IFP KwaZulu Natal Provincial Conference
"Struggling for the IFP to Regain Its Work Ethic and Soul"

Keynote Address By

Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP
President of the Inkatha Freedom Party


 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 country.

 

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 Party.

 

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 extinction.

 

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 extinction.

 

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 this conference.

 

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 to carry.

 

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 union.

 

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 themselves.

 

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 provincial party.

 

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 Republic.

 

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 2010."

 

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 positions.

 

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 IFP.

 

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.

 

Contact:
Ms Liezl van der Merwe, Press Officer to Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP, 082 729 2510