25TH ANNUAL GENERAL CONFERENCE
LEADING THE STRUGGLE FOR DEVELOPMENT


PRESIDENTIAL ADDRESS BY
MANGOSUTHU BUTHELEZI, MP

EMANDLENI MATLENG, ULUNDI: JULY 8, 2000

The National Chairman, Mr LPHM Mtshali; the Deputy National Chairman, Dr BS Ngubane; the General Secretary of Administration, Mr MZ Khumalo; members of the Royal House present and amaKhosi; the National Chairperson of the Women's Brigade, Mrs EEN kaNkosi-Shandu; the National Chairperson of the Youth Brigade, Mr MB Khawula and the Chairperson Emeritus of the Youth Brigade, the Rev KM Zondi; members of the National Council; Members of the national Parliament; members of provincial Parliaments; Mayors, Councillors and Induna's present; delegates to this Conference, members of the IFP, my brothers and sisters.

I wish to congratulate the IFP. I am proud of my Party and of the long road we have walked with the people of South Africa. The whole of South Africa can take pride in the unique experience which has made the IFP the party of the future. What we have achieved we have gained with our hard work, which has established a foundation for our future growth that no one can undermine, no one can question and no one can ignore. The Inkatha Freedom Party has truly established itself as the engine room of our country’s development, always operating from where it is all happening; within our communities. We were born on the ground, we have lived on the ground and from the ground we have gained our right to lead the forward march of development.

With our Annual General Conference of 2000, we celebrate the 25th anniversary of our Party. Since its inception in 1975, Inkatha has led from the front. We have always been ahead of our time. We have looked towards the future because we believe the duty of politicians is to plan for the future. We have had no fear in taking decisions which at the time were unpopular, and we have challenged conventional wisdom because we knew this to be right and necessary for the future. We have had no fear in being out of step with the popular beat. We have been ahead of the popular beat and we march with longer steps than anyone else in our midst. We have made a name for ourselves by walking out of step because, day by day, history is proving to all South Africans that the IFP is simply steps ahead. The beat to which we walk is the heartbeat of our people in communities across South Africa.

My greatest source of joy in considering the successes of the past 25 years is that the IFP has never left its communities or run away to lead our people from a distance. We have remained in the thick of the battle, working for development hand-in-hand with all South Africans. We have bent our backs and taken up the heavy tools to build with. Side by side with ordinary people, we have worked practically to raise the quality of life of our poorest communities. I myself have talked, walked and suffered with teachers and nurses, students and labourers, encouraging our unity of purpose to create a better South Africa. I have never spoken from the lofty heights of a political pedestal, but have always talked the language of the people, which is the language of fact, truth and reality. I belong to the people of South Africa and this is my only reality.

The reality which the IFP has shared with the people of South Africa contains a dark chapter which some would wish to sweep under the carpet. The truth has been slow to emerge about the years of conflict, bloodshed and killings in which countless IFP supporters and office bearers lost their lives. Even now, the truth has not yet fully been investigated or appreciated. The report of the much-exulted Truth and Reconciliation Commission has revealed little to nothing about the real dynamics behind the black-on-black conflict of the past. Indeed, it seems that many would like to maintain the unsustainable idea that the armed struggle was what it pretended to be, namely a conflict limited to being between the black components of our society seeking liberation, and the white components trying to maintain the regime of apartheid.

Yet over the past forty years of my political career, I have attended more funerals than most men will see in their lifetime. I have stood beside the graves of those who were slain by the hands of their merciless South African brothers for the sake of political hegemony. I have wept with widows and comforted orphans, and all the while I have demanded peace for our people and an end to violence. Since those dark years, we have come a long way towards establishing reconciliation among our people. Yet peace will only truly become a reality when we find the courage to face up to the under-currents of tension which still haunt our best efforts at reconciliation, and acknowledge their origins openly.

Establishing peace has perhaps been the greatest challenge of the past 25 years. I know that there are few ordinary South Africans whose lives have not been touched by the violence we experienced. The legacy of the armed struggle continues today in the instance of rising criminality. An entire generation has been taught the rule of disrespect for authority, and embraced lawlessness and chaos through their training for an armed struggle. Today, crime impacts on the lives of countless South Africans, and so we continue to be haunted by the violence of our past. It is for this reason that I continue each day to dedicate my every effort to attaining peace in South Africa. By the grace of God, I believe that a turning point was reached in the process of reconciliation with the unveiling on October 16, 1999 of a monument to peace in violence-torn Thokoza.

On that occasion, I shared a podium with President Thabo Mbeki to send the message to all our people that their country’s leadership has committed itself to peace. It was not easy to secure this event, for I had been requesting such a joint rally with the ANC leadership since our Durban meeting with President Nelson Mandela in January 1991. However, I persevered in this call because I knew that peace would not take hold as a groundswell among our communities until enough encouragement had percolated down from the top levels of government. We needed to encourage our people to adopt peace by making it known that the ancient feuds were ending, the black-on-black violence was no longer acceptable and further bloodshed would not be condoned from any quarter.

While peace has become our resounding call in South Africa, the process of its establishment is a precarious balancing act. How do we tell our people on the ground to reign in their anger when their sons have been killed? How do we call for patience and stoic inaction when the blood of our grandfathers has been spilled on the soil where we now wish to build a new edifice of peace? To me, this is the true South African miracle; that our people are so committed to achieving the best possible future, that they will move on in spite of the past. Our willingness to move forward to develop our country is the foundation for reconciliation, and reconciliation remains the first step towards peace. However, dark clouds are still hovering over us. Political violence is continuing to target IFP leaders for assassination. Assassination, violence and intimidation remain tools of political action which continue to be used against us. This is intolerable and untenable. However, we shall not allow any provocation to drag our party into a vicious cycle of violence which cannot move us any further in securing the development of our country. Today, we stand as firm as we did in the past in saying no to violence.

At this stage, I must pay tribute to the Committee of three-a-side consisting of three ANC leaders and three IFP leaders, which President Mbeki and I set up to promote reconciliation, and to ensure that peace is restored after the war of attrition that took place between our members. This Committee put out a lot of fires which could have easily re-kindled the old flames of conflict. The fact that I can still speak of our leaders and members being killed in Nongoma in political assassinations, is not a result of the failure of the Committee of three-a-side. Had we not set up this Committee, the situation would have been much worse.

It is terrible to think that the same dogs of war that led to conflict in the assassination of Mr Sifiso Nkabinde are again busy fanning the flames of black-on-black violence in Nongoma. The latest victim of the actions of these assassins has been the attempted murder in this district on the 23rd of June of my Acting Deputy of the Buthelezi Clan, Mr Shodoba Ndlovu, who escaped death in his bed by God's Grace. All indications are that it is the same master-mind who was behind the death of Sifiso Nkabinde which now operates here in an effort to rout me out of my very nest with AK47 rifles.

We need to control our emotions and we need to be as far-seeing as we have been in the past. If we retaliate, we have to first think of the far-reaching consequences of such action. We are concerned with the development of our people. We know that if the armed struggle had prevailed, that the very base of any development would have been destroyed forever. We rejected the armed struggle for this reason. We know therefore that if we respond to the bait of certain rogue elements in the majority Party in this Province, that we will be destroying forever any chance of any development ever taking place at all. We know that it is not easy to see our young leaders like Joseph Sikhonde being used as cannon fodder by narrow-minded pipsqueaks who are trying so hard to drag us into the flames of violence which cost us so many lives in the past. We have to be patient and responsible because this is not confined to these violent deaths and violence used against our members. Just last week, Inkosi Nyanga Ngubane buried two brothers in Bulwer who were assassinated with AK47 rifles. We know that they were witnesses in a case which involves names of prominent leaders in this Province.

Some times one feels like despairing as to whether the three-a-side Committee can achieve the impossible in stopping this madness. And yet we who never lost hope at the height of conflict in this country, and knew that the solution to apartheid would be found by sitting around the table and negotiating, cannot abandon hope. We were looked at as having lost our minds because we were told that only by the force of the armed struggle can apartheid be destroyed. There is also a Committee of 10-a-side of IFP and ANC in this Province which was set up to promote reconciliation and peace. We implore them to take their duty more seriously and to discipline certain hawks within that provincial Committee.

I have always believed that the people of the IFP are the people of goodwill. I believe this because I have watched our people stand firm under intimidation and assassinations, refusing to submit to the armed struggle and rejecting the taking up of arms. The principles of passive resistance, moral high ground, negotiation and the priority of human life gave rise to Inkatha. I established the cultural liberation movement, Inkatha yeNkululeko yeSizwe, as a political home to the thousands of South Africans who rejected the use of violence as a tool to achieve progress. The two are mutually exclusive and I could never agree that bloodshed would speed up our liberation or secure any gains for our country’s future.

For 25 years, I have proudly watched the people of the IFP continue along the road of principled action. I have chosen to speak of peace and reconciliation today because of the direct impact stability will have on the development of our country. The IFP is leading the struggle for development as we always have in the past. Our struggle has always been about development. Indeed, the effect of genuine liberation is the evolution of our circumstances from that which is undesirable to that which is better suited to the progress of human development and upliftment.

For this reason, while others have stopped working after political liberation in the ill-founded belief that every blessing will naturally follow, the IFP has worked to achieve political liberation as a first step towards securing the full liberation of all our people from the ongoing burdens of poverty, ignorance for lack of education, experience and exposure, poor service delivery, unemployment, fear of criminality, lack of opportunity and a lack of basic necessities such as houses, hospitals, schools, roads, electrification and water reticulation. Our struggle has continued well past the 1994 elections. Today, we are working with sustained energy to multiply the benefits of social justice, which has been written into our new Constitution.

To this end, the IFP has continued to operate from where it is all happening: in communities. Our political success depends on our capacity to go back to our communities and promote development there. Our roots are in our communities and we are the only political party which can provide our communities with the message and hope they need. Development will not come only because of what Government has to provide. Development can merely be facilitated by government but in the end, it depends on what communities can do for themselves to take advantage of whatever help and assistance they can receive from government. We are the only party with the capacity, the track record and the vision to enable communities to match their efforts and desire to grow with the assistance that government provides them. Development starts and ends with communities and one should not hope that government can bring it about with its efforts alone.

In the first five years of our new democracy, the IFP participated in the Government of National Unity, contributing a leadership of experience and strong principles. We never wavered on issues of substance to our people and we never compromised long-term benefits for the short-term and short-lived social gains our fledgling government waved about as consolation for the fact that election promises were not being fulfilled. In those early days of our democracy, I repeatedly warned against the danger of raising false hopes. Our people needed to be told the truth; that there remained a long and uphill road ahead to genuine liberation. Many people have forgotten the purpose of our struggle which is about development and upliftment, not merely about political power.

The 1994 elections were not merely about handing over power from one party to another. The issue was dangerously over-simplified by those who had power to gain, and many people, lacking education and knowing no better, firmly believed that the high life enjoyed for too long by a privileged minority would instantly become the pleasure of the masses once democracy was achieved. It took little calculation to recognise that our country’s resources are too few and our economy too weak to simply transfer affluence from the few to the many. For decades I warned against a rosy coloured prognosis, knowing with foresight that South Africa would need to be far, far more economically prosperous for redistribution to have any appreciable affect. Once again, my warnings did not reflect the prevailing enthusiasm of political correctness. I was out of step because we walked ahead of future events to warn our people of what was to come.

We now see that some of the most negative predictions have come to pass and we must prepare our people to deal with the situation and find within themselves the strength to redress it. Since the day of liberation we have lost over half a million job opportunities in our country and our economic bases have not expanded sufficiently to absorb all those who aspire to a free and dignified life through employment. The levels of crime and social disintegration are rising and violence and intimidation is becoming a feature in many of our communities.

Too many people are exerting power over others which they have no right to exercise. Too many people are becoming bosses and tyrants at community level without any purpose or legitimation and just live off the lives and sacrifices of others. This is not the type of successful liberation to which I have dedicated my life and struggle. We must free our people, both from poverty and the tyranny and arrogance of anyone living by the method of violence, intimidation or extortion at community level. It is now our responsibility to work at community level, to heal and rebuild the fibre of our communities, for we predicted all this, but we were not heard.

I and the IFP were seldom heard and less often heeded during the days when the popular voice was calling for economic sanctions and international disinvestment against South Africa. I knew that such a campaign would weaken our economy further, causing the apartheid structure to reorganise itself and birth monopolies, which we are struggling to dissolve even today. Indeed, sanctions and disinvestment had little effect on the apartheid system. The affluent minority was hardly impacted, while the suffering of the poorest of the poor was compounded by an increased inaccessibility to resources and basic necessities.

When we achieved political liberation in 1994, we inherited an economy dramatically weakened and unable to cope with the righteous demand of all South Africans that equality of living standards emerge with immediate effect. Throughout this time I never once told my people that life would improve by hand-outs. I knew that we would face a dire situation after liberation in which the acceleration of our economic growth would require first priority. I always announced that the road ahead would be long, hard and uphill, and that we would need to continue to make sacrifices and work with increased dedication and personal commitment if we hoped to achieve a better tomorrow. This was not an easy message to tell my people when they were receiving the irresponsible promises of a better life for all through the South African miracle.

However, the people of the IFP were singularly well-equipped to receive my message of truth and my dreams of successfully achieving genuine liberation through a shared South African effort. For years, the people of the IFP have known the value of self-help and self-reliance. It is a cornerstone of the IFP. When I was Chief Minister of the erstwhile KwaZulu Government, I knew that we could never expect more than the insubstantial funding we received from Pretoria. It was pointless to sit around hoping that funding would increase while our children suffered for lack of education as schools went unbuilt and teachers unpaid. I knew that my people would never rise above their dire circumstances by waiting on the apartheid government, when the plan of apartheid was precisely to keep our people down.

We learnt then the lesson of how to pull ourselves up by ourselves. This is a lesson of Africa, which we can now apply to save all our communities. We are not the first to have learnt this lesson. Poverty has not been a prerogative of black people and our country has known white poverty. The Afrikaners had the courage to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and rise above their poverty and limitations. We shall do the same with even greater courage and determination.

I have always known that only people can help people. For this reason, and to combat growing poverty and hopelessness, I began the call for self-help and self-reliance. I firmly believed that our people had within themselves the strength of spirit to rise above their difficulties and to create something better within our communities. As we pulled together and worked hand in hand, we managed to build our own schools in this province, and educate our own children. Brick by brick we built clinics and houses, and the ownership of every structure belonged to the people. I am exceptionally proud of this achievement for it proves what I have always believed; that men and women can be suppressed, and still they will rise. They can be oppressed, and still they will rise.

Community development began in the heart of our communities and built itself up from within. Upliftment of our people’s circumstances was based on the ability of each individual to work as part of a collective effort for improvement. Community development has become an intrinsic part of the IFP culture, but we do not do it through false promises and a postponement of delivery. The IFP fights for enhanced service delivery to all our people, emphasising the need to work with whatever is available, to work together and to work continuously. There is so much left to be done before we see the dawn of the dream of genuine liberation. Yet I trust that this dawn will come.

As our South African struggle for liberation evolves, it is becoming more and more obvious that the IFP has always been best suited to fulfil the needs of our environment. Just as with any evolution, the rule of the survival of the fittest applies to our own struggle. Surely the IFP is here to stay, because we have the message which can save our people. Some people in government are no longer fit for the struggle, because from their viewpoint they have arrived. People in opposition to our government often do not care about the struggle. They are more concerned about criticising and pontificating than getting their hands dirty by working in communities to build a better future for our country from the ground up.

We are the Party of the present and as we move with the times, we will always be the relevant Party, the now Party, the Party best suited to survive. I know this is true, for the IFP has proven itself capable of adjusting to the circumstances of history while remaining the same in our core values and pursuits. Throughout our country’s transition from apartheid to democracy, throughout our institutional and constitutional transformation, throughout our pursuit of peace and reconciliation, the IFP has always been here operating from the central war room in our struggle for development. We have changed the face of the political landscape for the better and given South Africa a tangible opportunity to succeed and prosper. If the IFP had taken up the armed struggle, South Africa would have been turned to ashes. Yet if the IFP had been heeded in our many warnings, if our long-term vision had been recognised then as necessary to the present success of our country, South Africa would have been in a far better position to achieve our goals of social justice today.

The IFP’s leadership in the struggle for development stands upright and proud on two legs. The first is that of community development, and in this area we are known to our people as the best possible bearers of South Africa’s needs. The second leg is that of enhanced service delivery. For years the IFP has challenged government to do more with the little we have while expanding our resources. Our challenge is for government not to rely on empty promises to its people, as sooner or later disillusionment will destroy even our greatest hopes for success. The IFP challenge is for government to streamline itself, bringing the power to govern closer to the ground.

Federalism has been a cornerstone of the IFP ever since its inception. It is interesting to note that at this late stage, many policies which the IFP has been advocating for the past 25 years are now being adopted by government. The reason is plain and simple: our policies are good policies. Yet the fight for federalism continues unabated and we will be taking this fight into the local government elections later this year. Federalism is the true expression of democracy. We cannot allow the voice of the people to become muffled in the bureaucracy of a centralist system of governance, where corruption and power-mongering quickly take root.

The forthcoming local government elections are about empowering the people at the level of government where service delivery counts the most. It is there that our philosophy of devolution of powers and federalism is the most essential to ensure that local government works for the benefit of those at the ground level, rather than as a conveyor of order and directives from those who sit at the top. We must prepare for local government elections by resorting to the most effective strategy ever mustered by the IFP. We don’t conduct our political campaign through the media. We do not run our election campaign by attacking other parties or through smear operations. We do not rely for our political success on pretty slogans or inflammatory statements. Our best political strategy is that of hard work at community level on the side of the people, with the people and for the people.

We must transform our election campaign into machinery which can deliver to communities the message of development, self-help and self-reliance. We must explain to communities that they must work hand-in-hand with the new local governments, so that their efforts can be matched with those of municipalities. Our electoral message is that the IFP will be there, with them, working day in and day out to improve on the quality of their communities. We are not asking for political support, because of our political ambitions but to continue the community work which we are uniquely qualified to perform here.

If we conceptualise our election campaign as a massive effort of mobilisation towards community development, it is important that we adjust our strategies accordingly. Our election campaign must become an effort of mobilising our people with the right message. It is important that we utilise the opportunity of being together during this conference to prepare for our election campaign. We called this conference as a working conference to set in place the various aspects of our election campaign. The resolutions of our conference should dictate what people have to do in order for us to perform at our best during the election campaign. They should not merely state general political principles but set out concrete plans of action for us to follow in our campaign. We need to point out how our party structures operating on the ground, should mobilise and operate.

We must not therefore go out to campaign merely to ask the people to elect us so that we can wield power. We need power not to ensconce ourselves into positions of power for the sake of power. We need power to serve our people in order to ensure that there is delivery of services to them. We need power to uplift ourselves. We do not even have funds for the campaign, unlike most political parties. We believe that on the basis of the twin pillars of our philosophy of self-help and self-reliance, that we can conduct our campaign through voluntary service that we should be prepared to render to our Party.

When the Campaign Manager and the National Organiser address us during this Conference, we need to listen carefully to what roles we need to play in the forthcoming election campaign. There is a role for each and every one of us. Let people return to the old spirit that prevailed in this Party before. We did not do things on the basis of what is in it for each one of us before 1994. We worked on the basis of how much what we do advances our common cause.

People have become corrupted since the dawn of democracy in our land in 1994. People only want to be elected to positions for whatever perks of office their positions bring for them. On the one hand, people have become greedy to the extent that every person wants to be elected either to the Councils or to provincial and/or national Parliaments. Last year, I was deeply wounded when people vowed to fold their arms just because they were not included in the election lists. As we celebrate our 25th anniversary, I hope that we will bury these terrible, terrible attitudes here at this venue on Sunday when we leave for our homes to inspire others to mobilise for the forthcoming local government elections.

During our annual general conference last year, we adopted resolutions which began a widespread process of consultation. They contained questions and propositions to be tabled before our party branches for discussion. Discussions were held and many reports were received which indicated that the main concern of the body politic of the IFP is about development and our going back to our political roots in our communities. The consultative work which has taken place during the past year clearly shows that this is the time for collective leadership of our party, that our party is ready for it. This is a time that the party must be led from the grassroots and everyone must prove the worth of his or her leadership by showing what can be done and promoting our culture of self-help and self-reliance. It is the time for everyone to become a leader of our revolutionary goodwill, mobilising people to take charge of their destinies of making a personal contribution towards a better tomorrow.

This year, on this occasion, the message of my leadership of the party is that the party must be led from the grassroots. The time has come for the party to be lifted from the bottom up and for people to prove their worth without being spoon-fed with directives and instructions. I wish this conference to apply its mind on how to take further the resolutions we adopted last year. The issues were identified. The policies are in place. We have heard the concerns of our people. We have heard their aspirations. The IFP body politic wants the IFP to play more of the same role which gave reason to our existence. Our people want us to lead the struggle for development. The purpose of this conference is to set out plans which enable our people to become leaders of the struggle for development within their own communities. In this respect, each discussion group of this conference has indeed the same subject matter to deal with, even though from different viewpoints, which is the challenge of promoting development at community level through our revolution of goodwill.

I call upon all members of this conference to bring about a miracle of rebirth and regeneration. We go back to our roots to move forward into the 21st century. We think about the original inspiration of our genesis, to walk with our people ahead of our times towards our future. The future belongs to the IFP and the IFP belongs to the future. We have the responsibility of leading the struggle of securing a future of development and prosperity and, with the heart of gold and support of our people, we shall not fail.

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