The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) draws its support largely from Zulu-speaking South Africans with its strongholds being the rural areas of KwaZulu-Natal and migrant workers’ hostels in the metropolitan areas of Gauteng.
Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi has led the IFP since he founded it as the Inkatha National Cultural Liberation Movement in 1975. His political career dates back to the 1940s, when he joined the ANC Youth League while studying at Fort Hare University.
Inkatha was transformed into a political party in July 1990, championing federalism as the best political option for South Africa.
The IFP believes in integrating traditional leadership into the system of governance by recognising traditional communities as models of societal organisation.
Buthelezi stepped down as leader of the IFP in 2019. He was replaced by Velenkosini Hlabisa.
The party has contested all municipal elections since 1995 with 757 704 (8.7%) in 1995; IFP scored 9.1% in 2000. In the last two local elections, the numbers dropped to 954 021 (3.6%) and 1.823 382 (4.73%) respectively in 2011 and 2016.
It’s currently the 4th largest party in the National Assembly after the 2019 general elections.