The Mangosuthu University of Technology: Umlazi: 6 August 2011
I wish to thank the President of SADESMO, Mr
Ntuthuko Majozi, and the National Council of SADESMO, for inviting
me to address this elective conference. As we reiterated earlier
this year, SADESMO is a structure of the IFP and serves the
interests of the IFP among South Africa's students. The IFP's
successes are therefore the successes of SADESMO, just as the
challenges the IFP faces are the same challenges faced by our
Like the threshing basket, this organization has
been agitated and shaken. In so doing, the wheat has been separated
from the chaff, for the chaff has been blown away on the winds of
division and deceit.
What is left seems like less than what we started
with. But what we have now is far more valuable. What we have in
SADESMO now can be turned into political bread to nourish and
But I must still add a warning that SADESMO is
still facing elements who are determined to undermine it or even
destroy it. So there
must be no time for relaxation.
As long as you are operating as the principled organization
that you are, accept that you will have enemies that will crop up
even within your own ranks.
This has been the story of my life.
This has been the story of the IFP.
Accept that this will be the story of the life of SADESMO.
Any organization would be severely tested by the
kind of storms the IFP went through in the past two years, from the
first ructions caused by the "Friends of VZ", to the failed court
case of Mrs kaMagwaza-Msibi in which her treachery was exposed, to
the split she created and the formation of the National Freedom
Party mere weeks before the Local Government Elections. Then the
election results, which proved the destructiveness of the NFP
splitting the vote, and the NFP-ANC coalition that proved the NFP
was a surrogate of the ruling Party.
The IFP weathered all these storms with resolute
faith in our principles, our legacy and our supporters. There is no
question that we were bruised and damaged by what transpired,
particularly by the election results. But after all this; after the
consistently negative media coverage we received; after the
escalation of brown envelope journalism and biased reporting; after
the pundits repeatedly penned our obituary; and after we struggled
to compete with the flush flow of funds in the ANC and NFP; the IFP
emerged with the support of so many South Africans that we regained
the position of third largest political party in this country.
Those who were gleeful about what happened during the local
government elections must accept the fact that while we are bruised
by the ANC/NFP onslaught, they are far from done with us.
Let me remind them of the famous words of President Mandela
in April 2002; "We have used every ammunition to destroy 'Buthelezi,
but we failed. And he is still there. He is a formidable survivor.
We cannot ignore him."
We did it because we never stopped working when
the odds were stacked against us. We never gave up and we never gave
in. Ironically, through this storm we have proven ourselves
perfectly cut out for the role that has now been thrust upon us;
that of opposition politics. The election result has shed us of the
responsibilities of governance in most municipalities and given us
the mandate to pursue a no-holds-barred opposition role. The
tensions between being in government and being a watchdog over
government have been removed, enabling us to focus all our energy
and resources on being a vigilant and vocal opposition.
This is a role the IFP is well-equipped to play,
and it is a role that politically active students are naturally
drawn to. History proves that ideological revolutions are born on
Institutions of higher learning are the crucible
in which social change is forged. This is not because students
become presidents and ministers, but because students become the
voice of dissent, demanding that what is wrong in a society and a
government is put right.
As the IFP takes on the role of opposition, we
rely on SADESMO to ignite a new passion within students for
opposition politics. In some ways, that is not hard to do, because
opposing the many inefficiencies, corrupt practices and inadequacies
of government is easy. We do not need to look far for a fight, or a
cause to adopt. But opposition politics is about more than
complaining loudly. It is about serving the interests of our people
by protecting and promoting first the Constitution, then the
institutions that uphold our Constitution and the values that
The task ahead is made more difficult by the
handicap we suffer in the IFP of being a cash-strapped party. There
are not enough resources for us to accomplish all that we envision,
and often our good ideas cannot be implemented for lack of finances.
I know that SADESMO has suffered because of this. It is frustrating
when you know what needs to be done, but you cannot do it. One of
the areas in which we will need to develop our skills is that of fund-raising. We
have no other choice.
We in the IFP are unfortunate in that unlike what
happens in the ruling Party, for instance, hardly any of our
entrepreneurs ever think of giving the Party any financial
assistance. So SADESMO
as part of our movement suffers the same fate as we do, as a Party.
That is why we see some of our unprincipled Tenderpreneurs
leaving the IFP like rats who think the ship is sinking.
It is sad that we find these even amongst people of your age
group. You have no idea
of the clandestine meetings similar to those meetings which preceded
the birth of "the friends of VZ" which these elements are attending
with the top leadership of the governing party.
They continue to plan and plot my downfall and the
destruction of the IFP.
If we are to build up our support base once again,
we will need to find creative ways of commanding attention and
making our message heard. One of the rich veins we have not yet
tapped into is that of high school learners who will be 18 years old
at the next elections.
SADESMO has gained ground in many tertiary
institutions, but we have made no in-roads at high schools. This is
a mistake. We need to take full advantage of students'
organizations, linking up with them and promoting the IFP's message
of strong opposition to all that is wrong in the present system.
The voters of 2014 are in Grades 11 and 12 right
now. They are already aware of the challenge they face when they
finish school, because poverty and high unemployment levels threaten
their future. They are already familiar with social challenges like
HIV/Aids, crime and substance abuse. They already know that housing
is a problem, and food is expensive, and there is too much
corruption going on in politics.
They have already been exposed to ANC Youth League
slogans and ideas.
At an age when they are most easily influenced,
their opinions are already being formed.
We cannot afford to miss this opportunity to match
their ideals to the sound principles of the IFP right now, hoping
instead to change their minds when they reach tertiary level. We
need to reach them now, in high school, and show them a political
home that expresses their passion, patriotism and concerns. This is
the challenge for SADESMO in the coming year.
We face this challenge in the full awareness that
students are questioning the value of joining the IFP in the light
of all the divisions and ructions we have gone through. We lost
several SADESMO leaders and members to the split in the IFP and some
of them defected to NASMO, believing the NFP to be a better option.
When the NFP climbed into bed with the ANC, several NASMO members
wanted to come home to SADESMO, for they were disenchanted by the
truth about the NFP. They had believed a lie, but their eyes had
Whenever I sound warning bells, I never do so
lightly. When I warned
about "the friends of VZ" and later the NFP being birthed through
funding from some of the top brass of the ANC, I knew what I was
talking about. I had all
the evidence. The
present coalition between the ANC and the NFP has proven that what I
said was by no means just sheer idle talk.
We welcomed these people back to SADESMO, for we
cannot hold a lapse of judgment against anyone and leave them out in
the cold. We are a grassroots movement; a movement of the people. We
will never exclude anyone who aligns themselves with the principles
and values of the IFP. But we demand that those who join SADESMO
accept the responsibility of representing the IFP and the IFP's
values. Too much confusion has been sown about SADESMO and NASMO,
about the IFP and NFP and the role of the ANC in fomenting tensions.
We cannot expect to move forward if confusion persists.
The Constitution of the IFP provides that those who return to
the Party must be accepted, but that a cooling off period be
observed before they are given positions of trust again in the
Party. Remember what
happened with Mr Sikhumbuzo Khanyeza.
Others were opposing his election as chairperson of the Youth
Brigade in the Province, because he had just joined the IFP from the
ANC. Just look back now
and think of how right they were about this gentleman, when we think
of how he denied that he was joining the NFP and the amount of
crocodile tears that he shed, as he made these denials in the NEC.
Confusion is often created on the ground by
internal conflicts. The kind of conflict we are still seeing within
SADESMO is not acceptable, for it threatens the stability and the
future of the movement. We cannot grow in the midst of conflict. Who
would want to join an organization that is riddled with tensions and
squabbling? We cannot offer a political home to students when our
message is diluted by our behaviour. When students look at SADESMO,
they need to see the principle of unity reflected in the unity of
our structures and the cooperation of our members. They need to see
a movement that is functioning well; is disciplined, cohesive and
focused on the goal.
In order to create that kind of movement, SADESMO
needs sound leadership. This conference is important to the future
of the IFP, for it is here that you will decide the future of
SADESMO. It is here that you will choose the leaders who can rebuild
our students' movement into a vibrant, unified and focused
structure. I urge you to choose leaders who can work in a team, as
part of the team, for the benefit of the team. This is not the time
for lone rangers and status-seekers.
This is the time for leaders who can draw people
together around a common goal.
The leaders you choose today will also represent
SADESMO in the IFP's elective Conference in October this year. They
will be responsible for carrying your mandate to Conference.
As you know I was asked by the National Council, backed by
the IFP Women's Brigade, and the IFP Youth Brigade and the Executive
Committee of SADESMO to continue leading the Party until such time as we may have a smooth
I have neither said yea or nay to that. The
ructions created by the "Friends of VZ" and the treachery of our
former National Chairperson made it impossible for me to step away
from leadership, for I could not abandon our Party to disorder and
division. Now that the NFP has been formed and the Local Government
Elections are over, some commentators think it is time I leave.
I would welcome an opportunity to do so as long as the Party
is not wreaked by the interferences from the ANC's leadership.
Of course, that has been the old refrain for
years; that it is time for Buthelezi to retire. I have tried to
retire on two occasions, and we know that Conference unanimously
asked me to remain. Our detractors like to pretend that I am somehow
clinging to power, as though I have anything to gain at this stage
in my life from titles or positions.
This lie that I refuse to leave is painful to
hear, for I have remained at the behest of my Party and have
sacrificed the reward of rest that people my age have earned. When
the ANC continues as it is doing at present, to undermine and
destroy the IFP, I have a great dilemma as to what to do.
Should I run away or rather be destroyed with the IFP?
I pray that God finally guides me.
Securing the future requires continuity of
leadership. That does not necessarily mean electing the same people,
but it means supporting people who are committed to upholding the
legacy of the IFP. In terms of this conference of SADESMO, it means
choosing leaders who seek to unify our Party and grow our support
base. As the President of the IFP, I leave it in your hands to
ensure continuity of leadership.
I have not yet had the opportunity to thank you in
person for the hard work you performed during this year's Local
Government Elections. We were disappointed with the results, but not
with our efforts. Many of you worked passionately to keep our
supporters and to get them out to vote. For that, I thank you. I
hope that you will build on that work and learn from those
experiences as you continue to recruit and mobilize students to
support the IFP in 2014. That is not a task for some future date. It
is the task at hand. I urge you to start now, become more active and
We have a lot of ground to make up and a lot of
organizing to do. We have fires to put out, and fires to light. The
conflicts and divisions must be quelled, and a new enthusiasm must
be ignited. I know the difficulty you have faced due to the lack of
resources. We feel it everywhere in the Party. Cost-cutting measures
have affected our reach. But a lack of resources does not affect our
message. We cannot attract students with fancy events and costly
festivals. But we can draw them into debate, get them thinking and
show them a political home that shares their hopes, their concerns
and their values.
If, at the same time, we can model a movement that
is unified, focused and undeterred by the fickleness of political
fortunes, we will grow our support base. Our voice of opposition
will increase in volume and strength, and SADESMO will be heard at
the vanguard of change in South Africa. That is where you should be.
That is the birthright of the legacy we have created in the IFP. But
you will need to fight hard for your birthright, for there are those
in the ANC and in the NFP and even in the media who are all too
ready to strip it away. By rights, SADESMO should lead the call for
change in our country.
As you emerge from this conference, I pray that
SADESMO will be equipped with the leaders and the mandate to take up
this role. I thank you.
Contact: Ms Liezl van der Merwe, 082 729 2510