Role of Political Parties in Promoting Electoral Democracy
Remarks By Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP
President of the Inkatha Freedom Party

Sandton Convention Centre: 3 March 2011 

The Inkatha Freedom Party is committed to free and fair democratic elections.  

The Independent Electoral Commission was established under my leadership as the Minister of Home Affairs during the first ten years of democracy. I brought together the best national and international minds to construct an electoral system that serves the interests of all the people of South Africa. 

I am proud that the IEC has gone from strength to strength, and has now overseen three national and provincial elections, and two municipal elections. In May 2011, the IEC will preside over South Africa's fourth Local Government Election since we achieved democracy.

 In the past seventeen years, South Africa has boasted free and fair elections. But our elections have not been without incidents of fraud, corruption and dirty tricks. It has been a source of great concern to the IFP that the election campaigns of political parties inevitably descend into mudslinging matches and propaganda wars. 

The IFP is a party of integrity. We have never used deceit and treachery to blindside the voting public. We rejected floor crossing legislation as political prostitution. We have never made promises that could not be fulfilled. We respect the voters' intelligence and our people's right to be armed with the truth. 

But on the political battlefield, integrity is considered a weakness, and the IFP has suffered many setbacks for our uncompromising commitment to honesty and the high moral ground.  

We operate in an environment of brown envelope journalism, where politicians pay journalists to promote their cause, or damage the cause of their opponents. We operate in an environment in which the majority party busses people into areas where they do not hold popular support, and registers them to vote there - in order to assure a fraudulent victory.  

For seventeen years the IFP has highlighted electoral fraud and irregularities in the voting process. We have engaged the IEC and submitted formal complaints. One of our greatest concerns for May 2011 is the security vulnerability of the new "Special Vote". We have seen the Special Vote abused in general elections and we warn electoral officials to be vigilant for fraud in 2011. 

While I am proud of what our country has achieved, I fear for the survival of democracy if we ignore these incidents of fraud for the sake of declaring a free and fair election. I believe we should all be concerned about the driving force behind electoral fraud. 

There is a serious threat of South Africa becoming a one party state if we allow opposition parties to be systematically destroyed through propaganda, dirty tricks and electoral fraud. The IFP believes in a strong opposition, for the sake of a strong democracy. The ruling Party must be kept on its toes by a strong opposition. 

In generations past, South Africans struggled for liberation. I fear the struggle of this generation will be to preserve a democratic order that is more fragile than we think.