It is official, Thamsanqa Ntuli is the IFP premier candidate for KwaZulu-Natal.
The official opposition in the provincial legislature made the announcement in Durban on Monday.
Party president Velenkosini Hlabisa said Ntuli was nominated unopposed during the national council meeting held in eMpangeni on the north coast of the province.
The council is the highest decision-making body of the party between conferences.
“Judging by his track record in championing service delivery issues, we have no doubt that the party made a perfect choice in Ntuli. We are bringing a game-changer to the people of KwaZulu-Natal,” said Hlabisa.
Ntuli’s nomination puts to bed speculation that has been swirling for months that the party rank and file were torn between Ntuli and Hlabisa.
Even though the party denied it, Sunday World predicted several months ago that Ntuli, the IFP chairperson in KwaZulu-Natal and mayor of the King Cetshwayo district municipality, would be the front-runner for the top position.
He is hailed as someone who was instrumental in the party’s impressive run in successive by-elections and made inroads in the former ANC’s strongholds.
Currently, the party has control over important councils that the ANC previously oversaw, regaining some of its lost ground in the province.
No bad blood
Hlabisa used the briefing to dispel the perception that there was bad blood between him and Ntuli.
“It’s not there; in fact, I am the one who nominated him during the meeting. His name was not contested,” he said.
Ntuli, on the other hand, pointed out that his experience in local government makes him fit and proper to stand as the premier candidate.
“Where I’ve been a mayor in Nkandla and at King Cetshwayo, people can see for themselves what we have been able to achieve,” said Ntuli.
“My intention is to follow in the footsteps of our founder, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, who developed KwaZulu-Natal into what it is today.”
The IFP has made it known that it wants to regain political power in the province it once governed before its electoral support dwindled, losing the province to the governing ANC.
The party will, however, face a mammoth task in its mission with the new ANC splinter group, uMkhonto weSizwe, proving to be a political threat ahead of the polls.
However, the party will bank on its alliance with the DA to possibly co-govern the province.