The Inkatha National Cultural Liberation Movement was founded on 21 March 1975 at KwaNzimela, in Northern KwaZulu. Inkatha emerged, along with the Black Consciousness Movement, to fill the vacuum in Black politics caused by the banning of the African National Congress (ANC) and Pan Africanist Congress (PAC). It was the precursor to the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP).
Most of the founders of Inkatha had been ANC office-bearers or activists. The most prominent founder was Dr. M.G. Buthelezi, a former member of the ANC Youth League who became the President of the Inkatha National Cultural Liberation Movement. Other prominent founding members of Inkatha were the late Rev. Bishop Dr. A.H. Zulu and Dr. Frank .T. Mdlalose.
On 14 July 1990, the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) came into being at a special conference in Ulundi, where Dr. Mangosuthu Buthelezi was unanimously elected President of the IFP.