Thoughts on South African and international politics and culture

Monday, August 01, 2005

Last days of the IFP?
The IFP has long struggled for relevance since the mid-nineties, and with the last two weeks' internal battle between the reformists and the Buthelezi loyalists, the latter's perceived victory seems as though it is a party doomed to follow the NP into obscurity.

Jiyane's suspension yesterday by the IFP slams the door on the principles of reform and rejuvenation from the chairman. The comments by Jiyane that the IFP constituted "an internal dictatorship" were clearly meant to divide the party and rally support for change, with him as the new leadership candidate. They were borne of an endemic frustration with the party's continued rudderless listing in the political waters. It is a pity that this suspension will now infer that reform will be taken off the IFP agenda, and none of the ideals proposed by Jiyane will be taken on board.

Buthelezi is not a man to give up power easily, and this represents a boon to his political survival. The Mail & Guardian has reported Jiyane's comments as a "masterstroke" of politicking by old hand Buthelezi, who drew Jiyane into a "trap" using the IFP Youth League to stir up publicity on Jiyane's comments and force him into a position that would put him squarely against Buthelezi in the party's eyes, with Buthelezi an easy victor.

Whatever the case, the IFP needs fresh blood and a new direction. The party is simply not seen as a viable alternative in government, and this lack of policy development and issue development is destining the party for failure. With Buthelezi's victory over Jiyane, one would be hard-pressed to see constructive change in the party. And without that, one cannot see the party surviving beyond the next elections in 2009.