IFP Rally In Hlabisa
Address By Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP
President of the Inkatha Freedom Party

 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 outright majority.


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 NFP-ANC coalition.


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 the IFP.


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 long-standing opponents. 


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 problems.  The emergence of the NFP through money and the cheque-book politics has left some in our ranks who have been trying to use their financial resources.  We have these corrupt leaders even right here in the Umkhanyakude District.  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 infinitesimal.  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,
Press Officer to Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP, on 082 729 2510.