IFP ELECTION RALLY FOR
THE MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS 2000


ADDRESS BY
MANGOSUTHU BUTHELEZI, MP
PRESIDENT OF THE INKATHA FREEDOM PARTY

Johannesburg : November 4, 2000

It is good to be surrounded by so many people who know the IFP. We have come here today to hear what the IFP is doing for the local government elections, to receive the IFP plan for victory and to find out how each of us can be a part of making it all work. I have the privilege of coming to Gauteng today to speak to the IFP faithful, knowing that when this Party gathers its people we do not do so merely for the sake of just togetherness. We gather because there is a strength in our coming together that pours over into our actions. By gathering today we are generating a force for good which will move from this place into every community in this region, leaving no one in doubt that the IFP means business. The IFP means to win this election.

There is every reason to support the IFP for this victory. On December 5, 2000 the local government election will be the last chance South Africa is going to get to bring the power to govern into the hands of ordinary people. The local level is the closest level of government to our communities. It is the first step up the ladder of governance, and the IFP believes that ordinary South Africans ought to be able to reach the top of that ladder by having access to its lowest rungs. If, through the coming election, we allow the establishment of a local government led by those who seek centralism, we are effectively taking the bottom rungs off the ladder. No one on the ground will be able to influence or change the way things work on the ground. Government will come from the top, down. The IFP wants it to go from the bottom, up.

This is not a new concept. For years the IFP has spoken about a bottom up governance because this is the only way that the people can truly govern their own circumstances and lives. Local government must be strengthened as a point of co-operation between the leaders at this level and the people who voted for them. Voters must be able to trust the people they vote into local government. This time, it is not just a case of listening to who makes the most promises or who sounds off the best slogans. This time we cannot just take a leap of faith and hope that those who end up in power will want the best for the people, rather than the best for their pockets. This time, there is no voting for a party hoping that its representatives will work out. In the local government election, each vote will be for a specific candidate, backed by the vision and strength of their party.

Voters must be sure that the candidate they choose is the candidate they know and the candidate they trust. These are the people you will be working with day to day. These are the people who will carry your voice and respond to your complaints. They are the ones who must serve your needs and ensure that the system of governance benefits your community. In all these things, I am describing IFP candidates. This Party’s candidates are backed by an unparalleled track record within communities. We have always worked in the communities, among the people, on the ground. We have never left the people or led them from a distance. We are right in the middle of the struggle which continues today, because we are part of the South African story. This Party knows how to amplify the voice of the people, through a system of government which recognises that those who are governed are more important than those who govern.

The IFP also knows that those who are to be governed should be able to elect those who will govern through a process which is free, fair and without political game playing. The IFP has never engaged in highly publicised mudslinging contests. Nor have we stood by silently when there were threats of intimidation and violence. We do not engage in point-scoring by making unrealistic promises, nor do we point out the failures of present leadership, their shortcomings and inadequacies, simply to look good in comparison. Standing alone, the IFP looks good. The IFP tells it like it is. We offer solutions rather than harping on the problems. We focus on the issues, not the opposition.

Perhaps most importantly, the IFP understands that the ongoing struggle for genuine liberation must be fought and won in the heart of communities. When South Africa achieved liberation in 1994 we did not instantaneously receive everything promised by the democratic ideal. We still had to wrestle with the legacy of years of wrong governance which had wreaked havoc on our economy, our social perceptions, our quality of life and our cultural interactions. We were politically free, but we had still to deal with the demand for an entire legislative and institutional transformation. In the first six years of democratic rule, we met this demand with tremendous success.

Yet, when we look around there are still people who have no jobs. In fact, there are more of them than ever before. There are still people with no homes, no education, no training, and no hope. Many women still suffer abuse and discrimination. The chances of a 15 year old contracting HIV/AIDS is now at 65%. Thousands of people still have no access to basic health-care, and their nutritional needs go unmet. In an age when we should all be computer literate, many don’t even have electricity. There is an army of human resources, but they have no skills. Criminality and substance abuse are becoming more and more attractive to our youth as an alternative to the void which sits where their future should be. When we have achieved political liberation, why is this our reality?

For genuine liberation to reach ordinary people, change must be able to be effected from the bottom. Transformation is a community project. It begins in the heart of one and spreads among our neighbours through a tide of goodwill. It is for this reason that the IFP has worked hard at the level of national government, first in the Government of National Unity and then through the coalition government, while maintaining its focus in the communities at grassroots level. Those gathered here today know the IFP because the IFP has always been here. We have been here for 25 years. We have been here through the liberation struggle. We have been here through the negotiations for a democratic South Africa. We have been here for the first six years of political liberation. We are here now for the local government elections. And we will be here long after the elections are won.

I must tell you, I am appalled when I see those who have never been into communities being vociferous arm-chair critics of those of us who have never shied away from dirtying our hands with the people. They were never here when we struggled against apartheid. They never set foot in these communities after 1994 when we continued our struggle for housing, education, employment and hope. Now, 31 days before elections, they suddenly appear. There is no reason to believe that they will ever return after December 5. If they have not walked the path of our history with the poorest communities, why should anyone believe that they will walk this path in the future?

Only the IFP has stayed among the poorest of the poor. We know that the struggle belongs to the people and the victory belongs to the people. For this reason alone, the election campaign for the local government elections belongs to the people and must be driven from within these communities. If we want to get leaders we can trust into local government positions, we must do what needs to be done to win an IFP victory on December 5. I feel that when I speak in this city I am speaking to the IFP family. Today, I want to challenge you, the IFP faithful, to raise up a mighty standard in this region for the IFP. When we fly the IFP flag, we are flying the flag of development.

Community upliftment is about development. Training a labour force and educating people is about development. Building houses and clinics and schools, shopping centres, community centres and sports fields, is about development. Even the fight against the spread of HIV/AIDS is about development, for if we cannot control the spread of HIV/AIDS we will see our fittest builders, workers and champions of development simply die. The fight against crime is about development, for criminality is directly opposed to the development of our communities and our country. Increasing productivity and instilling a sound work ethic is about development. Empowering people to contribute towards creating solutions is about development.

All these are community issues which can only be addressed through a local government that works. An IFP local government can meet these needs because it understands them, and has always been actively engaged in meeting them. We are the party for development, development, development and development, and we are the only ones committed to see this through after December 5. The IFP is seeking a mandate from the people on the ground. We are strengthening a dialogue which opened between grassroots South Africans and the IFP 25 years ago. We are relying on every IFP supporter to extend this dialogue for the benefit of those who have yet to hear about the IFP’s track record and long-term vision.

When the IFP goes into work-places and asks people what they expect from their local government leaders, we are preparing our candidates for their jobs after December 5. When we go into schools and speak to young people about canvassing for an IFP victory, we are speaking to them about getting involved to make their communities work. When we go into hospitals and clinics, we are carrying a healthy message of building, healing and developing. When the IFP shows up at music concerts, when we arrive at community shows and social events, when you see the IFP outside shopping centres and in churches, when our candidates go anywhere where people are gathered, we go in the hope that those who support development will come along and support the IFP.

We want to see a tide of supporters swell up and rally around IFP candidates wherever they go. The IFP is going to be popping up everywhere. We will be seen. We will be heard. We will be spoken about. But what could be a glimpse, a whisper or a casual remark could very well become a loud, robust message, carried on the tongues of IFP supporters and buoyed up on their overwhelming presence. These elections belong to the people. The people must ensure that in 31 days' time, the communities of Gauteng will be queuing up to cast their votes for an IFP victory. Those who know us must speak to those who do not know us. Those who are going to vote must mobilise those who lack enthusiasm for voting. Those who can get to the polls must assist those who cannot.

In the next 31 days we shall all bear the responsibility of being vigilant, watching out for possible obstacles to free and fair campaigning and free and fair elections. We must reject intimidation and, above all, we must condemn threats of violence. If we cannot go into these elections peaceably, choose the best candidates for the job without intimidation and see our country set development on the agenda as a top priority without lives being lost, there will be a great scar left on this chapter in our history. This is the most important chapter to be written in the history of South Africa. This is what we have worked for for so many years.

South Africa has struggled enough. It is time for us to be able to take control of our own situation and accelerate development in our communities, our nation and our country. There is still a long and uphill road ahead of us, but we must at last be able to walk that road in the shoes we have chosen for ourselves. We need to don the hiking boots of development. It is useless if those dealing out the equipment to solve our difficulties and walk our path, are not familiar with the road and are simply sending truckloads of tennis shoes down the conveyor belt. Every community faces different problems. We are all dealing with the issues of unemployment, lack of service delivery and poor education. But each community has different priorities according to their individual needs.

The IFP has always advocated federalism as the best system of governance to empower individual people to contribute to tailor-making solutions that work. Federalism ensures that the real power to govern is vested as close to the ground as will be effective. If, through the ballot box, the IFP wins local government, we will continue to pursue this ideal as the best possible form of democracy. An IFP victory will not only keep the lowest rungs of the ladder of government close to the ground, it will also ensure that governance can move from the bottom of the ladder towards the top, letting those in central government receive a mandate from grassroots people that simply cannot be ignored.

I am deeply saddened when I see leaders who have engaged in the struggle for liberation for many years simply sit back and say that we have arrived. Just because some who started at the bottom are now at the top, does not mean that all those who remain at the bottom can simply be forgotten. I have never moved away from the poorest of the poor. I remain among my people. I continue to walk on the roads my people walk, grieving with them and celebrating with them. Now, I will intensify my work. I will not sit back. Now we must walk the last leg of our journey. It will be the most difficult leg, but it will give meaning to everything that has come before.

Let us be prepared for the December 5 elections. Let us be ready to make this an IFP victory, a victory for development, a victory for communities, and a victory for hope. Local government should be able to equip ordinary people with the tools for self-help and self-reliance. It should extend to grassroots communities the opportunity to become actively involved in projects of development. It should be the vehicle through which individual South Africans can drive development forward. How could local government be run by those who have never understood self-reliance? The IFP is the only party which ever survived and thrived without massive outside financial support. We know how to do a lot with a little. How much more will we be able to achieve with proper resources.

I believe that the IFP is the only party that has the experience, the vision, the support and the will to make development happen in South Africa. If promises have been made for six years and nothing has materialised, why should we believe such promises 31 days before elections? If people have never been seen in poor and needy communities, why are they appearing 31 days before elections? The IFP does not take South Africans for fools. We give credit where credit is due. We know that the ordinary people of South Africa are the true heroes who have brought this country to where it is today. We know that it will be the ordinary people of South Africa who will take this country further to development, prosperity and success.

The IFP knows these things because we are part of the ordinary people. We are just men and women who are ready to roll up our sleeves and get the job done. We know our communities. We understand the issues. We have solutions. The IFP does not play games with voters, trying to sway them one way or another. We simply stand up in front of you and say the IFP is the best possible choice for local government. Support for IFP candidates is support for development. A vote for the IFP is a vote to put on our hiking boots to walk the rest of the path towards genuine liberation. I trust the judgement of the people because together we have brought our victory this far. Now, let us make our victory complete. On December 5, let us vote IFP.

A new chapter of local government can begin on December 5th if the IFP is strengthened in this province and across the country. December 5th is the date on which we can turn the tide around. Unless the IFP is strengthened, the future will promise nothing but more of the same. We do not want more of the same but we demand something better. A new system of local government will begin on December 5th and this time around things must be done the right way, which is the IFP way. Unless they are done the right way, the IFP way, the new system of local government will suffer the same deficiencies and shortfalls which have impaired the delivery of the central government. A new chance is being given to the voters to get it right this time around without repeating the mistakes made in the past. We can get it right if we do it the IFP way.

It is important that we motivate people in this region to go and vote on December 5th. Too many people are disillusioned and frustrated with politics and, frankly, I shall not be the one to blame them. They have already voted three times since April 1994 and they have often not seen tangible results of change and progress. However, they must be told that this election is important because if they vote IFP they can get a second bite at the liberation cherry. We can move the struggle for liberation forward because we have always known that liberation is about more than merely reaching the rights of political franchise. Today we are leading the struggle for development, development, development. Twenty-five years ago we began leading the struggle for development, development, development which we have led since then, without interruption or hesitation. Tomorrow and for the years to come, the IFP will continue to lead the struggle for development, development, development.

Voting for the IFP is a vote which recognises our contribution of yesterday and pledges our commitment for today, tomorrow and the future. We are the Party of the people walking on the road to success. Through our leadership in the struggle for development the people will succeed in achieving real freedom and breaking the chains of poverty. In its name, the IFP has the word ‘freedom’ entrenched as part of its political promise. The freedom we seek is the freedom from poverty, unemployment, crime and abject social and economic conditions. The freedom for which we struggle is there where social stability and economic prosperity will blossom. To this freedom I have dedicated my life’s efforts. On December 5th we can bring the struggle for freedom one step closer if we make the IFP stronger so that the whole of South Africa can be better. With the help of God we will succeed. With the help of God Almighty the struggle for development will be victorious. With the guidance of our Lord and under His protection one day all the children of South Africa will finally be free.

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