Eshowe Town Hall: 6 June 2010
The battle is on for the soul of the IFP. There is
no longer any denying the fact that there is a group of people who
want to destroy our Party and see it relegated to the annals of
history. Those who began by spreading lies in the media more than a
year ago about the leadership of the IFP, who held secret meetings
and employed underhanded cloak and dagger tactics, are now openly
declaring war on our Party.
I have come here today with a great deal on my
heart, and I am pleased for the opportunity to speak to you. I feel
that there may be few more opportunities to arrest the flow of
poison into our Party and, before we reach our Annual General
Conference, we need to turn the tide on the lies that are being sold
to women of the IFP. Make no mistake; you as the women of the IFP
are being targeted, because if one wants to break the back of our
Party, the lethal blow is to our backbone.
Since I established Inkatha in 1975, I have
recognised that women are the backbone of this Party. The majority
of our members have always been women, and the majority of our women
members have been here in KwaZulu Natal. Never in the 35 year
history of our Party has the IFP Women's Brigade been in such a
state of chaos and weakness. The strength of the Women's Brigade has
always reflected the strength of the Party. If the Women's Brigade
is floundering, it bodes very badly for the Party.
Not only are you as women the largest percentage
of our Party, but you have always been our most active members.
Women have a skill for taking up a good cause and running with it.
You have a unique talent for conveying a message to others in a way
that convinces them of its worth, its value and its importance. This
is the very reason I have always made a point of listening to South
African women and valuing their ideas. Women have been attracted to
the IFP because here we have a Party that knows their worth.
It is thus a deadly blow and a deep insult to
suggest that I and the leadership of the IFP are persecuting one of
our women and standing in the way of her ambition.
When those who want to destroy the IFP forged their strategy,
it was a calculated arrow to the heart of the Party to base the
whole charade on a highly placed and respected woman leader. A great
deal of confusion has been created to hide the real intentions
behind the succession debate.
Today, I want to cut through the smokescreens so
that we all might see the truth. As your President, I bear the
responsibility for leading you towards truth. The things I am going
to say today have nothing to do with any personal desire to continue
leading this Party. They have nothing to do with campaigning for
another term. They have nothing to do with trampling on anyone's
ambition. What I have to say, I say because you, our backbone, need
to be strengthened with the knowledge of what is really going on.
For more than a year we have been engaged in a
struggle with a group of people calling themselves the "Friends of
VZ". They have been slandering our leadership, sneering at our
Constitution, spreading lies through the media, paying off people to
join their ranks, manipulating our members, disrupting our meetings
and campaigning for our National Chairperson to throw me out of the
Party ? even when the National Chairperson castigated them in the
media and distanced herself from their activities.
The question we must ask ourselves is why the
so-called "Friends of VZ" continue with their shenanigans when the
very woman they claim to support has publically admonished them to
stop. Mrs Zanele ka Magwaza-Msibi has declared her unavailability to
be nominated to the position of Party President at next month's
Annual General Conference.
So why do the "Friends of VZ" keep wearing
T-shirts bearing her photo?
Why do they keep exalting her and vilifying me?
Why are our loyal members being pistol whipped? Why are we hearing
about petrol bombs and stabbings?
Because the "Friends of VZ" are no friends of the
IFP. They are pawns who have been bought by people outside the Party
to destroy us. The lie these people have sold the "Friends of VZ" is
that by weakening the Party, they will be able to snatch away its
leadership, ensuring them high positions, big salaries and status.
They have been led to believe that if they can disrupt our General
Conference and split our members down the middle with lies and
intimidation, they will emerge from Conference as the new leadership
of the IFP.
What they are not being told - and what they
somehow fail to want to see - is that if they succeed in dividing
the IFP, there will be nothing left for them to lead. They have been
set up to weaken our Party, so that the real agents provocateur can
sweep in and deal a death blow to the IFP, to its legacy and to its
future in South African politics. Let us not forget how the New
National Party was handed to the ANC on a platter. Are we willing to
do the same thing with the IFP?
Let us not forget the lessons of the low intensity
civil war that claimed so many black lives in this Province just
thirty years ago. The ANC made it clear to us then that they were
dead set on political hegemony after liberation and would not
tolerate a rival party, particularly not one so widely supported by
the majority of our people. Within a few years of Inkatha being
established, we had the support of over a million card-carrying
members. We were the largest black political organisation ever to
appear in South Africa, and our Women's Brigade was the largest
political body of women. We were a clear threat to the ANC's desire
When liberation came in 1994, the IFP became the
third largest political party in South Africa, despite the years of
vilification, slander and attempted assassinations against me. The
people of South Africa supported Inkatha because we were the voice
of the voiceless in apartheid South Africa. We did not leave our
country to fight for liberation from a distance. We stayed in the
trenches; that is in the fields, in the communities and the
gathering places of ordinary South Africans who daily had to face
the battle of discrimination, injustice and fear. I listened to the
people. Inkatha listened when they spoke and took pains to express
the will of the majority, rather than assuming we knew what was
Even after liberation and even after the ANC began
rewriting history to portray itself as the sole liberator, the
people of South Africa supported the IFP, because we continued to be
the party that listens to the will of the people and takes pains to
express their voice. We have never dictated to our people. We have
served them. We have never used our youth structures to attack other
leaders. We have never silently condoned corruption. We have never
asked the people to accept the leadership of anyone whose integrity
could be questioned or whose commitment to the interests of our
country were dubious.
We have always been a threat to the ANC, from the
moment I rejected the armed struggle and opposed the call for
international sanctions and disinvestment. Our support may have
decreased over the years since liberation as the political landscape
of our country evolved. But we have not ceased to be a threat to the
ruling Party's agenda of hegemony. They look at us now and think
that we have become small enough so that they can finally destroy
It is not just coincidence that the ANC Youth
League is boasting that it will have one million card-carrying
members by 2011. Neither should we disregard the fact that
people such as Mr Tokyo Sexwale have began lending their
voices to the lie that we are persecuting our National Chairperson.
Mr Sexwale is not a friend of the IFP, but he is a man with a vast
amount of money and a significant amount of power. Let us not be
fooled into thinking that the problems the IFP is experiencing right
now are just an internal debate on who should lead this Party after
the Annual General Conference. There is something much bigger and
much more sinister going on.
What frustrates me the most is that there are
still some people who are either openly part of the "Friends of VZ"
or secretly support their cause, who fail to grasp that they are
being used to destroy the IFP. Not to make it stronger. Not to take
it into the future. Not to give it a woman President. But to wipe it
off the face of the political landscape. No one is going to support
a party that is divided and chaotic, particularly not young people.
We are at an added disadvantage in that the younger generation does
not bear the memory of all that we suffered during apartheid.
My generation knows the history of South Africa
and the history of the IFP because we lived through those terrible
times. We have a foundation on which to build our understanding of
what is happening right now. But young people are more easily
mislead. Considering that South Africa's population is so youthful,
it is critical that we make sure that the message of the real IFP
reaches young people, because they constitute the largest portion of
Historically our women have been most active in
mobilising support for the Party and recruiting members. But it is
hard to recall any campaign of mobilisation recently initiated by
our Women's Brigade. While we cannot lay our poor performance in last
year's elections at the feet of any one structure or person, I know
that one of the key reasons we fared so badly was because our
Women's Brigade is not as strong as it should be.
The sad fact is that our Women's Brigade has not
become stronger since the 2009 elections, but weaker and more
undisciplined. Indeed the reports delivered to our Extended Review
Council this year show how some of the branches of the Women's
Brigade are not credible. If we allow this state of affairs to
continue, we will lose in the 2011 Local Government Elections more
than we have ever lost before. We need a strong Women's Brigade that
is committed to seeing the IFP protected from the predators now
preying on our image, on our leaders and on our future.
I find it almost bizarre that any of our members
could be taken in by the lie that we are persecuting our National
Chairperson, when the IFP's legacy is founded on respect for women.
I have promoted the agenda of women emancipation before it became
topical and popular in Africa. In the seventies, I repealed Zulu
laws which were making married women minors and under the custody of
their husbands. This freedom came for Zulu women a decade ahead of
the repeal of similar provisions which were subjugating white women
in this country until 1994.
I also enabled women to hold title deed to their
land after their husbands had passed away, which was an
extraordinary departure from our indigenous and customary law and a
first in South Africa.
I made history when I promoted the first female
traditional leaders within the Zulu nation and appointed the first
woman within my Cabinet in the erstwhile KwaZulu Government. I had
the largest percentage of women in my delegation at the World Trade
Centre when we negotiated the constitutional transition from
apartheid to democracy.
I mention this because all such actions were taken
when it was not politically required to do so, and all the women
appointed to positions were chosen because of their skills and the
contribution they had to make. To me this is the most important
element to making gender parity a reality, rather than a slogan.
It is not just a matter of filling a quota or
doing something which is politically correct. One needs to enable
women to compete for positions on the same level as men and
recognise that they have the capabilities to achieve what men can,
if not more. I have often said that this must start from within
schools, through universities, the workplace and the political
system. It requires a change of attitude which eliminates the
visible and invisible hindrances within society which prevent women
from achieving and reaching their goals.
The most important reforms are those which take
place within the mind, heart and soul of people. A change of culture
is necessary to eliminate the low ceiling placed above women's
growth, which is often made of psychological oppression, prejudice,
harassment and belittling role models.
In South Africa we have passed extremely
progressive legislation which has eliminated all forms of
discrimination between men and women. In law, men and women are
equal in all respects and nothing stops women from achieving
anything they wish within society.
But this is not sufficient. The hindrances to
their development take place within their own minds, within the
minds of their fathers, mothers, husbands and children, within the
culture of their communities and within the unspoken mindset of
workplaces. All this needs to be changed and for more than half a
century I have championed the cause to change it. It is a deep
insult to me and to this Party that our opponents now choose to
attack us on this front, pretending that we have no respect for
women and are simply trying to prevent a woman from taking
When the National Council took the decision to
redeploy the National Chairperson from her position as Mayor of
Zululand to being a member of the Provincial Legislature, our
opponents used the "Friends of VZ" to twist our motives and call this decision a
demotion. But if one moves from the third and lowest tier of
Government to the second tier of Government, how can that be
anything but a promotion? No matter how you want to view the world,
a move up is not the same as a move down.
During these stressful times in our Party, I am
often reminded of the scripture that warns that where selfish
ambition exists, confusion and every evil thing will be evident. The
confusion being generated about the IFP's leadership and the IFP's
future has now turned into violent conflict. Just look at the level
of security we need at a provincial conference of the Women's
Brigade. Too many of our elective meetings have been disrupted with
the throwing of chairs and the hurling of obscenities; a culture
which is new and foreign to the IFP.
The IFP I established and have led for 35 years is
a party of integrity and discipline. Our legacy is that of orderly
meetings, respectful behaviour and free debate, without fear of
intimidation or violence. I am sickened to the pit of my stomach to
see this Party being turned upside-down by one group of people who
want to promote themselves and another group who want to destroy us.
As I said at the outset, the battle is on for the soul of the IFP,
and as distasteful as I find being caught in the middle of it, my
love for this Party is being stoked more and more.
With all the insults being hurled at me and all
the damage being done to my legacy, one would think that I would be
ready to just walk away. But I have given life to this Party, and I have
given the Party my own life. I love the IFP and I love the people we
serve. I love this country. I am not ready to step aside and see the
IFP being destroyed, because I know that South Africa still needs
the contribution of our Party. There is no other party that can
offer the integrity that is our legacy. We remain the moral compass
of this nation, and if we allow our opponents to destroy us, and our
own members to deliver us into their hands, we will have done this
country a grave disservice.
I have differed with the viewpoint of the ANC many
times over the years. Now I am differing with them again. I do not
believe the time has come to wipe out the IFP's legacy and rob South
Africa of our contribution. I believe the IFP still has a remnant of
faithful patriots who are not willing to stand down and watch this
Party be destroyed. I know that there are many women among us here
who are witnessing the divisions being sown and saying to
themselves, "This is not the IFP". It seems this is not the IFP you
joined or the IFP you fought for. It is to these women that I wish
to speak as I close my remarks today.
Please, I urge you, do not give up on our Party.
Don't surrender to the frustration that all these ructions are
causing. Rather, let them stir you to righteous anger - not to
violence, but to work. Let them reignite your passion for this Party
and let us again work together, hand in hand, the way we have always
done to overcome the challenges that circumstance, history and
opposition have always placed before us.
This is the time for the Women's Brigade to begin
serious initiatives to mobilise support ahead of the 2011 Local
Government Elections. Let us not be so distracted that we lose sight
of the goal. I encourage you to get out into your communities and
recruit members. Tell people about the IFP, about its legacy and
what it can do for our country. Use your negotiating skills to reason with them.
Help people see the importance of a strong IFP for effective service
delivery and a local government that works. Right now, the Women's
Brigade needs to be focussed on building support for the Party.
I remain in awe of what our women can achieve. I
have seen your strength time and again. Now it is time to gather
your strength again and use it to reunite our Party. South Africa
needs a strong IFP and the IFP needs a strong Women's Brigade. Let
us cut through the smokescreens and lies, and jealously protect the
legacy of this Party. I am fighting for our survival. I ask you to stand
with me and fight.
Let us reunite the IFP through the strength of its
I thank you.
Contact: Ms Liezl van der Merwe, 082 729 2510.