The President of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) has once again shot down claims that he is at loggerheads with Thami Ntuli, the powerful and more visible chairperson of the party in KwaZulu-Natal.
Velenkosini Hlabisa also denied that he was pushed out of the party’s power base in KZN and shipped to the National Assembly in Cape Town to replace the late Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi so that Ntuli could have a clear path as he eyes the premiership of KZN.
WATCH: IFP Pres Velenkosini Hlabisa says factionalism in the party has no room. Hlabisa also vehemently denied that he is a loggerhead with Thami Ntuli, the provincial chairperson of the party in KZN. Hlabisa said they will monitor the social media activities of their members. pic.twitter.com/qwV9XkJQFR— Sihle Mavuso (@ZANewsFlash) October 20, 2023
Hlabisa, who was sworn in as an MP on Thursday, said the continued reports of tensions between him and Ntuli is the work of their detractors, who want to keep them distracted from focusing on next year's elections.
Hlabisa dismissed the persistent reports on Friday during a press conference held by the party in Durban.
UPDATE: IFP President, Velenkosini Hlabisa announce that the party will have a campaign dubbed "Kungawe - It's about you." The campaign will engage citizens on several issues affecting them. pic.twitter.com/Rl9uXxq20c— Sihle Mavuso (@ZANewsFlash) October 20, 2023
The press conference was to announce the party’s preparations for the elections, memorial services to commemorate the life of Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, the founder of the IFP, and address other topical issues in the country and the world.
Regarding his move to the National Assembly, Hlabisa said this was part of their “smooth transition” process.
Moreover, during the questions and answers session with the media, he said to show that there are no tensions between him and Ntuli; they contact each other almost every day as they have a hotline.
WATCH: IFP President, Velenkosini Hlabisa, says his move to parliament in Cape Town is part of a "smooth leadership transition." He is currently addressing the media in Durban. pic.twitter.com/uBSQGBVvMI— Sihle Mavuso (@ZANewsFlash) October 20, 2023
“The relationship between me and Mphemba (Ntuli) is very good, and I have said this several times.
“If you want to check the relations between leaders, you conclude, do they call each other? Yes, they call each other.
“‘Do they text each other on work stuff? They don’t text each other; they only talk in meetings.
“Leaders who are on bad terms are only forced to talk to each other because they are in one meeting. Myself and Mphemba, we have a hotline through WhatsApp; we have a hotline through telephone calls; we have a good relationship,” Hlabisa said.
UPDATE: The IFP says it will host a series of memorial services in honour of the late Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, the founder of rhe party. The KZN memorial service will be held at Princess Magogo Stadium in KwaMashu, Durban. pic.twitter.com/h6lstRcVj6— Sihle Mavuso (@ZANewsFlash) October 20, 2023
He further dismissed the now widely circulated video in which he was seen not shaking hands with Ntuli while they were in Mtubatuba.
According to Hlabisa, that never happened, but someone “mischievous” cut out the portion where he shook hands with Ntuli several times.
Ntuli, who attended the same press conference, also said there are no tensions between Hlabisa and himself.
Responding to the issue of the premier candidate for the IFP in KZN, where several polls have shown that the ANC won’t get the required 50+1 votes, Hlabisa said that it is not their practice to go to elections with candidates.
According to Hlabisa, the party may keep up with that tradition even this time around.
"On the issue of the premier in KwaZulu-Natal, the IFP has never met to discuss who will be the premier candidate in 2024 or who will be on the list or members of provincial legislatures or the National Assembly.
“It has not met; now, people who want to divert the attention of the IFP and want to see the IFP engaged in a continuous conflict are starting to say so and so gonna be on this position.”
Asked about factions in the party, Hlabisa said they would go all out to root them out whenever they showed up.
Among the measures they have put in place, Hlabisa said, is to monitor the social media activities of their members.
Anyone found to be promoting factionalism would be hauled over the coals. The undertaking comes as the voice of senior IFP member Prince Thengi Zulu, who is the Speaker of Newcastle Local Municipality, started doing the rounds.
Zulu is heard addressing a faction called the KKKs. The IFP has acknowledged that the voice note is authentic, but claimed that “it is old,” and Zulu has since apologised for it.