Edgewood College, Pinetown: 3 December 2011
Our meeting today takes place in a very
worrying atmosphere. We need to be aware of the consequences of
the choices we make at this conference, for they will decide a
good deal of the future for the IFP. There has been a lot of
scrambling ahead of this elective conference, which is somehow
unprecedented in our Party's history. It has nothing to do with
the flourishing of democracy. Instead, it is a symptom of the
atmosphere of corruption that has permeated politics in our
South Africa faces the enormous task of
eradicating the kind of corruption that has taken root in our
body politic. The ruling Party has been quite open about the
problems they face because of tenderpreneurs, bribes and vote
buying. Unfortunately, this kind of corruption also entered the
IFP with the antics of the "Friends of VZ". We witnessed the
setting up of bogus branches, bribery of members and leaders,
the enrichment of tenderpreneurs and the buying of votes.
For all practical purposes, the "Friends of
VZ" have left the IFP. But the remnants of the culture of
corruption are lingering.
It appears that we still have some
tenderpreneurs in this Party. The culture that was inculcated in
them during the time of the "Friends of VZ" still poisons their
conscience. Somehow they developed a taste for the spoils of
corruption and resent having to return to honest work. I rue the
day that the "Friends of VZ" brought this problem into our
It grieves me at this time when I am on my way
out, as I have indicated many times before, that the Party for
which I sacrificed so much could be destroyed by corruption.
Many people have made great sacrifices for the IFP, even giving
their lives for our Party. We cannot allow the corruption that
has permeated every corner of our country to drive the IFP to
Ever since the inception of this Party, we
have been led by the requirements of our Constitution when it
comes to electing leaders. In terms of our Constitution, it is
the responsibility and prerogative of National Council to
propose names which can be accepted or rejected by delegates to
conference. But now it seems we have a new tendency, unheard of
in the past, of taking this responsibility away from the members
of National Council.
Instead, people want to come in with names
based on deals that have been made outside the structures of the
Party. They want to foist these names on conference in order to
make sure that their agendas are implemented by whatever puppet
they put up as a candidate. The tragedy is that while they are
doing these things, they are trying to cover themselves by
claiming it is democracy. It is not democracy. It is corruption.
The problem in the ruling Party is caused by
the culture of tenderpreneurship, just as is the case in our
Party since the emergence of the "Friends of VZ".
Tenderpreneurs, who do not give two hoots in hell about the
interests of people on the ground, are bent on putting "leaders"
in place in both parties - through money - whom they can
manipulate to serve their financial interests. That is the rot
we are facing in both parties. In short, they want to have as
incumbents in our leadership effigies that they can manipulate.
I challenge this conference to reject
corruption and pursue what is in your best interests. It's up to
you to know what is best in KwaZulu Natal; what is best for the
IFP. I regret that some leaders have not played fair with the
rest of us. Their leadership has left the Party in disarray. We
have suffered setbacks precisely because of the havoc they
wreaked in KwaZulu Natal. If this province is led by weak
people, this Party will not stop sliding downwards towards
If there is anything this conference must do,
it is to improve the quality and type of leadership we have in
this province. We need leaders who can help our members in
KwaZulu Natal to rise to the occasion and recover our Party's
soul. We need leaders who can repair the damage caused by the
"Friends of VZ" and the NFP. We need leaders who are free of the
lingering scent of corruption. This is the important task before
We meet today just weeks before our Annual
General Conference. We meet because our Constitution requires
it, and because the future of our Party depends on it. We meet
because the IFP believes in upholding constitutionality, order
and discipline. Ours is a party of integrity, in which leaders
are held accountable and unity is pursued. We seek a strong and
unified Party in order to deliver on the mandate given to us by
hundreds of thousands of South Africans, many of whom live in
this province. Our goal remains to serve the people and to
alleviate the weight of the heavy burdens our country is forced
When we chose the name "Inkatha", we had this
mission in mind. At that time, the majority of our people
carried the terrible burden of political oppression and racial
segregation. We faltered under the weight of underdevelopment,
poverty, discrimination, disease, ignorance from lack of
education, inferior health services, inferior infrastructure,
and inferiority before the law. It was a terrible burden to
carry. Inkatha ye Nkululeko ye Sizwe intended to alleviate the
burden; and we did, in both tangible and intangible ways.
On a practical level, we brought people
together, equipping them with skills, assisting them to create
resources and encouraging them towards self-help and
self-reliance. Through the erstwhile KwaZulu Government, Inkatha
worked hand in hand with oppressed South Africans, and together
we built houses, schools and clinics. We opened roads and
community centres. We started community development projects and
cooperatives. We gave entrepreneurs access to seed capital
through the KwaZulu Finance Corporation, and we gave workers
access to collective bargaining through the first black trade
But the achievements of Inkatha were not only
practical, tangible and visible. They were also psychological,
for we changed the way people saw themselves and we changed the
future they could envision. We did not simply build schools. We
also built a yearning for knowledge into the fabric of society,
by showing people that education is a necessary tool for
liberation. We did not just build houses. We built family values
into the fabric of our communities, calling on parents to take
responsibility for their children, and children to respect their
parents. We inculcated a respect for those who are older than
ourselves and for those in authority.
By giving entrepreneurs access to seed
capital, we ensured that individuals could change their own
circumstances and rise out of the cycle of poverty so that they,
in turn, could create jobs and opportunities for others. We were
changing the mindset that Apartheid tried to forge. The
Apartheid Government knew that the only way to prevent a
political and social uprising of the disenfranchised majority
was to keep them ignorant, hopeless, poor and afraid. Inkatha
knew that South Africa could be broken out of this manufactured
cage, but it would require changing the way South Africans saw
I founded Inkatha ye Nkululeko ye Sizwe in
1975, after a visit to Lusaka where I went to thank President
Kenneth Kaunda for giving sanctuary to our country's political
exiles. President Kaunda advised me to consider forming a
membership-based organization to draw our people together. The
ANC and other political parties had been banned since 1960, and
there was almost a lull in our liberation struggle as the
disenfranchised majority no longer had a centre holding us
together within South Africa.
When I returned from Lusaka, I sought the
guidance of Bishop Alphaeus Zulu and Mr Oliver Tambo, who was
then the President of the ANC's mission-in-exile, in London.
They agreed to the creation of a membership-based organization,
and in March of 1975 Inkatha was launched as a National Cultural
Liberation Movement. We could, of course, not launch Inkatha as
a purely political formation, for it would immediately have been
banned, thus defeating its purpose. The Improper Interference
Act also limited us in terms of who could join Inkatha, but it
did not prevent us from recruiting people of other ethnic groups
in other provinces. We launched Inkatha here, but it was not a
In fact, Inkatha's membership grew so quickly
and was so diverse that within two short years it became a
serious concern to the Nationalist Government. In September
1977, the then Minister of Justice, Police and Prisons, Mr Jimmy
Kruger, summoned me to Pretoria and tried to intimidate me into
accepting only Zulu-speaking people into Inkatha. I told him
that as long as the National Party took whites of all ethnic
groups as members, I had the same right to recruit Africans of
all ethnic groups into Inkatha. Soon we boasted more than a
million card-carrying members.
We regarded recruitment of membership into the
organization as our priority. Today the present leadership,
especially in this Province, has completely ignored the primary
work of recruiting membership. It is not surprising that the
Party has had setbacks both in the 2009 general election and
during the local government elections of the 18th of May this
year. It has been a disgrace that our leaders, particularly in
this Province, have been satisfied with either 50 membership
branches or 100 membership branches. In the past, we recruited
membership right across all ethnic barriers throughout the
It was the Apartheid state that drove
propaganda to label Inkatha as an ethnic organization, and a
provincial organization. It was a bald-faced lie, meant to stop
Inkatha's growth beyond the Zulu-speaking population in KwaZulu.
Later, when the ANC launched its vilification campaign against
me and Inkatha, it served them well to continue this lie and
pretend that Inkatha was insignificant, no more than a place
holder for the rightful liberators of South Africa, and little
more than a thorn in their flesh. They told this lie for years,
pretending Inkatha would disappear into history.
But in April 2002, former President Nelson
Mandela finally had to admit, "We have used every ammunition to
destroy (Buthelezi), but we failed. And he is still there. He is
a formidable survivor. We cannot ignore him." Earlier this year
we had another glimpse into the ANC's frustration at our
indomitable survival, when what were allegedly minutes of an ANC
meeting were anonymously sent to my office. In part, that
document read -
"Members of the ANC throughout the province
need to be alert and aware that our rivals Inkatha Freedom Party
has a history of defeating the odds and win back their ravaged
areas. Therefore, the ANC President is calling on all comrades
to be cautious not to take their road mobilization and
recruitment lightly especially within Inkatha strong holds.
Because Inkatha has strong strategic values as proclaimed by
Comrade Magwaza Msibi during the briefing on the 5th December
As much as our opponents like to pretend
otherwise, they have taken the measure of the IFP and they know
we are still a force to be reckoned with.
The history of Inkatha's birth within the
history of South Africa has resulted in much of our support
emanating from this province. While we are a national party -
represented by 18 Members of Parliament in the National Assembly
- whether we like it or not, most of our votes come from KwaZulu
Natal. That makes KwaZulu Natal strategic for the Party as a
whole. Our strength here will determine our strength nationally.
For this reason, this provincial conference is
critical to the IFP's future. This conference is where we must
decide in our own hearts whether we are still survivors, or are
throwing in the towel.
I want you to emerge from this provincial
conference knowing that our Annual General Conference will be a
milestone in the history of the IFP. Not because it marks our
end, but because it is the moment of rebirth for a Party that
has never accepted defeat. We have gone through a fire storm of
testing. Our Party has been shaken from the head to the roots.
The NFP split took a toll on our image and our unity, and also
on the confidence of IFP supporters. We lost a substantial
percentage of the votes.
In the midst of the battle with the "Friends
of VZ" and the treachery of Mrs kaMagwaza-Msibi, the IFP became
inward focused. We sought to fight the fires our enemies were
lighting everywhere, for the sake of preserving the legacy of
our Party and the Party itself. But while we were doing this,
the political landscape of South Africa was shifting and no
party remained unaffected by the undercurrents of change. In
truth, this change was being manufactured, and the ructions in
the IFP were merely the first visible signs of a political plot
that was rising to the surface.
This plot is much bigger than the NFP. It is a
plot to dramatically change the leadership structures of the
African National Congress. I have said it before and, no matter
how much it irks the NFP, I will say it again; the NFP was
birthed with ANC money. Some leaders in the ANC saw within Mrs
kaMagwaza-Msibi the opportunity to split the IFP, in the hope
that they might weaken us to the point of destruction, while
also creating an ally who could deliver traditionally IFP voters
to strengthen the ANC.
They fomented the ructions in our Party
through propaganda and money.
Corruption was brought into the IFP and
violence was ignited. The "Friends of VZ" saga claimed lives,
and the NFP-IFP tensions continue to spill over into violence.
In the end, the plot to split the IFP succeeded, and Mrs
kaMagwaza-Msibi announced through the media that she was leaving
the IFP. Many IFP members followed her; some disillusioned with
two years of infighting, some falling for the lies of
propaganda, and some lured away with promises of money and
The Local Government Elections of May this
year exposed a lot of hidden truth. First, they exposed the
extent of the damage the NFP and ANC had wrought on our Party,
as the election results saw us losing ground in most
municipalities. But then they also exposed Mrs kaMagwaza-Msibi's
debt to the ANC. When KwaZulu Natal emerged from the Local
Government Elections with 19 hung municipalities, the NFP leader
had to make a decision about who she would co-govern with in
order to make those municipalities functional.
She knew she owed the ANC, but she desperately
didn't want her indebtedness to be exposed to her supporters.
She didn't want people to know that the NFP was a creation of
ANC leaders. So she created an insurmountable obstacle towards a
coalition with the IFP; she demanded - through the media - that
I apologise for saying the NFP was birthed with ANC money. She
was not asking me to apologise for speaking the truth. She was
asking me to deny the truth was ever true.
Of course I could not do it. She knew I could
not do it. And she wasted no time embracing a coalition with the
ANC to take over the hung municipalities in KwaZulu Natal. The
NFP made a grand show of saying they had consulted their people
and that this coalition between the NFP and the ANC was what the
people wanted. But the people did not vote for an ANC
leadership. If the people had wanted the ANC to lead them, they
would have voted for an ANC leadership. They did not. Yet that
is it what they got, thanks to the NFP.
Almost immediately the dissatisfaction of NFP
members became evident.
In the Umlalazi and Umtshezi municipalities,
NFP Councillors voted against their ANC coalition partners and
against the commands of the NFP leadership. Despite the
announcement of an ANC-NFP coalition, the IFP's Stan Larkan was
elected unopposed as Mayor in Umlalazi and the IFP's Mrs Xulu as
Speaker. The NFP took a Deputy Speaker position, while the ANC
simply walked out. Clearly the people did not ask for an ANC-NFP
coalition in Umlalazi. In fact, this coalition was not the will
of the people at all. It was the will of the ANC, and the price
of the NFP's debt. This phenomenon was replicated in other
municipalities, such as Hlabisa and Mtubatuba.
The ANC-NFP coalition opened ructions within
the NFP. Many former IFP members who are now within the NFP
regret their decision to leave.
Some have returned to the IFP, but some remain
in the NFP dissatisfied and angry. They would rather work with
the IFP than with the ANC. In almost all the municipalities that
were taken over by the ANC-NFP coalition, there is infighting
and backstabbing going on. The difficulty with a party that is
born out of treachery, is that treachery remains within its
ranks. Surely Mrs kaMagwaza-Msibi must be wondering about the
loyalty of her cohorts, when their loyalty could be bought to
begin with. She forgets that they are copying her own treachery
to me and the Party.
But the ructions within the NFP are not unique
to the NFP. There are ructions emerging in every political
party, from the Democratic Alliance to the ANC. The DA handles
its internal problems with more grace than the ANC, but there
has been backbiting within the DA that threatens to divide its
leadership. Within the ruling Party, there is division on every
single issue and, as the ANC draws closer to its 2012 conference in Mangaung, the battle for
its leadership is pulling the leadership apart.
The suspension of ANC Youth League leader, Mr
Julius Malema, is not the end of the Malema saga. There is a
rebellion within the ANC Youth League which is continuing even
now, and it will not stop until it forces a radical change of
leadership in the ANC. The star of ANC President, Mr Jacob Zuma,
is growing paler by the day. It just may be that history will
remember him not as a star, but a meteor. He rose to power with
the support of the "Friends of JZ", but where is his support
now? It seems the same puppet masters who orchestrated the split
in our Party have their sights set on leading the ANC.
All of these ructions within the various
political parties create an opportunity for the IFP. That is the
opportunity to regain the political space which is rightfully
ours. The goal of regaining control of KwaZulu Natal is not
unrealistic. Politics is, after all, the art of the possible. We
have not been unaffected by the internal wars that are plaguing
politics in South Africa, but the difference is that our war is
over. We got through it. The IFP has gone through the most
dramatic process of change, but we can surely now say that it is
behind us. What lies ahead, is the opportunity to rebuild.
That is the opportunity that our Annual
General Conference must grasp.
Let us look at this from the right
perspective. The results of the Local Government Elections
restored the IFP to its position as the third largest political
party in South Africa. Across South Africa more than a million
votes of support were cast for the IFP, whether they were for an
IFP councillor, an IFP-run municipality or an IFP-led district.
Voters were given two or three ballot papers on which to make
their choice, and some 1.3 million times the people chose the
We are still a force to be reckoned with; not
only because of the strength of our supporters, but because we
remain an obstacle to the ruling Party in its quest to promote a
one party state and a centralised government. We have proven to
the ANC, and to ourselves, that the IFP is not a regional party,
or an ethnic party, or an insignificant party that is going to
fade away into the shadow of the ANC. Now is the time to prove
to South Africa that we are more unified, more focused and more
disciplined than any other political party.
We have the opportunity to regain through our
ranks and support all those who, through confusion or error,
left us to go to the NFP. And we can grow beyond our former
members. It is not only disillusioned NFP members who will come
to the IFP. These unstable political times will create
disillusioned ANC members, disillusioned DA members and
disillusioned COPE members. South Africans of all political
affiliation are looking around for a party that is not wracked
with internal strife, backbiting and power plays.
The IFP has weathered that storm. We have come
through to the other side and are rebuilding a more unified,
more focused, more efficient party. We are still backed by the
legacy of the IFP which extends to 36 years of integrity, service delivery,
long-term vision and sound leadership. But, in many ways, we are
starting anew. I want to see this conference embrace the
possibilities of the present times, and carry that energy into
our Annual General Conference.
We meet today to fulfill a constitutional
mandate, to ensure that we send bona fide, good faith delegates
to Conference. The disappointing results of the 2009 general
election and the painful consequences of the Local Government
Elections have left us with no doubt that we need to work hard
in this province to get the IFP as a whole back to where we were
before. KwaZulu Natal is a strategic place for the IFP. It is
here that we must focus our energy.
The ructions caused by the "Friends of VZ"
brought corruption into the IFP and many bogus branches were
established to send delegates to Conference who would be
specifically tasked with disrupting our elections and creating
chaos in our midst. This plot was so well known that even the
National Commissioner of Police, General Bheki Cele, came to see
me to warn that holding our Conference while the ructions were
taking place would almost certainly end in violence. He advised
us against holding Conference and we had to postpone.
Before the "Friends of VZ", the IFP had an
unblemished track record of integrity. We operated as a clean
party, without fraud and corruption.
Now that the "Friends of VZ" have left the
IFP, we must rid our Party of even the lingering scent of
corruption. We must ensure, in this venue, that we will send
legitimate delegates to Conference next month. This is only the
beginning of the hard work that lies ahead of us, but it is an
important foundation that must be laid. In the coming weeks and
months and years, the IFP will need to work hard to reclaim our
rightful space in the political landscape.
I must confess that I have been very
disappointed by the quality and contribution of the leadership
of this Province. After Mrs kaMagwaza-Msibi, her so-called
"Friends of VZ" and the NFP, one would have thought that the
leadership of the province where most of these ructions were
taking place would be inspired to put their shoulders to the
wheel, to work harder and be more vigilant. But the leadership's
laid back style has been responsible for the postponements of
the Conference date repeatedly.
The fist sign of the disloyalty that existed
at the level of the provincial leadership was the manner in
which the then Secretary of the Province, Dr BT Buthelezi,
swallowed pep talk from the leader of the ANC in the Province,
Dr Mkhize, and was lured to a high paying job in the Provincial
Government, turning his back on me and the Party.
When asked by the media whether he was leaving
the Party, he denied it. And yet he has never contacted me,
either before he betrayed us nor thereafter. He has neither
written to nor contacted me.
It has been painful to see how people that you
elected have let us down. This is the reason why you should be
extra careful when you elect your leaders for this Province. It
is sad that one sees the same malady in the Ethekwini Metro,
which has more than a million votes.
This is notwithstanding all the things that I
did for the people of Ethekwini and the people of this Province
under the erstwhile Government. And what the IFP-led Provincial
Government did for the people of this Province when the IFP was
at the helm in this Province.
The corruption in the ruling Party is such
that we find even MECs appearing in cases of corruption before
the courts. This does not even influence the people of this
Province. Is this the extent to which the people of this
Province are beginning to accept malfeasance and
maladministration as a way of governance in this Province?
This Party cannot even begin to regain its
work ethic or its lost soul as long as you do not take seriously
the election of the people you entrust with the leadership of
this Province and of the Party at national level. There is no
substitute for hard work. If we leave this conference without
having chosen the right delegates and the right people to lead
the Ethekwini Metro and this Province, we will not be able to
regain the IFP's work ethic which has distinguished this Party
over the last three decades.
The style of many of our leaders of having a
rush around activity just during the time of elections has been
fatal as far as the depleting of our membership is concerned.
This is because most of our leadership in this Province asks,
"What is in it for me?" with their eye on getting paying
positions at the local, provincial and national level.
It boggles my mind that amongst senior leaders
are people who have dismally failed to lead at this provincial
level. These are leaders who are aspiring to get higher
positions, propelled merely by their personal ambitions and the
financial rewards attached to these positions. Our people have
taken leadership in the same way that a child graduates from one
grade to the next. The difference here is that this is
regardless of performance, as long as one can express themselves
articulately in the English language, regardless of any delivery
to the work of the Party.
We need to regain our Party's work ethic. Our
first challenge will be that of keeping the legacy of the IFP in
the public eye throughout the ANC's centennial celebrations next
year. We know that these celebrations have been constructed with
the goal of repositioning the ANC as the sole liberator of South
Africa in the record of history.
That has been an ANC goal for seventeen years,
and for years before that they waged a People's War to secure
hegemony. As nice as we are to one another in Parliament and as
often as we attend functions together, there is still no
indication from the ANC about what the IFP's role will be in the
celebration of 100 years of the liberation struggle.
The twin challenge of protecting the IFP's
rightful legacy and regaining the IFP's rightful role in South
Africa's politics are going to require a commitment from all of
us to working harder than ever before. For as long as I have
been in politics, I have worked harder than anyone else. I am
not saying this to pat myself on the back, but to motivate you.
You have had my hard work for 36 years. For as long as South
Africa needs the weight of its burdens alleviated, I will
continue to work hard to do it.
I ask that you do the same. Now is the time
for the IFP to transform the possibilities that exist into
reality. There is a storm raging in South Africa's political
atmosphere. But in the peaceful eye of the storm is the IFP. We
have beaten the odds. And while others are locked in their own
internal strife, the IFP is focusing on serving South Africa.
After 36 years, we are still alleviating our country's burden.
The IFP is a blessing South Africa needs.
Ms Liezl van der Merwe, Press Officer to
Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP, 082 729 2510