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Mr Sipho Khumalo's article on Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi's speech delivered at the recently-held Sadesmo elective conference titled "Buthelezi's dilemma: go down with the sinking ship, or jump ship" (Mercury: 08 August 2011) warrants a response.
The headline itself is misleading and deserves criticism. In his speech to the delegates at this conference, the IFP President said, "that is why we have seen some of our unprincipled tenderpreneurs leaving the IFP like rats who think the ship is sinking." It is clear from this statement that it is the IFP's detractors that believe it is a sinking ship, not Buthelezi himself. The headline speaks to the Mercury now donning a different cap - that of being IFP critics and political analysts, instead of being responsible journalists.
It is difficult to comprehend how the IFP's detractors can continue to label the IFP as a sinking ship when the Party has just reclaimed its position as the third largest party in the country; while it continues to draw large crowds at rallies and while its student-wing Sadesmo is going from strength to strength. Surely these are the hallmarks of any healthy political organization, which belies the Mercury's headline to the contrary.
In response to Prince Buthelezi's remarks that the NFP and the ANC have been plotting his downfall since before the formation of the "Friends of VZ", Mr Khumalo reports that the ANC rejected Buthelezi's claims about alleged clandestine meetings to oust him. The ANC spokesman said the governing party rejected the comments and urged Buthelezi "to try to remain relevant".
What utter nonsense. The marriage between the ANC and the NFP after the local government elections tells a different story. We were not surprised by the announcement that the two parties had joined forces to run KwaZulu Natal. This was the plan all along. During the local government election campaign, we repeatedly warned the electorate that a vote for the NFP is a vote for the ANC. The electoral results left the province with 19 hung municipalities because the NFP did what we said they would do; they split the vote. Now it is simply a matter of time before the NFP is swallowed up by the ANC and ceases to exist like countless others before it.
Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi's leadership remains indispensable to the IFP. He will remain valued and relevant as long as he continues to champion multi-party democracy; as long as he continues to warn against the abuses of the ANC, their undemocratic tendencies and their quest for hegemony and a one-party state. The IFP leader has never shied away from tackling the ANC head-on. He has always been a thorn in the ANC's flesh. Former President Nelson Mandela himself admitted in April of 2002, "We have used every ammunition to destroy him, but we failed. And he is still there. He is a formidable survivor. We cannot ignore him."
Just because the ANC has not succeeded in destroying the IFP and its leader, doesn't mean that it is no longer on the agenda.
DR BV MTHETHWA
ACTING NATIONAL CHAIRPERSON OF THE IFP