Launch Of The IFP's 2011 Local Government Election Campaign
Address By Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP
President Of The Inkatha Freedom Party

 

Durban,  2nd April 2011

 

The Inkatha Freedom Party is proud to launch its Local Government Election campaign for 2011. The 18th of May will be a decisive moment in our nation's history. On this day, the power to decide the future will be placed squarely where it belongs; in the hands of the people. 

 

This election is about you. It is about your community, your needs and your municipality.

 

This will be our country's fourth Local Government Election since we attained democracy in 1994. We have come a long way in the past seventeen years and our democratic values have been tested often. I wish I could say we have arrived at a point in which our commitment to liberty, participative governance and development is beyond reproach.  But, rather than arriving, I somehow feel we have come to a crossroads on what may still be a long journey.

 

When our nation's leaders came together around the negotiating table at the World Trade Centre in 1993, a power struggle ensued with many overt demands and an even greater measure of undertones and unspoken goals. The IFP came to the table as the party that would not allow a new political dispensation to be decided bilaterally between the then ruling Nationalist Party and myself, as the representative of the dispossessed majority.

 

The IFP had been the political home of disenfranchised South Africans for almost two decades, since the ANC and other political organizations were banned and their leadership was in exile. But I had no desire to be remembered as South Africa's official liberator. My title, reputation and legacy are of no consequence unless I serve South Africa with selfless integrity. Just as I had campaigned for the release of Nelson Mandela and all political prisoners, I took the principled stand that negotiations toward democracy must include every political representative.

 

We were negotiating an inclusive South Africa in which every South African could claim a stake and find a role. I had served in governance for several decades and I knew how difficult it was going to be to transform our nation. We did not enter democracy with perfect leaders and we do not live under perfect leaders today. As the abolitionist Wendell Phillips said, "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty". We can thus never stop watching our leaders and holding them accountable every step of the way.

 

Among the undertones at the negotiating table was the ANC's goal of creating a centralized government in which power was held tightly at the top, in the hands of a few. The presumption was that the few who would hold the power would be of such pure character and noble mind that they could never misrule our people. The ANC would like to pretend that the leaders they put forward are beyond reproach. That is, of course, dangerously naïve.

 

The pursuit of centralization turned the ANC against the idea of provinces. They preferred to see policies developed at a national level, rolled out on a conveyor belt system to the provinces, regardless of the idiosyncrasies of our diverse regions and peoples.

 

The IFP fought tooth and nail for provinces. We were established upon the notion of federalism, as the most effective means of ensuring democracy in a pluralist society. We sought to bring governance closer to the people, so that you could partner with your representatives in designing solutions to specific service delivery problems.

 

Our adamant stand in favour of provinces led to South Africa's Constitution giving provinces the right to vary their policies on issues such as policing, education, housing and agriculture. Because of the IFP's stand, local government is not pinned down by the iron hand of national government when it comes to deciding on matters like health services, transport, electricity and sanitation services.

 

We fought for the Constitution to enable strong provinces and strong municipalities. But the fight to see municipalities freed from the ongoing centralist design of the ruling Party continues. For this reason, the IFP's focus has not changed from empowering local government. We have been in a position to prove that IFP led municipalities function better than ANC led municipalities, because our fundamental commitment to democracy is not tainted by contradictory aspirations.

 

The IFP seeks to see South Africa governed by South Africans, in partnership, from the ground up, through strong municipalities with tailor-made service delivery plans. It is about you; about building you a house, about educating your children, about fixing your roads, about giving you quality medical care, and helping you find employment that is sustainable and dignified.

 

You should be the one to decide whether a clinic is being run properly, or if fire-fighting services are needed in your area. You should be telling your representatives about electricity and water needs, and seeing those needs are met. The IFP has decided to focus its campaign in 2011 on you, because only through your participation and vigilance can local government succeed. We cannot govern effectively without listening to you, and finding out how to serve you best.

 

The IFP is committed to service. Our councillors are, first and foremost, servants of the people. Although they are elected on a party ticket, we require them to work for everyone in a community. With the IFP, there is no such thing as favouring our supporters or punishing people who choose to vote for a different party. We don't give out food parcels in exchange for votes. Instead, we meet needs wherever they arise because our commitment is to service first, before politics.

 

The IFP believes it is grossly immoral to make promises to our people that cannot be kept. Within the IFP-led municipalities, we are aware of the poverty of our people and we share your everyday struggles. Our municipalities are not awash with money. In fact, the budget is so tight that many needed development projects are hindered. But we are experienced in doing a lot with a little, and in IFP-led municipalities we make every cent count.

 

In Umlalazi, for instance, we have a history of sound financial management and unqualified audit reports. The same applies to Endumeni. In Msinga, sound financial management has enabled the municipality to engage in an R8-million project to supply electricity to the Msinga community, which is 99% rural. In Ntambanana, where no income is generated from service charges, refuse removal is rendered by the municipality at no cost to the community.

 

In Abaqulusi, large areas of the municipality were electrified during the current term of local government. Edumbe is also noteworthy for delivering electricity connections to local businesses. In Uphongolo, pre-paid meters have been installed to eliminate incorrect meter readings. In Dannhauser, a stable staff complement has meant continuity of interaction with the community. The intense relationship between the Mayor and the local business community in Nongoma is producing good results. And in Big Five False Bay, where the municipality has virtually no income, we have managed to build a crèche, a community hall and an access road.

 

These are small achievements, but they are meaningful, for they directly affect the quality of life of the people we serve. We would like to see capacity at all our municipalities strengthened, because a better functioning local government means a better functioning democracy. I have warned in the national Parliament that South Africa's democracy is under threat because of the irresponsible actions of some of our leaders. To my mind, making empty promises is one of the most irresponsible things a government can do.

 

For seventeen years the ruling Party has been making promises and focusing your attention on the final goal, without ever explaining how it plans to get there. Our President has declared this the year of job creation, but there is no clarity on how government intends to fulfil that goal. It is not enough to simply talk about something. One has to know how to achieve it, and be willing to sacrifice and work to get there.

 

Government's lauded Expanded Public Works Programme created 2.4 million jobs. But they lasted less than 50 days.  Between 2009 and 2010, we lost about 1.17 million jobs, rather than seeing the half a million new jobs the President committed himself to delivering. 

Unemployment amongst the youth in our country is at 51% and the National Treasury predicts that by next year 16 million people will be receiving social grants.

 

I am a pragmatist, because life has taught me not to indulge dreams as if they were reality. Pragmatism prevents me from endorsing the ANC's dream of redressing the many imbalances in our society without paying any cost. To create job opportunities, we must pay the social cost of creating maximum flexibility in the labour market. To create a new industrial basis, we must accept the political cost of displeasing the trade unions, curbing expectations and being honest with our people.

 

It is dishonest to announce a Youth Wage Subsidy, when nothing ever comes of the proposal. It is dishonest to claim that government will somehow ensure that teachers are in class on time, teaching, with no negligence of duty, when government's poor management of labour relations led to a crippling public service strike. It is dishonest to promise quality schooling, when the World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Index ranks the quality of South Africa's schooling as among the worst in the world.

 

Last year, during his State of the Nation address, President Zuma committed Government to maintaining and expanding our road network. 

Instead, South Africa's road network is deteriorating at an alarming pace with some R120 billion needed to maintain our roads. Due to poor planning and lack of basic maintenance, many of our roads are riddled with potholes.

 

The Department of Human Settlements recently revealed that it will cost approximately R58 billion to fix poorly constructed RDP houses. 

Government throws around figures like this to show how much it is doing for our people. But what was the cost of employing unfit contractors in the first place? And who is benefitting from all this wastage of government funds? Certainly not you, the taxpayer. 

Certainly not you, who will go and vote on the 18th of May.

 

The IFP is declaring war on dodgy tenders. It is unacceptable that corrupt officials and corrupt contractors walk away with your hard earned money, while delivering nothing of any benefit. I led the erstwhile KwaZulu Government for eighteen years and never once was an allegation of corruption ever leveled against my administration. 

Officials knew that I would not tolerate corrupt practices. I still do not tolerate corruption. The IFP has administered the shoestring budget of KwaZulu, and the billions of KwaZulu Natal, and we have not changed our policy of absolute integrity.

 

We therefore support proposed legislation which will require all state employees to declare their business interests. But we want not only officials to be accountable, but their immediate family as well. We know that dodgy tenders are often hidden by officials using their husbands or wives to front their own interests. We believe that wherever there is a conflict of interest, it should be exposed. The IFP insists that Mayors and City or Town Managers be appointed on merit, and we believe in making their credentials publically available so that you know what your representative can do for you.

 

The IFP's election campaign is all about you, because - to us - you deserve honest leaders, truthful representatives and real solutions. 

We insist on a local government that is open and efficient, and works for you. For this reason, we work to promote openness in our municipalities. Tenders are public so that you will know precisely who gets what, for what service. We believe you have a right to receive any information you require concerning your municipality and your council.

 

We also believe that every Rand must be spent in a way that improves your community and your municipality. The IFP acts against mismanagement, corruption and waste. We are not shy to fire councillors who are not working and not delivering. No one in the IFP gets a free ride. For that reason, we block bonuses for managers which are not earned through real performance.

 

We are committed to bringing municipal governance closer to you, empowering you to participate in decisions that are made. Our councillors are mandated to work closely with you every day, so that local government by the IFP works with you and for you in all that it does. We set a very high standard for our councillors, for we know that they not only represent the IFP to the people, but the people to their Government.

 

You can therefore expect an IFP councillor to be a person of integrity, who will be open and fair in their dealings, include you in decision making and be accountable for all they do. Our councillors are required to be available to you at all times, to take your concerns seriously, and treat you with dignity and respect.

 

We are so committed to accountability, that we ask anyone who is unhappy with their councillor, for whatever reason, to call us so that we can sort out the problem. If you have any complaints or suggestions about your municipality or your representative, please write to us or call us. We want to hear from you and we will take your thoughts on board. Moreover, we will regularly report back to you at community meetings.

 

I am proud of the fact that the IFP remains a party of integrity in an environment of dirty politics and power-hungry politicians. We have refused to compromise our integrity, even when it has meant that we cannot fight back in unfair fights. But even though our commitment to maintaining the high moral ground has allowed some of our opponents to malign us, it has also allowed us to point to our track record during every election and ask the electorate to make an informed decision on who has the experience and integrity to lead our country.

 

The IFP's integrity has been a stumbling block to the ruling Party for 35 years. We remain a stumbling block because of our determination to safeguard democracy and bring the power of governance closer to the people. We are bold enough to speak out against the creation of a welfare state, and call for a developmental state that enables the ideals of self-help and self-reliance to become reality. We have not kept silent about corruption at Ithala Bank. We have not looked the other way as the Youth League leads the ANC around by the nose.

 

The ruling Party is still intent on removing this stumbling block; the IFP. In every election since 1994, we have witnessed electoral fraud and irregularities aimed at swaying the balance of power further towards the ANC. We have engaged the Independent Electoral Commission on these matters, and exposed how the ANC busses people into areas in which they do not live to register and vote for the ANC. In this way, IFP strongholds appear to receive increasing ANC support.

 

This is not the lament of a declining party. It is a statement of fact. Let us not forget that in 2009 more people voted in Durban than were even registered in the first place. Let us not forget how election results have been declared in the past before counting has even been completed. The IFP is not alone in making these observations. They have been confirmed by the Democratic Alliance and by the Minority Party. The ANC has crippled smaller parties in the past, and it intends to cripple the IFP.

 

But I believe there is a groundswell of citizens who have seen through the empty promises and dirty politics, who are ready to cast their vote for an alternative of integrity. You are the ones who can turn the tide in our country. You are the ones who can safeguard the future of democracy. With your vote on the 18th of May, you can change the course of South Africa away from a steady decline, to a future of real possibilities.

 

The IFP wants to partner with the people of goodwill. We want to serve you and work for you, in a partnership that puts you first. As the President of the IFP, I ask you to strengthen the hand that works for you - vote for the IFP.

Our Party believes that South Africa deserves more than a tennis match of criticism. We deserve accountable leaders. For this reason, the IFP has taken bold steps towards creating a constituency system in the election of our representatives.

I was interested to read suggestions in the media recently that South Africa return to a constituency based electoral system. As Minister of Home Affairs for the first decade of our democracy, the Independent Electoral Commission fell under me as the line function Minister. The Commission which was appointed during that time recommended that South Africa adopt a composite electoral system; part proportional representation and part constituency based. In this way, we could ensure fair representation and simplicity of voting, while also achieving a measure of accountability.  But Cabinet rejected this recommendation. Thus South Africa is still bound by proportional representation only. Accordingly, in each election voters choose a party to represent them, rather than a person, and then rely on that party to choose who will be sent to Parliament and the Provincial Legislatures to be the voice of the electorate. Representatives are accountable to the party that gave them their position, instead of being directly accountable to the voters.

The IFP is concerned about this lack of accountability. In the 2009 general election, we therefore decided to give more power to the electorate by using a constituency based system to draw up our party lists. This enabled our supporters to decide for themselves who their representatives would be.  This brought about profound transformation in our party lists, both in terms of having new faces and in terms of senior leaders finding themselves lower down on the list, after many of their junior colleagues. This was true democracy in the making and a reflection of the IFP's commitment to accountability in leadership.

Because of this commitment and our unique approach to drawing up our party lists, our communities have the final say and no one has leadership forced upon them. In IFP municipalities you will never see the kind of violent protests that communities in ANC-led municipalities are being forced to engage, just to get their leadership to listen to them.

I sympathise with the community of Zandspruit, which has had to resort to protest action over a councillor whom they believe is not performing and is not keeping promises. Even in the face of violent protest, the councillor - whom the community has rejected - refuses to step down, because they have the backing of the ANC. The IFP does not condone violence, but we understand the depth of frustration that is causing people to rise up against their own leadership.

The culture of the IFP is different. We do not see service delivery protests in our municipalities, because we believe in listening to the people and responding to their concerns with genuine answers. I know that many South Africans have to contend with a certain amount of arrogance when you deal with government officials at any level. To the IFP, this is unacceptable. We believe in service first. We are here to serve you, not to tell you how important we are. For this reason, we advocate a code of conduct for all officials who deal with the public. 

Officials should be held responsible for their attitude, as well as their actions.

The IFP will keep taking steps towards greater accountability so that the electorate can instruct their representatives, rather than simply being informed after the fact about what is being done supposedly in their best interest. I regret that often this is the way governance is done, and the IFP is fighting to change it.

Our bold step towards creating a constituency based system reflected the tide of renewal that is refreshing the IFP. While our values remain uncompromised over 35 years, the IFP has evolved with the changing needs of our country. At this juncture, the greatest need in South Africa is for a leadership that will take a stand of integrity, point to the hard path, and walk it.

But our country's leadership is disappointing us, and our citizens are beginning to question their integrity. We saw this with the saga of our National Police Commissioner who was found guilty by the Public Protector of improper conduct and maladministration. Two weeks later, Police from the Crime Intelligence Unit raided the Public Protector's Office, demanding access to documentation used to make this guilty finding. The National Commissioner averred this was not done on his instruction. But if the Police are not operating on the instruction of their Head, who is instructing them?

 

Independent institutions like the Public Protector and the IEC were established to protect us from government just doing as it pleases.  They are one of the checks and balances we have put in place to protect the interests of our people from the at times conflicting interests of the ruling Party. For some time now I have warned that we need to strengthen and safeguard our independent institutions.

 

Beyond these institutions, we should be protected by the Constitution itself. But if the ANC attains the power it so persistently pursues through the destruction of opposition politics, it will have free reign to change the Constitution as it sees fit. For the ANC, bending the rules has always been a possibility.

 

One instance in which "bending the rules" is utterly unacceptable is when it comes to elections. The IFP stood against the floor crossing legislation which allowed elected representatives to change political parties between elections, taking their seat with them. This "cross-titution" expressed blatant contempt for the voters and the democratic process; it betrayed the mandate of the people.

 

Our elections over the past 17 years have been lauded as "free and fair". But they have not been without incidents of fraud and irregularities. Speaking at the launch of the 2011 Local Government Elections, the CEO of the IEC, Advocate Pansy Tlakula, admitted that, just as no human being is perfect, neither is the electoral process.

 

Since 1994 we have seen incidents of violence, intimidation, "buying"  of votes, brown envelope journalism and fraudulent registration. At the IEC Leaders' Summit I tabled my unhappiness over the fact that complaints about fraud at each election have never been addressed by the IEC. Quite often we are told that we did not present the complaint at the right time, or one or the other technical reason is given to explain why the IEC is hamstrung to investigate our complaints.

 

During the voter registration weekends in February and March this year, alarm was raised when some 400 people from Umlazi and KwaMashu were bussed into Umhlanga by the ANC, given false addresses and assisted to register. When they were questioned, some admitted to being offered bribes of money and job offers to vote for the ANC in Umhlanga on the 18th of May. The IEC was called upon to investigate this fraud.

 

But, as it stands, these fraudulent voters will get to vote on the 18th of May, because the IEC insists that once the date of the election is gazetted, there is nothing they can do. I disagree. In terms of section 8 of the Local Government Municipal Electoral Act, the IEC may request the Minister to postpone the voting day determined for an election if it is satisfied that "it is not reasonably possible to conduct a free and fair election on that day".

 

The date of the election should therefore not be the deciding factor, but rather the likelihood of a compromised election; which happens when there is fraud. Our citizens have questioned why the IEC does not require proof of residence when voters go to register, just as the banks require, or the cell phone companies or even clothing stores.  Surely ensuring a democratic electoral process that is beyond reproach is more important than registering a cell phone.

 

One citizen has even questioned why the IEC does not use transparent ballot boxes to ensure that no fraudulent votes are placed inside the boxes prior to voting. Our citizens are thinking of innovative ways to safeguard our democracy. Shouldn't our Government be doing the same thing?

 

I am concerned about the change to the electoral law which came as a result of agitation by POPCRU, to extend the Special Vote to municipal elections. The IFP supports the Special Vote, in that it offers an opportunity for the elderly and the ailing to vote without having to stand in long queues on voting day. The Special Vote now allows anyone who cannot vote on the 18th of May, for whatever reason, to vote on the 16th.

 

Our concern is that the Special Vote has been severely abused in past elections to commit electoral fraud. We therefore call on all IEC officials, Party Agents and members of the public to be vigilant against fraud. This election is about you. Don't let yourself be cheated out of the leadership you choose. Don't let a result be engineered through fraud, because that will nullify the very purpose of a democratic election.

 

I have spoken in Parliament, during the debate on the President's state of the nation address, about the threat to democracy created by the ruling Party's determined pursuit of hegemony. I pointed out that some ANC leaders have supported a bid to destroy the IFP, with both propaganda and money. We have clear and overwhelming evidence in this regard, which I first took to the President and then to the Deputy President, before coming face to face with the reality that I would have to go public if I wanted answers.

 

It has pained me to see the IFP abused in the media, particularly by the same journalists and the same newspapers again and again. I presented Parliament with a leaked document which alleges that a certain editor has been paid off to protect our opposition from any negative publicity. The veracity of the document is hardly questionable when we see, day after day, our opposition being promoted while we are slated, often on the same page.

 

The IFP has had to approach the Press Ombudsman several times to correct lies in the media. The trend towards irresponsible journalism is deeply worrying, for many of our people believe everything they read, regardless of factual inaccuracies, poor investigative reporting and blatant assumptions. There is a good deal of bias in our media which favours the elite and the rich.

 

But there are also some remarkably astute and ethical journalists who do our country a great service by getting to the bottom of the nonsense. I would challenge those men and women to investigate who oils the propaganda machine that has been turned against the IFP for the last 35 years. We know that in the previous regime the SABC was instructed to sideline Inkatha. But whose instruction is our media following now?

 

The IFP has always swum against the tide and we have drawn a lot of criticism and ire from those who wish to run roughshod over the genuine will and interests of the people. We swam against the tide when I refused to accept nominal independence for KwaZulu, which the apartheid regime dangled before me as the Chief Minister of the erstwhile KwaZulu Government. The kind of independence they offered would have seen millions of black South Africans become foreigners in their own land. Even when we won the vote, we would have remained disenfranchised.

 

Former President FW de Klerk admitted before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that my rejection of independence for KwaZulu was the anvil on which the grand scheme of apartheid was finally crushed. The IFP led Government of KwaZulu made apartheid untenable. But we had no desire to become known as the official liberator of South Africa. We were not in it for the glory, but for the people. Thus when the Nationalist Party offered to negotiate a bilateral settlement with me as the sole representative of the disenfranchised majority, I said no. Release the political prisoners, I told them. Bring our exiles home. Then we can talk.

 

The IFP is on the side of the people. We are not on the side of power, or money or prestige. As I have said, the IFP wants to partner with the people of goodwill. We want to serve you and work for you, in a partnership that puts you first. For this has been the way of the IFP for the past 35 years. We know that South Africa is no longer on a learning curve. After seventeen years, there are just some things our Government should already know. Corruption is taking its toll and arrogance comes at a cost. The price of our leaders' arrogance is being paid by our citizens. It is too high a cost.

 

I call on our citizens to be introspective as we cast our votes on the 18th of May. Let us consider the true state of our nation. Let us consider the objectives enshrined in our Constitution and whether we have achieved democracy, or are still pursuing it. I believe we still have a long road to walk before we can say that we have arrived at a point where liberty, democracy and equality underpin not only the policies, but the actions of our Government.

 

The IFP is committed to walking this road. We do so hand in hand with the people of South Africa. We know that this election is about you. 

We know that a strong IFP depends on you. The IFP is fighting your cause because we are on the side of the people. I ask you to strengthen our fight by supporting us on May the 18th.

 

It now gives me great pleasure to take a pledge as the President of the Inkatha Freedom Party for the 2011 Local Government Elections.

 

Together with you, I will hold IFP councillors accountable for their actions. I will insist on the highest standards of good governance, of ethical behaviour and of responsiveness to the community. My Party will strictly enforce this and we will fire those who fail to comply.  I will hold every one of our councillors to their commitment of being a person of integrity; who is open with you, fair with you and includes you in decision-making. We will ensure that our councillors are accountable to you and insist that they are available at all times. We will take your concerns seriously and treat you with dignity and respect. I pledge the IFP to work for you and with you, for the IFP knows it is all about you.

 

I thank you.