'I'm still IFP president and I'm returning to parliament,' says Mangosuthu Buthelezi
IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi has confirmed that he will return to parliament as an MP in the newly-elected National Assembly.
The nonagenarian will be among a handful of MPs who have been in parliament since the dawn of democracy in 1994.
Buthelezi, 90, said this was not an about-turn on his decision to retire, describing reports to this effect as "nonsense".
"I have, very publicly and very clearly, indicated what will happen, when it will happen and how it will happen. So there is no surprise whatsoever that I am returning to Cape Town next week, to be sworn in as a member of parliament,” he said on Monday.
"Until the IFP holds its national elective conference, I am still the president of the IFP, and I must fulfil the responsibilities of that position,” he said.
Buthelezi said he would not stand for re-election at the party's next elective conference, which he said would be held "as soon as practically possible".
Buthelezi was addressing journalists on Monday about last week's election outcomes. The IFP increased its seats in the National Assembly from the 10 it won in 2014 to 14 seats this time around. The party will also be the official opposition in the KwaZulu-Natal legislature, displacing the DA from that position.
Buthelezi said it was also not true that he had nominated a successor and that through an extended national council in October 2017, the party's structures had unanimously nominated secretary general Velenkosini Hlabisa to stand for election for the position of party president.
"I did not put his name forward myself, nor did I engage the debate on who should stand; but I was pleased to support the decision of our extended national council," he said.
On the party's election success, Buthelezi said this was based on more than himself.
"Those who like to suggest that ours is a one-man show have been put to shame by this election. I have said many times that the IFP is blessed with a strong leadership team. We have incredible men and women leading in this party.
"On May 8 South Africans spoke through the ballot box and their message was quite clear: It is time to restore integrity to governance. It is time for a resurgent IFP," he said.
He said the election results had shown the wisdom of the party in approaching a leadership transition with prudence and judiciousness and not hurrying to the end result, but taking the membership step by step along the journey.
"It is evident that the IFP’s rank and file are comfortable with our transition and have embraced the leaders who will take the IFP into its next chapter.
"So I think a question has been answered. The IFP will survive. Far more than that, the IFP is back," said Buthelezi.