Inauguration Of The Mayors' Forum
Address By Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP
President Of The Inkatha Freedom Party

 

The Durban Manor Hotel: 7 December 2010 

 

We meet at the end of a very difficult year for the IFP, with several chapters not yet closed. We are still awaiting judgment in the 12 November court case that will enable us to move forward with our Annual General Conference. We have yet to halt the spread of the "Friends of VZ" virus that has tainted so many of our councillors and municipalities. The goats are not yet separated from the sheep, and it is difficult to know who is on board with strengthening the IFP, uniting our Party and growing our support base; and who is in it for the glory, the status or the money.

 

In a strange sort of way the November 12th case and what happened on Sunday the 5th of November have been most enlightening in this issue of separating the goats from the sheep.  During the hearing of the High Court case quite a number of people nailed their colours to the mast in that those who still support the Party as we know it, sat separately from those who supported the Party being taken to court.  

 

Then on Sunday this happened in a most tragic manner when at Enseleni four of our members were tragically shot by a well-known personality.  This was after members of National Council who had gone to Enseleni to support the National Chairperson were told in no uncertain terms by the leading figures of "the friends of VZ" such as Messrs Nhlanhla Khawula and Wiseman Mcoyi, that they were not welcome to attend the function.  And insults were hurled at them including an alleged attack of Mrs Mchunu by Mr Khawula.  The shooting spelled the end of the function even before it began.  In a painful and tragic way it has been demonstrated just how serious the rift in the Party is.  There is nothing as strange as the chasing away of IFP leaders who had come to support an IFP National Chairperson who was sent to Parliament by the IFP.

 

In these complex circumstances, we meet as the leadership of the IFP in municipalities across KwaZulu Natal. Our coming together in this way is laudable, for it offers a unique opportunity to share ideas and information, to trouble shoot and solve problems. It also offers a forum in which we can express our commitment, by contributing ideas and relating our success stories. But let us not shy away from speaking about our failures as well, for in this way we learn from one another and avoid replicating the same mistakes in our own municipalities.

 

Anything that brings people together to tackle problems is a source of strength. I am therefore pleased to join our Mayors as we inaugurate a new IFP Mayors' Forum. At the outset, let me thank the Honourable Ms Thembani Madlopha-Mthethwa, the Mayor of Jozini for agreeing to lead this Forum. An onerous responsibility has been placed on your shoulders at a critical juncture in our Party. This speaks of the trust we have placed in you, and our confidence that under your leadership this Forum will be an asset to the IFP. I wish you every success.

 

As we inaugurate a new Mayors' Forum, we must face the unfortunate reality that its predecessor was not a success. This is not for lack of participation or lack of good intention. Rather, the Forum was hindered by the ulterior motives that were brought in by people who decided to align themselves with the "Friends of VZ". Our work was crippled. Our vision blurred. Our mission sidetracked. Today, we have a second chance, but we must be vigilant to prevent this new effort from being hijacked as well.

 

We are operating in a poisonous atmosphere where many councillors have been tainted by the "Friends of VZ" virus. The most serious threat posed by this virus is the weakening effect it has on the IFP as we approach the 2011 Local Government Elections. Our continued ructions send a message to the electorate that we are a weakened Party, in the middle of a split. The media, of course, has had a field day with this idea, and we have received negative publicity for more than a year. We have survived negative media during the black-on-black violence. And we survived the negative publicity during negotiations for a democratic South Africa, during the days when it was in vogue to support the "armed struggle".  We are yet to see whether the Party will still survive the present negative publicity which "the friends of VZ" have foisted on the Party this time.

 

So that, in itself, this is nothing new for the IFP. But we have not been able to balance the usual vitriol in the media with stories of our success, or our excellent service delivery, or our initiatives to uplift the people of KwaZulu Natal. The fact that none of this was publicized does not mean it isn't happening. I know that many of our Mayors and Councillors are working flat out for the people we serve. I am proud of the municipalities the IFP leads, for in many instances we are still proving ourselves the champions of the poorest of the poor, and the Party with the experience and know how.

 

I wish to congratulate those Mayors whose municipalities have been given a clean bill of health by the Auditor General. That is no small feat, and it shows that the IFP still understands the economics of service delivery. But it pains me to know that corruption has finally tainted our Party. In the many years I served as Chief Minister of the KwaZulu Government, not one single allegation of corruption was ever levelled at my administration. And when the time came to hand over the provinces to Pretoria, ours was the only province not in the red. With the little they gave us, we could still give some money back. It was a testimony to efficient financial management and the absence of corruption.

 

I have been determined to see the IFP maintain its reputation as a Party of integrity. But a mindset of entitlement that is foreign to the IFP has been brought in through the "Friends of VZ". Now we know that there have been corrupt tender processes, and brown envelope journalism. Councillors have been given money, or promised positions, if they work against their own Party. Municipal funds have been used to entrench divisions. This is all deeply disturbing, and it harms the reputation of the IFP.

 

This Party's reputation is of great value to me, because it is my legacy. But also because I know that the IFP still has a critical role to play in building and protecting South Africa's democracy. If the IFP were to fail, democracy would fail, and ultimately South Africans would suffer the birth of a one party State. We know this has been the plan of the ANC all along, for political hegemony has been their steadfast aspiration. This was clear in the 80s and early 90s when they replaced established leadership in our communities through the barrel of the gun. Now they are doing it with propaganda, and by bankrolling people within our own Party who think it is their time to lead.

 

But the legacy of this Party demands a leadership of integrity. Anything less would sound the death knell of the IFP. For this reason, I am struggling to make my decision about whether or not I can continue to lead this Party through its rough seas and into a smooth leadership transition. Our National Council has asked me to consider doing this, and our youth and women's structures, as well as SADESMO, have confirmed their support for my continued leadership.

 

Although I am old, I am not tired. I have not lost a single iota of passion for this Party I founded 35 years ago. If anything, I am more determined than ever to see it survive. For with all the opposition and vilification this Party has suffered since its inception, but it has never faced such a treacherous challenge.

 

The ANC has launched a powerful election campaign and has set its sights on taking over IFP controlled municipalities. The Premier of this Province, Dr Zweli Mkhize, has gone so far as to publically name some of the municipalities the ANC wants, including Umlalazi and Nkandla. Recently, President Jacob Zuma visited Nkandla and made election promises to the people. He is but one of the big guns they are bringing out and his appearance will be the first of many in KwaZulu Natal.

 

The race for the 2011 Local Government Elections is well under way. The question you need to ask yourselves in this new Mayors' Forum, is what you can do to ensure that the IFP gets as much coverage and as much exposure, but even more votes than our political opponents. The most important item on this Forum's agenda is winning the Local Government Elections. We need to hold onto power in our municipalities and protect our people from falling under the blanket leadership of a party that is more intent on political hegemony than service delivery.   But this needs a lot of sacrifice and commitment on the part of each and every one of us.

 

The ANC is back on the promises track. They will go from door to door with promises of what they will do for people who vote ANC in 2011.  With increasing frequency, they will come to our communities and speak in our constituencies, luring voters away with unrealistic promises.  Our people are not fools; but many of them are desperate. The reality of a lack of resources that bars municipalities from doing more for our people has left a gap in service delivery. The ANC will try to fill this gap with promises. In the long run, promises don't feed mouths. But in the short term, they can lure hearts. We need to work hard to keep our people's hearts.

 

Let us be blunt and face facts. If the IFP does poorly in the 2011 elections, many of our Mayors and Councillors will not be returning.  Some of you have done two terms, others have not yet completed your term. But I have no doubt that no one in this room wants to lose their job. The IFP has elected you as its Mayors based on your skills and commitment to the Party. We need you and we want you. We want to see you come back in 2011. But whether or not that happens will depend on your own hard work.

 

All our representatives, including Members of Parliament and Members of the Legislature, should consider themselves organizers of the Party. We all need to raise funds and mobilize support. We all need to be registering voters and signing up new members. We need to be going door to door. We need to be organizing rallies and meetings. We need to be speaking through community newspapers and community radio. We need to be visible, audible and bold. For if we are beaten in the coming elections, we are the ones who will not return.

 

The excuse I hear time and again for a lack of activity is a lack of resources. We all know that the Party is poor. But I marvel that Councillors, MPs and MPLs can bemoan the sorry state of our finances, while withholding their own levies. There are people who owe the IFP large sums of money, and there is no more critical time for the IFP to be supported financially than right now, as we head into elections. I urge this Forum to engage the problem of unpaid levies.  Failure to pay these levies is an act of great betrayal.  It is also evidence that such people cannot be trusted as loyal members of this Party.

 

Another issue I encourage you to explore is whether donations made to the Party are going into the Party's coffers or into mayors' pockets.  The whole issue of donations is contentious. There are a few things I would like to make clear today. As Mayors, you are expected to request donations and donations to the Party can be sought from anyone. But it must always be made clear that no benefit is being promised in consideration of a donation and no benefit should be expected.  Donations which are too closely related to a tender should not be accepted, for that amounts to corruption.

 

This Province has seen a terrible scandal erupt involving ANC officials and Intaka Holdings, whereby a wealthy businessman is alleged to have paid kickbacks to receive a contract valued at some R180 million. It is for the courts to decide who is innocent and who is guilty, but Mr Gaston Savoi has insisted that he was relying on advice from the highest levels of Government over what is acceptable and what is expected in a tender process.

 

The ANC has employed the system of commissions or kickbacks for a long time, and has made a lot of money in the process. It is difficult for some people not to envy this tradition, regardless of its legal and moral implications. But, as much as the IFP needs money, it cannot embrace a system that makes money at the expense of its people or its principles.

 

Having said that, I must return to the issue of Mayors who pocket donations meant for the IFP. This Party elected you to occupy these positions. This does not confer any right to receive Party funds. We need to bring all funding into the IFP's coffers to distribute according to collegial wisdom and party strategy. A little election effort here and there is nothing compared to what we can achieve if we follow a well-funded strategy.

 

An election strategy for our Mayors must top the agenda of this new Forum. As your leader, I task you with growing the IFP. It is not a new job or an unusual one. But it is essential to our survival. As you engage the possibilities this Forum brings, I ask that you seek the Party's unity and strength. Let us put away squabbles and offence, and work together for the future of the IFP.

 

I thank our Mayors and I thank our Chair. May this Forum prove to be the launch pad of our success.

 

Contact:
Ms Liezl van der Merwe,
Press Secretary to Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP, on 082 729 2510.