Misuzulu, Buthelezi tensions could bite Inkatha Freedom Party at polls

Misuzulu, Buthelezi tensions could bite Inkatha Freedom Party at polls

Misuzulu, Buthelezi tensions could bite Inkatha Freedom Party at polls

As cracks start showing in the relationship between Zulu King Misuzulu kaZwelithini and his prime minister, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) leaders are concerned the tensions could see it losing support.

In a recent press briefing Buthelezi dismissed speculations that his relationship with the king had hit the skids as part of attempts to drive a wedge between the two.

IFP leaders who spoke on condition of anonymity, said any further rumours “or leaks” that the relationship between Buthelezi and Misuzulu was deteriorating would damage the party.

“As much as uMntwana (Buthelezi) is a long-serving prime minister, he is also the founder of the IFP,” a senior IFP leader said. 

“If this perception that the relationship is in trouble continues, the public will end up thinking that the IFP is at war with the king. That’s the last thing the IFP leaders would want to happen, particularly given that we are not far from next year’s election.” 

Despite the king being an apolitical figure, another IFP senior leader said the fact that his prime minister happens to be a founder of the party worked in its favour.

“It’s a fact that the majority of the members of the Zulu nation, particularly those residing within the KZN province, have high regard for both the king and the prime minister.

“So, if there are perceptions that the king and uMntwana are not getting along, it could confuse a number of IFP supporters. That’s why, as the IFP leadership, we are praying that the king and his prime minister will soon find a lasting solution to whatever difficulties they may be facing.”

Speculation about the relationship between Buthelezi and Misuzulu emerged at a time when the founder of the Abantu Batho Congress, Philani Mavundla, was appointed as one of the king’s advisers.

Another IFP leader said: “[I]t is true that some of us are uncomfortable about Mavundla’s appointment, but at the same time, I also respect the king’s right to appoint people he believes will add value in the Zulu royal family.

“What matters for the IFP is that the IFP founder and president emeritus still holds the high position of prime minister of the Zulu nation. Going forward, what will make us happy as loyal members of the IFP is to see the king and his prime ministers demonstrating that they have ironed out their differences.”

Asked whether Buthelezi shared the concerns of some IFP leaders regarding Mavundla’s appointment as one of the king’s advisers, Buthelezi’s spokesperson, Liezl van der Merwe, said the Zulu prime minister was not the appropriate person to comment on concerns by political parties.

“This is not something for the traditional prime minister to comment on,” she said. 

Buthelezi is scheduled to have discussions with amakhosi on a number of issues in Empangeni on Friday.

This article was first published in The Witness.

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