UMZINYATHI IFP YOUTH REGIONAL CONFERENCE
ON THE THEME OF

GEARING UP FOR THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT ELECTIONS


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

MCKENZIE ST HALL, DUNDEE: AUGUST 5, 2000

His Worship the Mayor of Dundee, Councillor Mfeka; the Honourable Rev CJ Mtetwa, KwaZulu-Natal Minister of Public Works; the Chairman of the Umzinyathi Regional Council, Mr Khumalo and other Councillors; the Chairman of the IFP Region, Mr Makhoba, and other leaders of the IFP; the Chairperson of the Youth Brigade and members of the Umzinyathi Inkatha Freedom Party Youth Brigade, and all other distinguished guests.

I was only too happy to accept the cordial invitation that was extended to me by the Umzinyathi IFP Youth Brigade to participate in this Regional Conference of the Youth Brigade. In the first place, the Youth Brigade and the Women's Brigade are placed by our Constitution directly as my particular responsibility. When we drafted the first Constitution of what was then Inkatha yeNkululeko yeSizwe, the National Cultural Liberation Movement, we thought that it was very important to give our youth as youth, enough room to organise themselves and to have a forum in which they could focus on matters which were of particular concern to them. As I always emphasise, our youth are the future of the country. Everything that we do as the older generation, is aimed at preparing a better tomorrow for our children and their children's children.

I always enjoy being in the company of our young people. Our young people's minds have not been subjected to the political pollution to which the minds of the older generation have been exposed for so long. Dissent and debate are the very essence of politics. It is therefore not in the least surprising that there will always be differences of opinion amongst our youth. This is healthy and good so that young people can grow and learn about politics in the market place of ideas. But I always find that differences amongst our youth are not as destructive and politically debilitating as differences that I have seen in the past twenty-five years amongst older members of our Party.

It often breaks my heart to see the extent to which our members will sacrifice even the very interests of the Party on the altar of self-interest and self-aggrandizement. This political disease has blighted the body politic of our party in so many parts of our country. People get so rusty and so rotten because of meaningless squabbles that we lose membership that we would otherwise be getting as a Party. People get so frustrated watching these squabbles that they decide to avoid being part of a party which is so full of useless squabbles. I know that our youth have the same ambitions as any member of the older generation but their competition in the market place of ideas is not as demeaning to the people competing as it is to those of the older generation who engage in these evil squabbles amongst us.

People in this Province were known for faction fights in the past whenever members of one Inkosi turned against each other. However, I never dreamt that we would have people who are so politically immature that this kind of political faction-fighting is introduced into our politics. Our youth have never carried these fratricidal conflicts to the extent to which the older generation have done so. I do not know whether this is because the youth is exposed to more enlightenment than the older generation. I see them conducting their politics in a civilised manner that even where they disagree, they do so without being disagreeable.

This is why it gives me great pleasure to come to Dundee today to speak to the members of the Umzinyathi IFP Youth, and those who have come to see what we are all about in the IFP. I welcome this regional conference as an important gathering of young people who are committed to making our country a place of social stability, economic prosperity and boundless opportunity. Your commitment to these goals is displayed through the interest you are taking in the politics of South Africa today, and in the fact that you have chosen to be a contributing member of a party with experience, strong leadership, a long-term vision and forward thrust. I can proudly say that the IFP is the party of South Africa’s thinking youth, for we are the party of the best possible future.

I have come here today as the President of the IFP to hear what the youth of my Party have to say about the present difficulties and how we can overcome them, and the equally real opportunities, and how we may grasp them. I am here as a leader, yet I am also here as a working member of the team of revolutionaries of goodwill. I want to hear exactly what the feelings are on the ground, among the young people of our communities. I want to listen to what is being done in the Umzinyathi Regional Youth Brigade and what it is that you are working to achieve. I have always believed that the youth are the dynamic engine which moves the lumbering vehicle of a political party. The IFP vehicle is constantly moving forward, but its pace must be determined by the strength of commitment and energy of the IFP youth.

Therefore, I hope that at this regional conference we may stir the necessary motivation and light the fires of passionate labour in the bellies of every young person committed to our future. This conference comes at a crucial juncture in the history of our country and of our Party. We have important decisions to take on where our priorities lie. If we are willing to take up the fight and run with it, if we want the IFP to retain and better its track record of the best part of South Africa’s government, we must make a firm decision today. Our decision must be that of winning an overwhelming IFP victory in the local government elections. We have never fought simply for the feel of the fight. The IFP fights to win.

I wish to take this opportunity to impress upon the youth of this region the significance of the outcome of the local government elections for the IFP. I feel that it is perhaps not clear enough that our fight this time around is set to influence our future to a greater degree than any election since 1994. The local government elections are laying a foundation for the future of service delivery in South Africa through the establishment of a new system of local government. We are setting in place the delivery machine which will determine whether South Africa moves forward with development, development and more development, or stays behind in a system of centralised and sluggish bureaucracy.

The fact is that our liberation from the chains which still bind our people across the country, will not come directly from Pretoria or Cape Town. The IFP has always known that democracy can only work if the power to govern is truly brought closer to the people. For years throughout negotiations shaping a liberated South Africa, and for years since our political enfranchisement, the IFP has called for federalism as the best and only way of securing genuine liberation. If we fail to rise up to the challenge of the local government elections taking place in a couple of months' time, the cause of federalism will fall flat, never to rise again. This is a last-chance opportunity to get power to our provinces and power to our people.

The local government elections must breathe life into our ongoing struggle for federalism, so that it will not die without having properly lived. Federalism means bringing government closer to the people. It means that central government must respect the cultural diversity of our people. It means that we have the opportunity to say what we need, and the hope of getting it. A centralised government will continue to send one kind of solution down the conveyor belt to fulfil the differing needs of diverse communities. Federalism asks the community what the specific problem is and tailor-makes a solution that works. If democracy is the government of the people by the people, it makes no sense to toss out federalism at this early stage in our delicate transition.

For this fundamental reason, the local government elections demand our unwavering commitment. If the fight for federalism is shut down, the hopes for development will collapse alongside it. Indeed, development demands that we commit ourselves to an IFP victory. It is essential that we choose the right candidates to run with the party ball. They must represent a new class of political leaders with vision, a clear-cut task and an acute awareness of the foundational role they must play in the construction of a delivery system that works. Our candidates must be trained to win so that we can get the right people into the best position to help our communities transform their present dire circumstances into a future of hope. We must push the IFP forward so that we will be the ones holding the trowels and mortar to build a foundational and historic political system of local government.

This generation has been set a task without equal anywhere in the history of South Africa. Today’s youth are the youth of a new hope. You are the builders and constructors of a new society. I am humbled to consider the unique destiny which is yours to capture simply by the fortuity of having been born in this political age. Ours is a time of historical transition in which revolutions may prosper and revolutionaries thrive. As I address you today, I know that the coming elections are a moment of unmatched opportunity in which the Umzinyathi youth may cut their political teeth and make their mark as the leaders of our future.

For this reason, I urge each of you to take up the task of working on the local government elections with commitment and courage. This election will be like no election before and no other to come. Hand in hand with the task of this generation of history-makers, it is a foundation forming election, the first of a new system of local government. I believe it is proper and fitting that a generation which is equally foundation forming should find in this election the true test of their skills and capacity as political creatures. The making of this election is offering a challenge to all our youth to develop an organisational capacity and commitment to completion which will stand us in good stead for the tasks before us.

Throughout this regional conference, I hope that the message may go forth to every ear that is capable of hearing, that it may enter and lodge itself in every heart. The message must ring forth that we are standing on the threshold of a foundational transition, and we are required to act boldly. I wish to challenge every member of the Umzinyathi youth to commit themselves to mobilising the communities of this region. Community campaigning is a task to which you are all suited by the mere fact that you are IFP people. IFP people understand the possibilities inherent in our traditional community solidarity. IFP people know the importance of getting the whole community to stand when a fight is worth winning.

Therefore I urge you to reach out for communities and approach people through community work. Your enthusiasm for this cause should naturally burst forth in talk about the IFP in your schools and universities, on the sports fields, at social events, to your friends and to strangers. It is vital that we get people talking about the IFP and recognising the urgency of an IFP victory. This is also the time to mobilise voters to register so that everyone will have the chance to use their political right to vote. In the end, elections are about voting. We can have the best trained candidates, the most catchy slogans and the bravest hope for a truly democratic future. But if we cannot get people to vote, all is lost.

I challenge every Youth Brigade member to ensure that he or she has a bar-coded identity document if they will be 18 years old by November, as well as to register for the forthcoming elections. In addition, I expect every one of you to help others, young and old, to get bar-coded identity documents and to register in the right constituency. This can be done by all our youth, regardless of whether they have reached the voting age or not.

Our message to the communities of Umzinyathi will be an easy one to convey. In speaking about the IFP, you are backed by the strong conviction that the IFP is indeed the best hope for our future. Such a conviction is founded in clear evidence. The IFP is the second wave which must bring liberation forward, from political enfranchisement to genuine and all-encompassing freedom. Many leaders of my own generation fought hard to bring us to this point, but now they have stopped. Having achieved power, some think that the goal has already been achieved. In contrast, the IFP has been in the forefront of the liberation struggle since the beginning and has brought us this far, but will not stop the struggle.

It is the IFP that will go further. It is the IFP that will give us direction on this new road we must travel. This is no longer the road of political liberation, but has become that of nation-building. We are no longer breaking down the walls of injustice, but are building strong the foundations of prosperity. In this task, the IFP is the second wave which has the task of bringing relief further into our communities. We are the party devoted to development. We are the people of goodwill who do not brake for power or prestige, but forge ever forward on the current of our revolution. The revolution of goodwill is pushing us to commit more deeply to development in South Africa. For that reason, the IFP is making development our politics.

Our Annual General Conference this year has given us the mandate which the youth of our Party must carry forward. We know that we cannot allow anyone to settle for less than the best as we build a new South Africa. Many have given up hope as they see that too little is being done too slowly to offer any prospect of the better future for all which was promised in 1994. The IFP, however, is not a party of empty promises. We tell it like it is, and what we have to say now is the most important truth for the revival of hope in South Africa. The IFP is the hope of our country. The IFP youth are the engine on which our hope is borne. It is time to rely on the inestimable potential of our young people, for this is the generation that will make South Africa a country of hope.

Today, I urge you to take up the election challenge and make it your own. I believe that the youth of the Umzinyathi region have a tremendous task to achieve, and even greater hopes of success according to your commitment. Let commitment be the slogan we hold up high as we gear up for the local government elections of 2000. Development demands commitment. The IFP demands development. Our country’s hope demands the IFP. These elections will lay the foundation for our future. Let us fight to win it.

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