In March, South Africa will hold local government elections, which will determine who will run our cities and towns for the next 5 years.
Continuing SA Blog’s series on the contestants and their lampposts, meet the Inkatha Freedom Party.
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Party: Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP)
Leader: Mangosuthu “Gatsha” Buthelezi, MP
Constituency: The sons and daughters of Shaka kaSenzangakhona PheZuuuluuuuuuuuuu!!!!!!, primarily.
Status: Hau! – fossilized.
Election strategy: Dressing Zuluness up in a tuxedo, apparently.
Prospects: Losing the other engine, if it’s not careful.
The IFP was once a mighty political party in South Africa, but if it’s not careful, it will soon head the way of fellow apartheid-era dinosaur, the National Party, which succumbed to reality last year when it merged with the African National Congress. (“What?” you’re thinking. “The party of HF Verwoerd, PW Botha and FW de Klerk merged with its arch enemy?” “Yes,” I can confirm. “This actually happened.”)
IFP dictator-for-life Mangosuthu “Gatsha” Buthelezi – he of royal Zulu stock – has failed to let his party grow with the times, and it remains mired in an regional brand of political muck known as “Zulu nationalism”. He receives regular praise, from toadies and those who don’t know better (for a truly laughable example of the latter, click here), but these encomia are more and more given in the style of obituaries. Some say he will be remembered as a great man; alternatively, he will be remembered as a man who acquiesced in large-scale slaughter in areas of KwaZulu Natal like Pietermaritzburg/Edendale. (To provide some context, over 2,000 people were killed in KZN political warfare between 1987 and 1990, mostly by IFP supporters. That’s more than in 20 years of sectarian strife in Northern Ireland.)