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ROAD TO 2024 ELECTIONS

IFP hits the campaign trail, rallying support in Joburg hostels

IFP hits the campaign trail, rallying support in Joburg hostels
IFP President Velenkosini Hlabisa hands out T-shirts at Jeppe Men’s hostel in Johannesburg on 1 February 2024. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

During a visit to Johannesburg hostels on Thursday, IFP leader Velenkosini Hlabisa said his party was aiming to win executive power in Gauteng to redress decades of ANC misrule.

Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) leader Velenkosini Hlabisa on Thursday told a gathering of about 300 supporters in the rundown Jeppestown Wolhuter men’s hostel that his party wanted to take executive power in Gauteng in the upcoming elections.

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IFP President Velenkosini Hlabisa addresses residents of Jeppe hostel in Johannesburg. (Photo:Felix Dlangamandla)

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A Johannesburg Metro Police swat member keeps watch as IFP president Velenkosini Hlabisa arrives at Jeppe hostel in Johannesburg on 1 February 2024. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

“The lives of thousands of Jeppe people are at stake. [The] sewer has been running freely for 25 years. The roof in Block 1 was blown off in 2016 and it’s still not fixed in eight years,” Hlabisa said.

The IFP leader’s visit comes as SA gears up for a crucial general election.

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Kwa MayiMayi Induna Ndwandwe (left), IFP President Velenkosini Hlabisa (centre) and Induna Manyathela Mvelase (right) after their tour of Jeppe hostel in Johannesburg on 1 February 2024. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

Polls predict that the ANC will lose its majority in the national elections and is particularly vulnerable to coalitions such as the Multi-Party Charter in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.

In a separate event on Thursday, members of the Multi-Party Charter, which includes the DA, IFP, ActionSA and Freedom Front Plus, said they had “a good chance” of leading in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.

Hlabisa’s visit came as the Electoral Commission is set to hold its second national voter registration weekend on Saturday and Sunday.

Jeppestown hostel

“I want to give the IFP a chance because the IFP delivers on its promises,” Smiso Zuma, a resident of the Jeppe hostel, told Daily Maverick

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Smiso Zuma, resident of Jeppetown hostel, attended the visit of IFP President Velenkosini Hlabisa. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

“The hostel has deteriorated beyond measure. Take for instance where I stay at the hostel, there is a huge hole [in the roof]. We see the sky as we sleep. I really wanted [Hlabisa] to see it,” Zuma said.

He said the hostel flooded when it rained and had continued to deteriorate since he began living there in 2002.

“There is no water, no water taps, no toilets and uncollected refuse accumulates all the time,” Zuma said.

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IFP President Velenkosini Hlabisa hands out T-shirts at Jeppe Men’s hostel.(Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

“The ruling party has no compassion for those it purports to lead; that is why the IFP must be given a chance.”

The hostel has, since 2001, been under the leadership of the IFP. It is one one of the oldest men’s hostels in Gauteng, many of which have fallen into disrepair.

The hostels were originally built to provide accommodation to men who came to seek employment in the city. Over the years, the men brought their families to live with them, leading to calls to expand the facilities and turn them into family units, which never happened in Jeppe.

“The hostels are under the management of the provincial government and it has failed to inspire change,” Hlabisa said.

‘The IFP delivers’

On Thursday, IFP supporters came from other hostels in the city to see Hlabisa.

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Mpho Mbatha (29) from Soweto, attended the visit of IFP President Velenkosini Hlabisa at Jeppe men’s hostel on 1 February 2024. (Photo:Felix Dlangamandla)

“I will definitely vote for the IFP because they are the most transparent party. Unlike the ruling ANC, the IFP delivers on its promises,” said Mpho Mbatha (29) from Soweto.

Mbatha said she was appalled to see the condition of the Jeppestown hostel. 

“The buildings are falling apart. There is no running water. The windows and doors are falling off, no toilets and the place is densely populated. It’s inhuman,” Mbatha said.

Zazi Chiya

Zazi Chiya (45), resident of Dube Hostel in Soweto. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

“The current government has failed to provide the services we seek,” said Zazi Chiya (45), a resident of the Dube hostel in Soweto. “We need to go out to vote in our numbers, and the only party that will bring about change is the IFP because the IFP keeps its promises.

“We need change. The living conditions at the hostels are deplorable. We live with our children who have to play in [sewage] that is flowing all over. The IFP leader has assured us that our problems will be better dealt with when the IFP is in power.”  

For the first time in its history, the IFP is campaigning without its founder, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, who died in September aged 95.

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IFP President Velenkosini Hlabisa (centre) greets residents on his visit to Jeppe hostel. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

While lamenting Buthelezi’s death, Hlabisa said the IFP was in good hands and the spirit of Buthelezi would be the IFP’s guiding force.

MK ‘has no chance’

The launch of former president Jacob Zuma’s uMkhonto Wesizwe (MK) party could dent the IFP’s plans to grow, but on Thursday, IFP members brushed aside any threat the fledgling party might pose.

“The IFP has an entrenched history in KwaZulu-Natal. I give the MK, even with former president Jacob Zuma at the helm, no chance against the IFP,” Smiso Zuma said.

“You know what, you cannot vouch for something you haven’t seen. The MK are newbies, while IFP boasts a rich history. Not many people will want to associate with something new because politics is also about trust, and people trust the IFP,” Mbatha said. DM

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