Abaqulusi Local Municipality Budget Roadshow
Address By Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP
President Of The Inkatha Freedom Party
Inkosi of the Buthelezi Clan and
Chairperson: Zululand District House of Traditional Leaders

 


 

Vryheid : 3 May 2010

 

Members of the Zulu Royal Family, Amakhosi, His Worship the Mayor Councillor Dlamini, His Worship the Deputy Mayor Councillor Jones and the Deputy Mayoress Mrs Jones, the Municipal Manager Mr Bonga Ntanzi and Mrs Ntanzi, our Members of Parliament, and our members of the Legislature, Indunas, Councillors, members of the Municipal Civil Service, Members of the South African Police Force and members of all government departments, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.

 

I am honoured to participate in the presentation of the budget for the Abaqulusi Local Municipality to the people this municipality serves. 

In terms of the Constitution of South Africa, one of the objectives of local government is to encourage the involvement of communities and community organizations in matters of local government. Today Abaqulusi Municipality is fulfilling that objective by being accountable to the people it serves and by making government accessible.

 

At this third tier level of Government, ordinary South Africans have the benefit of knowing the people whom they have elected to serve them and of being able to talk to them on a one-to-one basis. Your leaders are here. They want to hear what you have to say. They want to know how best to serve you. And today, they want to give an account of all that has been done and all that is planned for the future with the budget for 2010.

 

Let me say upfront that I am proud of the work this municipality is doing. Abaqulusi is one of the few municipalities that has received an unqualified audit report from the Auditor General. That means that it is functioning as a good steward of the money and resources allocated from the provincial budget. It has been given a clean bill of health as far as corruption is concerned, and there is no suggestion that money is being squandered or frittered away. For this, I congratulate the Mayor and his team in Abaqulusi.  And I congratulate both the previous Municipal Manager Advocate Mathenjwa and the present Municipal Manager Mr Ntanzi and their team of civil servants who had financial responsibility.

 

Nevertheless, I have no doubt that the people this municipality serves have many questions about service delivery and many concerns about how money is being spent. This municipality, like government departments everywhere, is cash strapped. There is only so much that it can achieve. I know that people's expectations are very high when it comes to what your municipality should do for you.  In the old democracies in the west, municipalities do not depend on government grants only.  

They have a tax base and collect rates from the people they serve.  

Most unfortunately, the majority of the people who live in our municipal areas are poor people. And the budgets that are given to municipalities are limited when looked at against the number of people such budgets must serve.

 

In other parts of South Africa, people's dissatisfaction with the way the ANC runs municipalities has grown so strong that protests and social disruption are the order of the day. I am grateful that we do not see that kind of upheaval here, but I am not tempted to believe that everyone is satisfied with the level of service delivery. I know that even here service delivery is slower than we hoped and does not cover as much as we wished for various reasons.  But often we tend to forget that the budgets that are available in our municipalities are limited.  So failure to address all the needs of the community are not always a result of just sheer inefficiency on the part of the Municipal Council to render service delivery.

 

In terms of our Constitution every South African has the right to decent housing, healthcare, education, sanitation and water. But when the full budget of this Municipality is considered, one has to face the fact that - no matter how you slice it - the pie is just not big enough to satisfy everyone's hunger. It is therefore vital that we use what we have wisely and effectively, maximizing the value of every cent.

 

I know that, just like every Government Department both provincially and nationally, the budgets of local municipalities are substantially used to run the municipalities. Little remains for the development projects that are needed to address poverty. This creates ill feeling within the community and a sense that local government is not doing all that it could or should. Next year, the electorate will be going to the polling stations to vote in the 2011 Local Government Elections. That is the moment when the voice of the people will speak loudly about these issues.

 

Knowing the enormous need that exists in this area and knowing that the Municipality is working hard, I am distressed by the antics of a few Councillors who seem to care more for padding their own pockets than they do for alleviating poverty. It should concern us when any leader puts their own interests first, because selfish ambition is destructive to the collective good. I have warned before that the fish rots from the head. When leaders take a little more than they give, they give the example that some are more deserving than others and that a bit of power bestows upon one the right to come first, get more and do less.

 

That is totally contrary to the culture of service that should pervade government. It is disheartening that this Municipality has become a hotbed of activity of the so-called "Friends of VZ" who are intent on destroying the IFP's legacy. They want to see the IFP weakened to such an extent that they will be able to snatch away the leadership. And they are weakening the Party by undermining everything that is good about the IFP.

 

This Party has always been based on discipline and respect. But now discipline is disintegrating because of the activities of the "Friends of VZ". This is having a negative impact on service delivery in Abaqulusi, and that is where it becomes completely unacceptable. The IFP has internal party structures to deal with insubordination. We have a Party Constitution which guides our actions. We have a leadership of integrity and a strong moral conscience. And we have no patience with people who willingly compromise the good of the people for the sake of their own name and status.

 

It is a fact that some of the Councillors in this Municipality have paid some of the expenses for so called prayer meetings held by "the friends of VZ" from tax payers money.  That is nothing short of corruption. There are people who are prepared to confirm this on oath and some have actually made affidavits to that effect.  I was distressed to be told that one radio programme suggested that during my visit here on Tuesday I accused the municipality of corruption.  

Ever since efforts were made by the ruling Party to take over this municipality, it has always had a clean unqualified audit.  Taxpayers' money should never be used to further the political agenda of individuals. I regret that some of our Councillors have been tainted by this corruption.   Such people prove that some of our Councillors care more about their own political eminence than about serving the interests of the communities that they are supposed to serve.

 

This is not the IFP way. This is the first time that taxpayers' money has been used by people entrusted with service delivery to promote selfish political agendas. The worst of it is that our people are living in gut-wrenching poverty, so that wasting money is tantamount to starving our people. Clearly the IFP is not immune to corruption, but it is new to us and is not something we should allow to take root. 

We see the disease of corruption at every level in the public service, to the extent that even the country's President bemoaned its prevalence during last week's Freedom Day celebrations.

 

Corruption has found its way into our Party through the hairline fracture of division that has been opened by the "Friends of VZ". Each and every political party in South Africa has internal divisions. We saw that clearly with the breakaway from the ANC of COPE. And we see it in opposition parties as well, which is bad news for democracy, because democracy relies on the ruling party having a vibrant and effective opposition.

 

Rifts within the IFP are damaging to service delivery and damaging to democracy. The IFP is at the helm of this Municipality and we are seeing how the carefully manipulated succession debate is affecting service delivery here. People who have received tenders and jobs from our District Municipality have been involved in corrupting our members with money. Greed and selfish ambition have distracted some Councillors. It is time they turned their focus back to the needs of the people. Let us not forget the challenges our people face.

 

Just over a third of the people living in this area are infected with HIV/Aids and the number is still climbing. Already this has a substantial effect on the quality of life of the people this municipality serves, whether they are struggling with ill health, or caring for a sick family member or supporting children who have lost parents to this disease. The presence of HIV/Aids places an added burden on municipalities by increasing the need for social services and healthcare.

 

The available workforce is also diminished, which decreases productivity in an area where unemployment is already high. This not only affects industries, but individual households, particularly where subsistence farming is the source of food security. If the person who usually works the land becomes too weak or ill to work, who will put food on the table? We know that there are many child-headed households in Zululand, just as there are across South Africa. We know that there are people struggling to survive and struggling for a better quality of life.

 

As we face these challenges, it is difficult to see the country's leadership less than fully committed to fight the scourge of HIV/Aids. 

Recently, the President of South Africa, Mr Jacob Zuma, publically announced that he is HIV negative. We are pleased for his health. 

Nevertheless, it is a pity that everybody knows the President had unprotected intercourse with a young lady who was HIV positive. 

Considering that misconceptions, superstitions and widespread ignorance around HIV/Aids still abound, we cannot afford for people to think that they can get away with risky behaviour.  The negative status of our President, which we are all happy about, might give the wrong signals that one can have unprotected sex with an HIV positive woman, and not be infected.

 

There is always a risk involved when it comes to HIV. Forgoing a condom is not worth it. Having multiple partners is not worth it. 

Exposing others by not knowing or disclosing your own status is not worth it. The risk involved in HIV/Aids is more than your health. 

There is a risk that you will not be able to work and support yourself. There is a risk that your life will be shortened. There is a risk that others will need to look after you. And there is always the risk that there will just not be enough resources for government to help.

 

A substantial number of people living here have no income and many more live below the breadline. Poverty is a serious problem in Abaqulusi. But still, the struggle we face here is repeated in communities across South Africa. Indeed, the fact that people are poor, or have little access to education, or need better housing, or lack resources for development, is not newsworthy, because the plight of people in Abaqulusi is the plight of people throughout our country. 

This area is not often in the headlines.

 

It is shortsighted to think that the perspectives moulded throughout the long history of South Africa can be transformed in just a few years. I think of the history even of this area, and how it is filled with memories both of patriotism and division. The Abaqulusi area was ruled by my great great great maternal Aunt, Princess Mkabayi ka Jama. 

This is an area of great warriors of our Kingdom. The Princess herself played a very important role in the affairs of the Zulu Royal House.

 

I stated in my address here last Tuesday that whenever I visit the Abaqulusi Municipality I cannot help being reminded of the great valour of the past heroes of this region.  I mentioned some of them.

 

I think that history should be an inspiration to all of us to keep up our pride on the valour of our forebears.  I still believe that in spite of the negative things I have mentioned in this address, the Abaqulusi Municipality can still be a role model of other municipalities.  The history I shared with you during the Freedom Day celebrations should be an inspiration to the leaders and the people of this municipality.  It is very important that we should resist with all the means at our disposal the widening of rifts amongst us; created by mischief-makers such as "the friends of VZ".  Ever since this phenomenon began, Councillors in most of the Zululand District Municipalities are split from top to bottom.  We have such awful challenges to face as a Nation that we cannot afford to be divided.  

This applies to divisions along Party lines and divisions within one Party such as we see just now in the Party that is at the helm in this municipality.

 

Our people's needs are so vast such as poverty, crime, HIV/Aids, ignorance, etc that we will not be able to defeat anyone of them if we allow even political divisions along Party lines to keep us apart. 

There cannot be differences that can prevent us from working together to tackle these giants merely because we want to emphasize our Party differences even when it is not necessary. I am not saying that we should sub-merge our political identities. No. But I am certain that there are issues where we can all sing from the same hymn sheet even if we belong to different parties.  The word cleavage is the one which has been engineered by "the friends of VZ" within a Party that at present has the responsibility of leading this municipality.  A lot of energy and time has been dissipated in the fruitless activities that the representatives of the people in this Council have been indulging in ever since we were struck by "the friends of VZ" bug within the IFP.

 

I am not sure if the majority of voters will be impressed to cast their votes for people who can indulge in the kind of silly activities we have seen such as bogus prayer meetings that have been organized.  

I do not think that they can forgive those who are guilty of using their taxpayers' money to finance these puerile games that are being played by the so-called "friends of VZ."

 

During the liberation struggle the ruling Party introduced the idea of making the country "ungovernable" and making the townships "ungovernable." I took the opposite view that it was wrong to use that strategy of ungovernability and argued that if we made the country and townships "ungovernable" they would continue to be ungovernable even after we had taken over the ruling of the country.  I think that in this Province I can say that the fact that we are not experiencing so much of the chaos which includes burning of facilities and tyres is partly because of the stand I took against that strategy during the liberation struggle.  Therefore, coteries which are indulging in the activities such as those of "the friends of VZ" where Councillors no longer care about service delivery but are only thinking of their own positions, may find that they will trigger off  the same kind of activities even in this Province.

 

We are only a few months from the high noon where the voters will give their verdict on whether such political frolicking has advanced their cause in any way.

 

I wish to end once again congratulating Abaqulusi Municipality for such a good record of service delivery.  And I hope that this municipality will keep up this record.  And I have no doubt that with the quality of accounting officers that this municipality is blessed with; there is no reason why it should not be so.

 

There is a rich history in Abaqulusi and there is every reason for us to continue to pursue national unity here. It is only when we agree to work together as one people, equally deserving and equally responsible, that we will be able to create a better quality of life. 

As I have said, there is only so much that any government structure can do. This Municipality is doing a good job, which can be judged by its audit reports. But no matter how hard your Councillors work, all the needs will remain unmet unless we all get onboard and make our own contribution.

 

Abaqulusi needs the contribution of community members to make things work. I encourage you today to stop asking why your municipality hasn't done this or delivered that. Instead, start asking what you can do to make it work better. Everyone has a part to play in the future success of this place. Women have a special role, as you are the centre of the home and have great influence within your own spheres. I urge you to teach your families not to wait for hand outs that will never come. The IFP believes in self-help and self-reliance. We believe in partnerships between government and communities. The government's job should be to help people to help themselves.

 

We believe in governing from the ground up, because we know it is essential that the people we serve have a direct say in how things are done. I am therefore pleased to participate in this budget roadshow which expresses the IFP's values of governing in partnership and staying accountable. I therefore thank you, all of you, for coming here today.

 

 

Contact:
Liezl van der Merwe
082 729 2510