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