/ 26 May 2024

IFP’s Velenkosini Hlabisa calls on voters to vote the ANC out of power

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Velenkosini Hlabisa, leader of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), during the party's manifesto launch at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on Sunday, March 10, 2024. Photo: Leon Sadiki/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) president Velenkosini Hlabisa has closed the party’s 2024 election campaign with a show of strength in the party’s final campaign rally — and a call on voters to “use our brains” on 29 May and remove the ANC from power.

He asked the voting public to make these elections “a watershed moment and a turning point away from unemployment, crime, load-shedding, corruption and poor service delivery”.

Thousands of supporters turned out for the party’s final rally, held in a packed regional stadium at uMhlathuze in northern KwaZulu-Natal, one of its strongest bases and which it took back from the ANC in November 2021.

Members of IFP founder Mangosuthu Buthelezi’s family — including his son Zukifa and daughter Phumzile—- also turned out to endorse the campaign with a show of solidarity and a call on voters to help the party’s leadership maintain his legacy.

The election is the first the IFP has fought without Buthelezi at the helm, but he has remained the face of its election posters and material, with Hlabisa’s face representing the IFP on the ballot.

After 20 years, the IFP hopes to remove the ANC from power and regain control over KwaZulu-Natal, either alone or as part of the Multi-Party Charter for South Africa, its coalition with the Democratic Alliance and other parties. 

Hlabisa called on voters to abandon any emotional attachment they might have for the ANC because of its history and judge it on its failure to deliver and descent into corruption.

“I urge you to consider the track record of the IFP against the list of failures the ruling

party has produced,” Hlabisa said. “Let us not vote with our emotions. Let us vote based on facts. Let us vote based on our current realities.”

The “treasure we won in 1994” had been “damaged and pillaged” by “the people named in the Zondo commission, people who sold out South Africa for their personal gain, people who are still sitting in high government positions, people who are standing for election again”.

Hlabisa said the IFP’s policies on ending load-shedding using renewable energy and other sources had found favour with voters, as had its plans to reduce the cost of fuel and to introduce a fixed-term R3 000 a month state grant to graduates to sustain them while they looked for jobs.

Likewise, people — the youth in particular — were in support of the IFP’s plan to reduce the cost of data by 50% and to place them in 12-month paid internships in municipalities, government departments and state entities.

Hlabisa questioned the “sudden and entirely predictable halt to load-shedding” on the eve of the elections, which has seen South Africans go for more than 60 days with no planned outages.

“How, after 17 years of rolling blackouts, can the lights suddenly stay on for two months? And every time we turn on the radio, another official is claiming that this has nothing to do with elections,” Hlabisa said. “If it were not so damaging to South Africa, we would surely laugh.”

Hlabisa said South Africa would be “thrust into darkness just as winter sets in” because the temporary halt to load-shedding was “costing us millions that we do not have, just for

for the sake of politics”.

“It is unconscionable that the government would not only lie, but wilfully put our people in danger, distress and debt,” he said.

“The IFP will end load-shedding completely. We will transform the energy sector in our

country, and we will endeavour to reduce the cost of fuel, by delinking RAF [Road Accident Fund] levies and other government taxes from the petrol price,” he said.

The party is contesting all nine provinces, and Hlabisa and other IFP leaders believe that they can increase its vote beyond KwaZulu-Natal and not only in Gauteng, where it has one MP in the legislature.

Its Gauteng leader, Bonginkosi Dlamini, told supporters that “no one will form a government in Gauteng without the IFP, as happened in 2016 and 2019”.

“The stronger the IFP is in our province and nationally, the better for you and the future of your family. Make sure you make the IPF strong in Gauteng and elsewhere. When we were in government in the City of Johannesburg, there was stability, service delivery and no corruption,” Dlamini said.

Buthelezi’s son, Prince Zukifa Buthelezi, delivered a message of support on behalf of the party founder’s family, saying they supported the IFP leadership that was carrying forward his legacy.

“If we are not united, it means that we are wasting our time,” Buthelezi said. “To the leaders of the IFP, I thank you. You have been holding on to the legacy that he has left us with.”