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