/ 26 May 2009

IFP youth stand their ground

The IFP Youth Brigade leaders in KwaZulu-Natal who have called for an infusion of new blood into the party’s leadership have started naming those they believe need to be culled.

If successful, their bid could see the recall of several senior leaders from both national and provincial parliaments.

Youth brigade district chairpersons in the province have confirmed to the Mail & Guardian that these include national organiser and MP Albert Mncwango, youth brigade national chairperson Pat Lebenya-Ntanzi, who is also an MP; former KwaZulu-Natal premier Lionel Mtshali, who is leader of the official opposition in the provincial legislature; and provincial parliament member SV Naicker.

Speaking to the M&G, KwaZulu-Natal Youth Brigade chair Sikhumbuzo Khanyeza — ostensibly suspended from the party — called for ”wholesale changes in the IFP’s national executive committee and the national council”. But he stopped short of calling for the removal of party president Mangosuthu Buthelezi ”who founded the party and has worked tirelessly for it during the election”.

Durban metro district chair Musi Simelane concurred, saying: ”We need new leaders in various structures — Pat [Lebenya-Ntanzi] is useless. She is the only youth brigade member who is in national Parliament but she does not represent us — she speaks only to appease the elders in the party.”

He added: ”We need to recall all those who lost us the election, from councillors to senior leadership.”

Tensions appear to be rising within the party following its dismal showing at the polls last month. At a special meeting of the IFP’s National Council held last weekend at its head office in Ulundi to hear the youth’s concerns, the KwaZulu-Natal youth brigade’s entire seven-member executive was suspended for ”ill-discipline” and ”bringing the party into disrepute”.

Together with the likes of chairperson Khanyeza and his deputy, Simphiwe Buthelezi, ordinary member Ivan Barnes was also suspended. Barnes was to have stood with Lebenya-Ntanzi for the youth brigade national chair position last year before the party’s senior provincial leadership stepped in and declared the conference non-elective.

It is understood that Barnes has been lobbying for Buthelezi’s removal as party president in favour of new faces.

At the time of going to press however, Khanyeza said neither he nor the other executive members of the youth brigade in the province had received their suspension letters. ”As far as I am concerned I am still leader of the IFP Youth Brigade in the province and we will keep lobbying for change,” he said.

Ilembe District Youth Brigade chair Siphamandla Buthelezi said that none of the other districts recognised the suspension of the provincial leaders. ”These leaders are saying what we are saying, from our branches up, so in effect the national council should suspend all of us,” he said.

Buthelezi, meanwhile, will face another test of his leadership when the position of head of the KwaZulu-Natal House of Traditional Leaders is elected on May 22.

The position became an elected one after the promulgation of the KwaZulu-Natal Traditional Leadership and Governance Act in 2006, and there is widespread speculation that Buthelezi, a former first minister of the erstwhile KwaZulu government, may be unseated by someone aligned to the ANC.