Inkatha Freedom Party
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Inkatha Freedom Party

Inkatha Freedom Party
PresidentVelenkosini Hlabisa
ChairpersonMB Gwala
Siphosethu Ngcobo
SpokespersonMkhuleko Hlengwa
Deputy PresidentMzamo Buthelezi
Deputy Secretary GeneralAlbert Mncwango
Treasurer GeneralNarend Singh
Deputy ChairpersonThembeni Madlopha-Mthethwa
FounderMangosuthu Buthelezi
Founded21 March 1975 (1975-03-21)
Headquarters2 Durban Club Place
Student wingSouth African Democratic Students Movement
Economic liberalism
Political positionRight-wing
Continental affiliationDemocrat Union of Africa
National Assembly seats
NCOP seats
Provincial Legislatures
Party flag
Flag of the Inkatha Freedom Party.svg

The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) is a political party in South Africa. The party has been led by Velenkosini Hlabisa since the party's 2019 National General Conference. Mangosuthu Buthelezi founded the party in 1975 and led it until 2019. The IFP is currently the fourth largest party in the National Assembly of South Africa, in 2014 yielding third place to the Economic Freedom Fighters, formed in 2013.[1][2]


Policy proposals of the IFP include:

  • Devolution of power to provincial governments
  • Introduction of a parliamentary - instead of presidential - system of government
  • Liberalisation of trade
  • Lower income taxes
  • More flexible labour laws
  • Autonomy for traditional African communities and their leaders
  • Allowing traditional authorities to exercise local government functions
  • Opposing the notion that tribalism is inherently regressive and antithetic to development and progress.

In 2018, the Party issued an official statement, penned by party MP, Narend Singh, stating that the time had come to discuss the possibility of reinstating the death penalty in South Africa.[3]


Gatsha Mangosuthu Buthelezi, a former member of the ANC Youth League, founded the Inkatha National Cultural Liberation Movement (INCLM) on 21 March 1975. In 1994 the name was changed to Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP). Buthelezi used a structure rooted in Inkatha (meaning "crown" in Zulu), a 1920s cultural organisation for Zulus established by his uncle Zulu King Solomon kaDinuzulu. The party was established in what is now KwaZulu-Natal, after which branches of the party quickly sprang up in the Transvaal, the Orange Free State and the Western Cape.

Because of Buthelezi's former position in the African National Congress, the two organisations were initially very close and each supported the other in the anti-apartheid struggle. However, by the early 1980s the Inkatha had come to be regarded as a thorn in the side of the ANC, which wielded much more political force through the United Democratic Front (UDF), than Inkatha and the Pan Africanist Congress. Although the Inkatha leadership initially favoured non-violence, there is clear evidence that during the time that negotiations were taking place in the early 1990s, Inkatha and ANC members were at war with each other, and Self-Protection Units (SPUs) and Self-Defence Units (SDUs) were formed, respectively, as their protection forces.

As a Homeland leader, the power of Buthelezi depended on the South African state and economy. With anti-apartheid leaders inside South Africa and abroad demanding sanctions, Buthelezi came to be regarded more and more as a government puppet, along with other Bantustan leaders. His tribal loyalties and focus on ethnic interests over national unity were also criticised as contributing to the divisive programme of Inkatha. This led to a virtual civil war between Zulu loyalist supporters and ANC members in KwaZulu-Natal.

Fearing an erosion of his power, Buthelezi collaborated with the South African Defence Force and received military training for Zulu militia from SADF special forces starting in the 1980s as part of Operation Marion. Inkatha members were involved in several massacres in the run-up to South Africa's first democratic elections, including the Trust Feed massacre on December 3, 1988 and the Boipatong massacre on June 17, 1992. [4]

During the phase of establishing a constitution for South Africa and prior to the first free elections in South African history, bloodshed frequently occurred between Inkatha and the ANC. Both Inkatha and ANC attempted to campaign in each other's KwaZulu-Natal strongholds, and were met with resistance, sometimes violent, by members of the opposing party. Inkatha was also initially opposed to parts of the proposed South African constitution regarding the internal politics of KwaZulu, and, in particular, they campaigned for an autonomous and sovereign Zulu king, (King Goodwill Zwelethini kaBhekuzulu), as head of state. As a result, Inkatha abstained from registering its party for the 1994 election (a necessity in order to receive votes), in opposition. However, once it became obvious that its efforts were not going to stop the election (Inkatha desired goal), the party was registered as the Inkatha Freedom Party at the eleventh hour. However, due to their opposition to the constitution, concessions were made and KwaZulu-Natal (and thus all the other provinces) were granted double ballots for provincial and national legislatures, greater provincial powers, the inclusion of 'KwaZulu' in the official name of the province (formerly 'Natal') and recognition of specific ethnic and tribal groups within the province.

On election day, the IFP displayed its political strength by taking the majority of the votes for KwaZulu-Natal.

Post-apartheid politics

After the dismantling of apartheid system in 1994, the IFCP formed an uneasy coalition in the national government with their traditional political rival, the ANC. This coalition was to last until 2004, when the IFP joined the opposition benches.

The ANC/IFP rivalry, characterised by sporadic acts of political violence, has been firm since 1993. In 2004, while campaigning in Vulindlela, an IFP bastion in the Pietermaritzburg Midlands region, Thabo Mbeki was reportedly debarred by an IFP-affiliated traditional leader in Mafunze. Previously the stronghold of Moses Mabhida, this area has long been the site of heated clashes between the parties.[5]

The IFP's manifesto seeks the resolution to a number of South African issues, especially the AIDS crisis, in addition to addressing "unemployment, crime, poverty and corruption and prevent the consolidation of a one-party state"[6] The "prevention of a one-party state" is with regards to the ruling ANC, which is perceived by many[who?] as making efforts to undemocratically consolidate power for their own party. The IFP also states that "Our proposals are designed to give people control over their lives: a hand up, not a hand down. Social justice for all. We also have the political will to deal effectively with these problems."

Gavin Woods report

Gavin Woods, one of the party's most respected MPs, drew up a highly critical 11 page internal discussion document[7] at the request of the parliamentary caucus after a discussion in October 2004. In it he said that the IFP "has no discernible vision, mission or philosophical base, no clear national ambitions or direction, no articulated ideological basis and offers little in the way of current, vibrant original and relevant policies". Woods also warned the party that "it must treat Buthelezi as the leader of a political party and not the political party itself". Woods pinpointed 1987 as the year when the IFP started losing ground as a political force. Before 1987, Woods contends, the party had a strong, unambiguous national identity. He further criticized the IFP's inability to end the ANC's campaign of violence against it, and an "impotent" attitude towards the attacks conducted against it by the ANC.

At the first caucus discussion, Woods read out the 11-page paper in full and caucus members were generally positive about its frank nature. IFP president Mangosuthu Buthelezi was absent from that meeting but raised it at a meeting of the party's national council, which Woods did not attend. At a subsequent caucus meeting where both were present, Buthelezi read from a prepared statement attacking Woods. All the numbered copies were ordered to be "shredded" but some survived.



Proportion of votes cast for the IFP in the 2009 election, by ward.

Political violence

The IFP's build-up to the 2009 general elections was marked by a resurgence in its long-standing feud with the ANC, which had decided to adopt more aggressively violent campaigning tactics in Natal. The IFP election manifesto was accordingly sharply critical of the ruling party, its policies and its executive, with the Zimbabwean crisis, and the shoddy mediation of the ANC and the Southern African Development Community (SADC), drawing peculiar attention. In a press statement dated 26 January, party official Ben Skosana wrote,

SADC leadership including President Motlanthe may have to face the reality that ZANU PF military and Police may be playing a much stronger role than the politicians in this crisis and need to engage them in the negotiations for the future of Zimbabwe.[8]

There were frequent bouts of electoral violence by the ANC against the IFP in the build-up to the polls, particularly in Natal. On 8 April, at 21:16, the IFP issued a press statement accusing ANC members of assaulting Zanele kaMagwaza-Msibi, its Natal Premier candidate and National Chairperson, in the Gamalakhe township of Port Shepstone, a historical melting pot for IFP-ANC tensions. The incident began, according to the report, when some fifty ANC backers, in flagrant contravention of the Electoral Code of Conduct, disrupted an official IFP event and hurled abuse at the party's representatives and supporters. The report added that the South African Police Service had to be called in to escort the dignitaries out of harm's away.[9]

This event, whether it happened or not, followed a similar disruption by ANC supporters - IFP provincial secretary Bonginkosi Buthelezi put their number at more than 500[10] - in Greytown the previous Sunday, when they barricaded a road leading into the Nhlakanhle township and stoned IFP motor vehicles. Injuries were sustained by, among others, the Mayor of the Umzinyathi District Municipality, Mbangiseni Yengwa. The IFP reported both incidents to the SAPS and Independent Electoral Commission, accusing the ruling party of intimidation, assault and denying it its right to campaign freely, and expected "exemplary" action to be taken.[10]

According to Bonginkosi Buthelezi, the stoning happened in full view of the police, who failed in their duty to restore order. He added that the ANC members concerned had defied their own party leadership, claiming that the ANC regional chairperson in the Bhambatha area, Philani Mavundla, had made a failed attempt to reign in the crowd. "An impasse followed and lasted approximately two hours. Having been abandoned by the SAPS, the IFP delegation dispersed and found its way out of the ambush on its own," he added.[11] The IFP also laid charges of malicious damage to private property and public violence at the Greytown police station. Police spokesperson Superintendent Sipho Maphalala confirmed the incident: "The case was opened and we are investigating."[11]

IEC spokesperson Mawethu Mosery said that the IEC was deeply concerned at the increased violence and intimidation, and hoped that the parties would seek means of politically tolerant electioneering in the build-up to the elections. "The IFP reported the incident, and we will look into the matter. Political parties need to be aware that intimidation does not help them to retain votes they have in particular area [sic], nor get new ones. It just doesn't work like that," he said.[11]

Fraud charges at uMhlabuyalingana

On 9 April, the IFP reacted with alarm to reports that its uMhlabuyalingana Local Municipality had accumulated unaccounted-for monies of some R3,000,000. It promised to react strongly, and called for a forensic audit. "Our party will get to the bottom of this," said Professor Themba Msimang, chairman of its Policy Oversight Committee (POC), "and, if heads have to roll, so be it: they will."[12]

Final drive

Mangosuthu Buthelezi and KaMagwaza-Msibi hosted the party's final pre-election news conference on Tuesday, 14 April, at Northwood Crusaders Sports Club, Durban North, where they adumbrated their ten-point plan for the party's first 100 days back in provincial power. Also launched was the SIZONQOBA campaign, the IFP's final election drive for the province.[13]

Worst-ever performance

The IFP performed unprecedentedly poorly at the polls, taking just 4.55 percent of the national vote and coming nowhere near victory in Natal. This prompted widespread speculation in the media that its days as a political force were numbered. Cartoonist Zapiro lampooned Buthelezi with the tag "just about finished",[14] while other reports had it that KaMagwaza-Msibi was suffering ill health.[]

Post-election efforts

On 3 May, in a bid to address its problems and dispel media rumours about the well-being of its national chairperson, the IFP announced that KaMagwaza-Msibi would host several post-election rallies in addition to the many public meetings she is already chairing across Natal to thank all those who voted IFP. As of 3 May, her itinerary had covered Zululand, Amajuba and eThekwini.

The IFP also announced that, rather than lead the party as official opposition in the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature, KaMagwaza-Msibi had opted to stay on as Mayor of the Zululand District Municipality as part of efforts to revive the IFP's grassroots support ahead of the 2011 local government elections. "The party's post-election priority is the need to accelerate service delivery at local level rather than play opposition politics," she announced after consulting at length with the party's internal structures.[15]

Election results

National elections

Election Total votes Share of vote Seats +/- Government
1994 2,058,294 10.54%
- Government of National Unity
1999 1,371,477 8.58%
Decrease 9 First Cabinet of Thabo Mbeki
2004 1,088,664 6.97%
Decrease 6 in opposition
2009 804,260 4.55%
Decrease 10 in opposition
2014[16] 441,854 2.40%
Decrease 8 in opposition
2019 588,839 3.38%
Increase 4 in opposition

Provincial elections

Election[16][17] Eastern Cape Free State Gauteng Kwazulu-Natal Limpopo Mpumalanga North-West Northern Cape Western Cape
% Seats % Seats % Seats % Seats % Seats % Seats % Seats % Seats % Seats
1994 0.17% 0/56 0.51% 0/30 3.66% 3/86 50.32% 41/81 0.12% 0/40 1.52% 0/30 0.38% 0/30 0.42% 0/30 0.35% 0/42
1999 0.33% 0/63 0.47% 0/30 3.51% 3/73 41.90% 34/80 0.34% 0/49 1.41% 0/30 0.52% 0/33 0.53% 0/30 0.18% 0/42
2004 0.20% 0/63 0.35% 0/30 2.51% 2/73 36.82% 30/80 N/A N/A 0.96% 0/30 0.25% 0/33 0.24% 0/30 0.14% 0/42
2009 0.10% 0/63 0.22% 0/30 1.49% 1/73 22.40% 18/80 0.06% 0/49 0.50% 0/30 0.15% 0/33 0.19% 0/30 0.06% 0/42
2014 0.06% 0/63 0.11% 0/30 0.78% 1/73 10.86% 9/80 0.08% 0/49 0.26% 0/30 0.14% 0/33 0.06% 0/30 0.05% 0/42
2019 0.05% 0/63 0.08% 0/30 0.89% 1/73 16.34% 13/80 0.05% 0/49 0.31% 0/30 0.08% 0/33 - - 0.03% 0/42

KwaZulu-Natal provincial elections

Election Votes % Seats
1994 1,844,070 50.32 41
1999 1,241,522 41.90 34
2004 1,009,267 36.82 30
2009 780,027 22.40 18
2014[16] 416,496 10.86 9
2019 588,046 16.34 13

Municipal elections

Election Votes %
1995-96 757,704 8.7%
2000 9.1%
2006 2,120,142 8.1%
2011 954,021 3.6%
2016[18] 1,823,382 4.73%

See also


  1. ^ "IFP elects Velenkosini Hlabisa as new leader after 44 years of Buthelezi". The Citizen. 25 August 2019. Retrieved 2019.
  2. ^ "Velenkosini Hlabisa takes baton from Mangosuthu Buthelezi as IFP president". SowetanLIVE. 25 August 2019. Retrieved 2019.
  3. ^
  4. ^ Zuma and Zulu nationalism: A response to Gumede
  5. ^ Olifant and Khumalo 2009.
  6. ^ IFP official website
  7. ^ "IFP has 'no mission, no vision'". Archived from the original on 21 February 2009. Retrieved 2008.
  8. ^ Skosana 2009.
  9. ^ IFP "ANC Members Attack IFP Premier Candidate in Port Shepstone" (IFP Press Release 2009).
  10. ^ a b Mbuyazi 2009.
  11. ^ a b c Quoted in Mbuyazi 2009.
  12. ^ IFP "IFP Calls for Forensic Audit into uMhlabuyalingana Municipality." 2009.
  13. ^ IFP. "IFP to Outline Plans for First 100 Days in Power in KZN" 2009.
  14. ^ Zapiro 2009.
  15. ^ IFP "IFP National Chair to Hold More Post-Election Rallies" 2009.
  16. ^ a b c "2014 National and Provincial Elections Results - 2014 National and Provincial Election Results". IEC. Archived from the original on 10 May 2014. Retrieved 2014.
  17. ^ "Results Dashboard". Retrieved 2019.
  18. ^ "Results Summary - All Ballots" (PDF). Retrieved 2016.


External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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