IFP youth in revolt

The aftershocks of the IFP’s dismal showing in the general election are still reverberating through the party, sparking an apparent insurrection by its youth wing.

After the IFP’s showing—22.4% of the votes in its KwaZulu-Natal stronghold and 4.5% nationally—the IFP Youth Brigade has called vociferously for change.

Sikhumbuzo Khanyeza, KwaZulu-Natal youth brigade chairperson, said: “After the elections we called provincial executive council meetings, which included branches and districts, and the people were vocal. The party needs change and new leadership. This leadership cannot take us to the next elections.”

Khanyeza said he did not want to “individualise” the call for change, which was needed “all the way up to the IFP’s national council”.

There was also a need to “reshape the party” and create a position of deputy president, while giving more autonomy to the IFP’s youth and women’s wings, neither of which had its own constitution.

“We’re going to lobby each and every IFP member in the build-up to the national elective conference [expected in July],” said Khanyeza, who declined to name potential candidates.

He criticised the party’s national and provincial parliamentary deployment of members as “unrepresentative. There are not enough youth representatives and the list committee was made up of people with an interest in going to Parliament,” he said.

Citing the IFP leadership’s unilateral decision to make last year’s youth brigade conference non-elective, Khanyeza said the party’s senior leaders had been too prescriptive and interventionist and there was a need to devolve power.

He criticised the state of the party and the manner in which the election campaign was run, especially in relation to the youth vote. “During the election campaign it became apparent that our councillors are not working and responding to the needs of the people on the ground and the leadership has not done enough about this,” he said.

“The youth brigade did not have a budget for this election, or its own programme targeted at tertiary institutions. If we did, I believe the picture after the election would have been very different,” he said.

His sentiments were echoed by Thabo Xaba, president of the IFP’s student wing, Sadesmo: “The manner in which we articulated ourselves and presented and projected our party to the youth was all wrong. We need new blood and fresh ideas.” Xaba said that leadership required “minor changes”.

And secretary general Musa Zondi said the election result was the reason the IFP had declined President Jacob Zuma’s offer of two deputy ministerial positions in Cabinet.

“The IFP looked at our own priorities, especially in relation to the outcome of the election and we felt that we needed to concentrate on preparing for the local government elections in 2011 and the next general elections in 2014,” he said.

Zondi said that in light of the examination and rebuilding exercise from branches upwards, the party “could not afford to send people to Cabinet”.

He denied speculation that the IFP had refused two unspecified posts because its president, Mangosuthu Buthelezi, was not offered a ministerial position.

Buthelezi served as home affairs minister in two governments before the IFP refused former president Thabo Mbeki’s offer of two deputy ministerial positions after the 2004 election.

Niren Tolsi

Niren Tolsi

Niren Tolsi is a freelance journalist.His areas of interest include social justice; citizen mobilisation and state violence; protest; the constitution and the constitutional court and football. Read more from Niren Tolsi

Client Media Releases

Utility outages: looking at the big picture
UKZN scientists get L'Or'eal-UNESCO Women in Science grants
Springbok-mania hits MTN head office
Optimise your SMS campaigns this Black Friday