulted in violence that left over 20 000 people dead.