‘IFP Seeks Meeting with NFP to Ensure Peaceful Elections’

Press Statement by Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP
President of the Inkatha Freedom Party

19 February 2014  


Every election since 1994 has been marred by incidents of violence and voter intimidation which threaten to scupper free and fair elections. Since our first democratic elections, the IFP has raised this matter with the Independent Electoral Commission and we have worked very visibly and very vocally to secure peaceful elections.


Our campaign against political violence was born long before 1994. The IFP was founded on the principles of non-violence and negotiations; the principles propounded by the founding fathers of the liberation movement.


In the eighties and early nineties, when the IFP became the main target of the ANC's People's War, the IFP became the champion of peace in our country. Even as our members, supporters and leaders were killed, we called for peace, calm and no retaliation. We learned the art, and the critical importance, of quelling anger born of grief among our people.


It was this pursuit of peace – in which democracy could be birthed – that led the IFP to seek reconciliation with the ANC. Following Mr Nelson Mandela's release, our two parties met at the Royal Hotel in Durban and forged an agreement to end political violence.


One of the key resolutions we reached was a commitment to stop inflammatory language that stoked the flames of violence. Another was that Mr Mandela and I would address joint rallies of our parties' supporters to give the example, as leaders, that we were seeking reconciliation.


History records the tragic result of that agreement not being honoured by the ANC. But it was necessary that we try, and the IFP will keep trying to end the violence. Our call has always been for peace, and we still walk this path.


As we approach the 2014 elections, incidents of violence and intimidation are taking their usual place; and again the IFP is at the centre of the campaign to end the violence, and ensure free and fair elections.


I have taken note of statements made in the media by the leader of the NFP, Mrs kaMagwaza-Msibi, following the tragic death of an NFP member this weekend. Mrs kaMagwaza-Msibi has made it known that she feels disrespected by the leadership of other parties, and she believes that such disrespect foments political violence.


I am concerned by her use of emotive language, saying for instance that NFP members are being "mown down". This is the kind of inflammatory language that Mr Mandela and I warned against when we sought an end to violence. It stirs up anger, for the sake of scoring political points. But it is a deadly practice.


I therefore took the decision today to contact the NFP Leader personally, to request a meeting between the leadership of our two parties, so that we can discuss ways to ensure a peaceful election. When Mrs kaMagwaza-Msibi left the IFP, I publically assured her that the door would always be open to reconciliation. The IFP has kept this door open, despite violence against us by the NFP.


We urge the NFP not to use the tragic loss of life to score political points, as this does nothing but perpetuate the cycle of violence. The SAPS has repeatedly spoken of unknown motives and unknown suspects, and the element of criminality has been raised again and again. To call every death an act of political violence is irresponsible, and inflammatory.


By contacting the Leader of the NFP, the IFP is seeking opportunity to raise these issues in a neutral space, out of the eye of the media. We hope, however, to emerge from that meeting with a Joint Statement committing both our parties to pursue peaceful campaigning, and free and fair elections.


We realise that when the IFP met with the leadership of the EFF and arrived at a commitment of this nature, the NFP labelled it "opportunistic". I therefore wish to assure Mrs kaMagwaza-Msibi that our request for a meeting with the leadership of the NFP is made for no other motive than to seek peace between our supporters. That is the duty of responsible political leaders.


I also wish to assure Mrs kaMagwaza-Msibi that while our parties may differ in values and ideology, I respect her right to seek a place for the NFP in the political arena.


We therefore hope that our request for a meeting will receive a favourable response from the NFP.