Hlabisa, Umkhanyakude District: 4 December 2011
When I visited Hlabisa in April this year, I
came with the message that the power to decide the future of
Hlabisa was about to be placed squarely where it belongs; in
your hands. That is democracy at work, and that is power of the
vote. We were approaching the 2011 Local Government Elections
and the decision over who would lead the municipality in Hlabisa
would be decided at the polls, based on your votes and your
voice. When the time came, the majority of the residents of
Hlabisa chose the IFP.
I have come here to thank you in person. The
IFP appreciates your vote of confidence and we take seriously
the mandate you have given us to serve you. When you voted IFP
on the 18th of May, you were in good company. Across South
Africa more than a million votes of support were cast for the
IFP in the Local Government Elections, 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.
The results of the Local Government Elections
restored the IFP to its position as the third largest political
party in South Africa.
Nevertheless, these elections saw a shift in
the political landscape that did not bode well. The newly formed
NFP managed to split the vote in KwaZulu Natal, as we predicted
they would. It left this province with 19 hung municipalities;
municipalities that could not operate because no one had won an
In Hlabisa, the majority of the votes were for
the IFP. We won 6 of the 8 wards, while the ANC and NFP each
took one. Yet we were disadvantaged by the system of
proportional representation, and ended up with 8 councillors,
while the ANC and NFP have 4 councillors each.
Thus, when the NFP formed an alliance with the
ANC to gain control of the 19 hung municipalities, it caused the
balance of power in Hlabisa to slide away from what the
electorate called for, towards a half and half council; where
half of your councillors are from the IFP, and half are from the
The coalition between the NFP and the ANC came
about very soon after the elections, and it did not surprise us.
In theory, the NFP could have chosen to enter a coalition with
the IFP to co-govern the 19 hung municipalities. But in reality,
Mrs kaMagwaza-Msibi could not choose the IFP over the ANC, for
she owed the ANC a profound debt for its part in establishing
the NFP. We know that the NFP was birthed with money from some
ANC leaders, who sought to weaken the IFP in the hope of finally
destroying us. The money and propaganda they employed to assist
the so-called "Friends of VZ" first, and then the NFP, meant
that when it came to choosing a coalition partner, Mrs
kaMagwaza-Msibi was obliged to choose the ANC.
She therefore created, through the media, an
insurmountable obstacle to an IFP-NFP coalition, stating that
she would only consider it if I first apologised for saying that
the NFP was a creation of some ANC leaders. How could I retract
a truth I had spoken even in the National Assembly, before the
nation and in the presence of the President of the country?
Obviously I could not deny saying it. It was on the official
record. What she wanted, was for me to deny the truth of the
statement. I cannot deny the truth. She knows that. And it gave
her an easy out to run to the ANC.
Even if I had done what she had asked me to do, there was
already a watertight agreement between the ANC and the NFP to
work together and form these coalitions.
But people are not fools. Many people
recognized the shadow of treachery when Mrs kaMagwaza-Msibi
handed municipalities to the ANC through the NFP-ANC coalition.
The people did not ask for an ANC-NFP coalition, but that is
what they got. In the 19 hung municipalities, the voters did not
ask for an ANC leadership, but that is what they got. If you had
wanted the ANC to govern in Hlabisa, you would have voted for
the ANC. If you had wanted the NFP, you would have voted for the
NFP. Democracy has been perverted in many municipalities, for
the voters did not get what they asked for.
It is not only the voters who felt betrayed by
the NFP-ANC coalition.
Councillors within the NFP recognized that they
would have to bow to the orders of Mrs kaMagwaza-Msibi. A big
show was made of the NFP leadership having consulted its
membership about the coalition, but in the end an ANC coalition
was forced on NFP members whether they wanted it or not. Some
Councillors expressed their discontent by voting against the
coalition when it came to electing office bearer positions in
municipalities like Umlalazi and Umtshezi and Mtubatuba.
Instead, they voted for an IFP leadership.
Of course, Mrs kaMagwaza-Msibi quickly called
them into line, for she could not risk annoying her ANC
bedfellows. But the rumblings of discontent within the NFP have
continued, as we saw in Mtubatuba recently. Following the
NFP-ANC coalition, the two parties shared the spoils, deciding
who would lead which municipality. They acted as though
governance was their right in the 19 hung municipalities, even
though the people had not asked them to govern. The ANC took
Umkhanyakude and Mtubutuba, and - in exchange - they let the NFP
have all the positions in Hlabisa. That is why Hlabisa has an
NFP Deputy Mayor and an NFP Speaker, even though you voted for
But in Mtubatuba, the NFP councillors were not
impressed that their leader had given the municipality to the
ANC, and they voted with the IFP. They were raked over the coals
for disregarding the coalition and given instructions to go back
and reverse the situation. On Monday last week, a council
meeting was called, but did not commence. After waiting 40
minutes for the meeting to start, IFP Councillors walked out,
because in terms of the rules of procedure a meeting is no
longer valid and should not proceed if it is delayed for longer
than 40 minutes.
Nevertheless, after the IFP left, the ANC and
NFP councillors went ahead with the meeting and took the
opportunity to elect a Mayor and Speaker in the IFP's absence.
Both these positions went to the ANC.
The ANC offered the Deputy Mayor position to
the NFP, but the NFP councillors declined. They did not want any
office bearer positions, because they did not agree with the
ANC-NFP coalition. They had simply been forced by their
leadership to go and give Mtubatuba to the ANC.
Thus a Deputy Mayor was not elected.
The IFP's councillors will no doubt challenge
the validity of Monday's meeting, seeing as it was held outside
of the rules of procedure. But what happened in Mtubatuba has
made the ANC more cautious of the strength of its coalition.
They fear it is not going to last. I suspect Mrs kaMagwaza-Msibi
must have some concerns of her own about the loyalty of her
cadres, when their loyalty was bought in the first place.
Even the former Mayor of Hlabisa, Mr Bobby
Ntombela, was lured away from the IFP to the ranks of the NFP.
In so doing, he lost his position as Mayor. One can imagine he
is not pleased that the NFP failed to deliver a better position
for him. The ANC's caution over their shaky NFP coalition in
Mtubatuba has somehow generated a better working relationship
between the ANC and the IFP here in Hlabisa. On critical issues,
the ANC supports the IFP in Hlabisa.
In many municipalities across KwaZulu Natal,
we have seen NFP members more willing to work with the IFP than
with the ANC. Here in Hlabisa, we are seeing ANC members more
willing to work with the IFP than with the NFP. It is quite
interesting that both parties recognize the IFP's integrity.
They can trust us more than they can trust each other. I think
Mayor V.F. Hlabisa has a very challenging responsibility ahead
of him to balance all the politics while keeping his focus on
service delivery. But that is a challenge the IFP has met for 36
years, and we are still delivering.
Nevertheless, we are not lulled into a false
sense of security by the instability of the ANC-NFP coalition.
The ANC is still full of tricks, just as they always have been.
We have learned that there is an ANC proposal on the table to
change the demarcation of municipal boundaries to see Hlabisa
municipality disbanded and this area absorbed into different
municipalities. Wards 1 to 4 would go to Mtubatuba, which means
giving them to the ANC, and wards 5 to 8 would go to Big Five,
which means giving them to the NFP.
That is a very underhanded trick, and the IFP
will fight tooth and nail for Hlabisa to retain its identity. We
recognize the historical importance of Hlabisa and will make
submissions to counter this bizarre proposal from the ANC.
Bizarre it might be, but it is not surprising. The ANC has
always operated like this; where they lose they want to get rid
of it, and where they win they want to expand it.
This arrogance of the ANC and NFP must be
stopped. It is the people who must decide who serves them, not
Mrs kaMagwaza-Msibi. Clearly the ANC cares less about democracy
than it does about power, and its coalition partner is happily
following in its footsteps.
I have chosen to go into such detail about the
politics of what is happening in Hlabisa because I feel you
ought to know how contested the future really is. Hlabisa is one
of only three municipalities the IFP managed to retain in the
Local Government Elections. That is not because you experienced
fewer challenges or less shenanigans by the NFP. I know that
here in Hlabisa the NFP was active in trying to lure away IFP
supporters, and the propaganda against the IFP was rife. But
while the former Mayor fell for their false charms, the
residents of Hlabisa rejected the NFP.
The results of the Local Government Elections
left no question in anyone's mind about who Hlabisa supports.
The vote was not split or undecided. I am sure that other
municipalities will be looking to you as an example, and asking
how you managed to come out of the storm with a strong IFP
support still intact. Make no mistake, every effort was employed
by our opponents to weaken the IFP's support. But here in
Hlabisa, the strong partnership between the people and the IFP
took precedence over political power struggles, and it survived.
You have become torchbearers, and an example
for others to emulate. I want to thank you for sticking with the
IFP, for working hard to counter the lies and propaganda, and
for keeping faith with what you know to be true about our Party;
that we are trustworthy, capable and willing to serve. Thank you
for voting for the partnership we already had, and for asking us
to continue serving you in Hlabisa. Thank you for strengthening
the hand of the IFP, so that we can work hard for you.
We have a great deal more hard work ahead of
us. The IFP is a party for people who want to serve. We are not
for those who are seeking positions as status symbols. I am
convinced that the IFP fared poorly in the 2009 general election
and in the 2011 local government elections because those at the
helm are not servicing our branches and our districts. National
and provincial leaders are not going to districts. Some people
who have been placed in high positions are not fulfilling the
responsibilities of those positions, but feel they have arrived
and are owed something.
There is no place in the IFP for that kind of
attitude. That is the playground of the NFP and the ANC. If you
want to be a fat cat, go and be a fat cat somewhere else. The
IFP is about hard work and serving the people. In just a few
weeks time we will be going to our Annual General Conference to
elect a new leadership for this Party. Yesterday we attended the
Provincial Conference. I pray that God would guide us to choose
leaders who are committed to serving, not to being served.
We have had to postpone Conference several
times because of the ructions caused by the so-called "Friends
of VZ". Now that they have left us, we have been able to pull
the Party into shape and prepare for a serene and honest
election process. Interestingly, now that the "Friends of VZ"
fill the ranks of the NFP, the NFP has had to postpone its
Conference more than once. And to think, Mrs kaMagwaza-Msibi
dragged us to court trying to get us to hold Conference! I am
afraid she is getting a taste of her own medicine.
A good example of her being hoisted with her own petard.
I thank God that the IFP was vindicated by the
courts. I thank God that we survived the ructions caused by our
And I thank God that many of our people
refused to abandon the IFP. We have weathered a terrible storm.
But for us, the storm is over. The storm brewing between the ANC
and the NFP over this forced coalition is just getting started.
And the storm within the ANC is gathering pace. While everywhere
we look political leaders are scrambling for positions, the IFP
has its shoulder to the wheel in serving the mandate given to us
by the electorate.
But I do not want to pretend that we do not have our own
emergence of the NFP through money and the cheque-book politics
has left some in our ranks who have been trying to use their
We have these corrupt leaders even right here in the
If anyone doubted the old saying that money is the root
of all evil, there is no reason to doubt that we have had such a
trying time because of the people who have brought in the
culture of bankrolling others to give them political support.
There are too many stories that I need to repeat to you
here today of bogus branches which were created by "the friends
of VZ" and there are others who have taken a leaf out of the
book of "the friends of VZ" and the ANC and are doing the same
in our Party. I ask
you to be loyal to the Party and reveal the names of those who
are involved in such despicable activities.
We need to weed them out of our Party before our Party is
infested with such corrupt operatives.
South Africa cannot go forward because at all levels of
public life we are infected by this virus of corruption.
People tend to think that indulging in such corrupt practices at
this lower level is not a very serious matter.
Corruption is corruption however big and however
People who indulge in these practices cannot be able to take
this country forward.
Such people cannot be trusted.
There are some people who think doing this on a small
scale is not as serious as those who are doing this at the
levels of all the three levels of our government.
You chose us. You asked us to lead. We will
give you the full measure of our commitment, as we have always
done, cognizant of the many plans and plots to take Hlabisa away
from the IFP. Here, in Hlabisa, we will defend democracy. We
will defend your voice and your right to choose. We will engage you in governance and let you
lead. For we know that serving is not about power and status.
It's about you. That was our election slogan, and that is the
message we are taking into the next five years.
I ask you to join hands with the IFP and make
Hlabisa a shining light to other municipalities. Despite the
challenges, despite the ructions, despite the treachery, you
have stood tall. I thank you, and I ask for your continued
support. Let us grow our partnership and strengthen the hand of
the IFP. Let's keep the future of Hlabisa in our hands.
I thank you.
Ms Liezl van der Merwe,
to Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP, on 082 729 2510.