In Celebration of Freedom Day 2014

Message of Support by
Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP
President of the Inkatha Freedom Party

27 April 2014.


Twenty years ago, millions of South Africans voted for the first time. For the first time, South Africa's ballot paper read "Yenza uphawu lakho eduze nehlangano oyikhethayo". In eleven languages, we were asked to make our mark next to the party we chose. Each vote held the same weight. For the first time, we were all equal.


On that day, more than two million South Africans made their cross at the bottom of the ballot paper, where the IFP's logo had been added just eight days before the election.


The IFP had waged the liberation struggle inside South Africa for nineteen years. We had held more rallies under the banner "Free Mandela" than any other organisation. We had blocked Apartheid's grand scheme to balkanise South Africa.


We had steered constitutional negotiations towards decentralised power and empowered provinces.


The 27th of April 1994 symbolised all we had been working for.


But the IFP wanted the first democratic elections to be more than symbolic. We wanted to ensure that the people's voice would be heard, as a matter of principle, between elections, and not only once every five years.


We pushed for a commitment from South Africa's leaders to continue negotiating after elections, until we had properly dealt with the needs and aspirations of all our diverse peoples. South Africa received that commitment in the form of a solemn agreement signed by Mr Nelson Mandela and former State President FW de Klerk.


Sadly, history records that that commitment was not honoured. Instead, we forged ahead with building a new South Africa as though there were no outstanding issues to negotiate. At times, reality was sacrificed on the altar of national unity.


Twenty years later, we are left to judge whether old contentions disappeared over time, or whether they still, even silently, obstruct our efforts to work together.


The IFP believes it is time for South Africa to tie up the loose ends of reconciliation.


Democracy should see a growing number of citizens coming on board with a national vision. If an increasing number of people fall away, no longer considering themselves role players or stakeholders in the future, we forge ahead at our peril.


On this Freedom Day, let us pause to consider whether all our people's voices are being heard and heeded, as a matter of principle. Not just through the ballot box, but through an ongoing national discourse that shapes the decisions we take.


Today the IFP salutes the ordinary men and women who brought us liberty through their extraordinary acts of bravery and sacrifice. May we continue to build on the foundation of their efforts as we work together for a united future.


The IFP wishes every South African hope and power this Freedom Day.