Despite the rank and file of the IFP calling for him to be the face of the party in KwaZulu-Natal ahead of the 2024 polls, Thami Ntuli has no ambitions to become the premier of the province should his party topple the ANC.
In an interview with Sunday World this week, Ntuli revealed for the first time that he will not avail himself to become the premier if the IFP garners sufficient votes in the elections.
“I believe that my work at the King Cetshwayo district is not yet done. My term expires in 2025,” Ntuli said.
“It was even premature to mention my name as potential premier candidate for KwaZulu-Natal because I have never had such aspirations.”
Nod from senior party leaders
A teacher by profession, Ntuli is understood to have received the nod from senior party leaders including mayors of several municipalities to succeed Nomusa Dube-Ncube as KwaZulu-Natal premier.
The IFP is in a poll position to emerge victorious at next year’s general elections judging by the party’s upward trajectory in recent by-elections.
While the party made a massive comeback in the 2021 municipal elections, snatching the majority of councils which were previously under the ANC, it also showed its potency by recording unexpected back-to-back by-elections.
In some instances, the IFP registered gains in wards considered the governing party’s strongholds such as Sweetwaters under the Msunduzi municipality in Pietermaritzburg and another ANC-led ward in eThekwini metro.
Ntuli, who is the current mayor of King Cetshwayo covering five municipalities in northern KwaZulu-Natal, has been pitied against party president Velenkosini Hlabisa.
King Cetshwayo covers municipalities including Nkandla, uMfolozi, uMlalazi, Mthonjaneni and the City of uMhlathuze
Ntuli and Hlabisa are said to be at odds over who is the most powerful and influential in the party, a claim that they have both denied.
At the centre of the schism is an apparent push by two dominant factions in the party.
One faction is known as KKK (Konke Kuhamba Kahle), meaning why change because everything is going well, a clique linked to Ntuli. Another faction, which is aligned to Hlabisa, is known as AU (Abusekho Ubunzima), loosely translated as there are no more troubles.
Ntuli, who is also the IFP KwaZulu-Natal chairperson, told Sunday World that there is no hostility between him and Hlabisa, saying they enjoy a strong bond inside the party and outside of politics.
Anointed by Buthelezi
“In fact, I was the one who initially suggested his name when uMntwana [late IFP founder Mangosuthu Buthelezi] announced that he would be step down,” Ntuli said.
“Even during the elective conference when other delegates opposed his candidature and nominated someone else as party president, I insisted that Bulawayo [Hlabisa] should be endorsed as per the party’s resolution supported by uMntwana.“
Both Hlabisa and Ntuli were known to be very close to Buthelezi who anointed them into their current positions.
The IFP will in December convene a policy conference where, among other things, the names of party members to be deployed to provincial and national parliament will be discussed.
Sunday World understands that intense lobbying has already got under way for various legislature positions.
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