Ulundi: 9 August 2010
Of the many events that the IFP Women's Brigade
could have organized to mark this day on our national calendar, it
is wonderful that you have chosen to come together in prayer. At a
time like this, with the troubles we face in our Party and in our
nation, it is good to set aside a moment to focus on our faith, to
thank the Almighty for His hand upon us - individually and as a body
- and to seek wisdom for the way ahead.
This is not the first time we have found ourselves
traversing difficult waters. The IFP Women's Brigade bears the
memory of our country's liberation struggle, during which the
members of our Party worked and sacrificed and persevered in the
most desperate circumstances. This body also bears the memory of the
low intensity civil war of the eighties that brought grief into our
own homes with the loss of husbands, sisters, and children. The
violence of that time claimed 20,000 black lives and is a scar on
We remember apartheid, segregation and separation
from our families. We remember being uprooted and displaced. We
remember working the fields from dusk to dawn and still not having
enough to feed our children. We remember poverty, a lack of access
to basic services like running water, electricity and sanitation. We
remember the absence of justice, the inaccessibility of financial
assistance, the pain of seeing our children suffer. But most of all;
we recall the constant gnawing misgiving that the power to change
South Africa would remain beyond our grasp.
Today, in the full light of liberation,
politicians would have us believe that the people never doubted we
would attain freedom. I have always marvelled at how former President
Nelson Mandela, when writing to me from Robben Island, seemed
convinced of our eventual success. In truth, he was one of the few.
Of course we all hoped; and we dared not stop hoping, for the
alternative was too ghastly to contemplate. But as we waged the day
to day struggle against discrimination and minority rule, most of us
faced a battle to keep believing.
That is the nature of faith. It is not automatic,
unshakable or unwavering. It needs to be constantly exercised in
order for its power to be revealed. In Romans 12 the Apostle Paul
reminds us that we all have been given a measure of faith. What has
been given to you is neither greater nor less than what has been
given to me. Why then do some believe steadfastly despite the
circumstances, while others falter at the first sign of adversity? I
believe the answer lies in relationship.
I have found that when one walks in a relationship
with Christ, submitting and praying, reading the Word and believing,
repenting and reforming; when trials come, one is able to bear them.
In the light of God's greatness, one gains a new perspective on
obstacles, challenges and difficulties. We are warned in Hebrews 11
verse 6 that, "Without faith it is impossible to please God, for he
who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder
of those who diligently seek Him." To me, faith in God depends on an
understanding of God's character, and that requires a relationship.
Throughout my life, the source of my strength and
energy has been my relationships. There have been many dark hours in
which I suffered the arrows of vilification and lies. Many turned
against me when the propaganda machine began to label me an enemy of
freedom and a stooge of the State. I thank God that many others
stayed at my side and walked with me through the valley of lies. Men
and women of faith encouraged me with their friendship; they prayed
for me, and with me, and their steadfastness strengthened my
It was not only vilification that made my career
difficult. I have been faced with many tough decisions as a leader
in our country. There has always been the choice between flowing
with what is popular, and standing for what is right. Taking a stand
for truth is often lonely and invariably comes at a cost. It was not
easy for me to speak out about HIV and Aids when our culture shies
away from talking about sex in public. Particularly as a leader, I
was expected to refrain from addressing such issues. But it was
because I am a leader that I knew I had to speak openly when I lost
two of my children to this disease.
My public acknowledgement that my son and daughter
had both succumbed to Aids opened the way for other leaders to
broach the subject. South Africa's fight against HIV/Aids had been
crippled for years by the veil of secrecy and shame that still
covered this topic. Government's approach to fighting this war has
left much to be desired and some of its policies have taken us
backwards. But I feel we are still able to arrest the onward march
of HIV/Aids if we keep talking to eradicate ignorance, keep working
to increase the quality and length of life of sufferers, and keep
committing ourselves to live responsibly.
The decision to champion the fight against
HIV/Aids was one of the easier decisions I have had to make in my
career. Others were more complicated and it was not always obvious
what I should do. I knew that no matter what I did or said as a
political leader, I would never be able to please everyone all the
time and the cost of my calling would be a growing number of
detractors as the years went by.
My decision to reject nominal independence for
KwaZulu broke the back of the grand scheme of apartheid, but it won
me no medals. My decision to reject the armed struggle and the call
for international sanctions and disinvestment kept our country from
greater poverty and certain war, but it earned me the contempt of my
These are decisions in the public domain and
history remembers them well. But behind the scenes there were
countless choices I needed to make every day, and these were the
choices that brought the IFP and South Africa to where we are today.
I chose to campaign for the release of Nelson Mandela, even though
the nationalist government threatened me for doing so. I chose to
meet with liberation leaders in exile, even though my passport was
then confiscated for 9 years. I chose to make the IFP a home to all
South Africans with a common goal of freedom, even when the former
Minister of Justice instructed me to limit it to Zulus. And I chose
one wife, even though my culture pressurized me towards polygamy.
Today, it is no secret that my relationship with
my wife has been a tremendous blessing to me. Princess Irene has
been a faithful help-meet, sharing both my pain and my joys as half
a century in public life exposed me to the best and the worst in
human nature. She has encouraged me, advised me, warned me and
prayed for me. Opportunities for me to publically acknowledge her
remarkable character are too few, and I take this, the celebration
of Women's Day, as a moment to honour her before women.
And to celebrate with you the 58th Anniversary of
our marriage which was on the 2nd of July 2010.
It is also well known that my relationship with my
mother greatly influenced my faith and my political career. It was
my mother who ensured that I received a higher education, and it was
she who taught me the value of exercising my faith in the manner the
Bible exhorts us, through "psalms and hymns and spiritual songs;
sing and make music in your heart to the Lord?" (Ephesians 6 verse
19). These relationships strengthened me and shaped my character.
Being close to these two women in my pilgrimage has been one of the
greatest blessings of my life. I thank God for them.
The Women's Brigade of the IFP can attest to the
power of relationships. Throughout the years, it has always been our
call to work hand in hand, to help ourselves and help one another.
Our foundational belief is ubuntu botho and we know that no one is
truly rich when their neighbour still lives in poverty. The IFP
Women's Brigade has also been a great blessing in my political
journey. It has been the backbone of the IFP and women of the IFP
have rarely abandoned me. Some have abandoned me and betrayed me.
But there have been less betrayals by women members in the long row
of all the traitors that have betrayed me over the years. For this,
I again thank the Almighty.
When I was the Chief Minister of KwaZulu, we
developed partnerships between government and communities that
enabled us to build schools, houses and clinics, even on the
shoestring budget allocated to KwaZulu. The relationships between
IFP women have given birth to cooperatives, vegetable gardens,
shared childcare and community development. I am proud of our women.
But I must confess that I am extremely concerned
that our Women's Brigade members seem to have been distracted by
other things from following our beliefs in self-help and
self-reliance. By doing
so we are allowing people to steal our clothes and in the process we
fail ourselves in addressing the gut-wrenching poverty that women in
particular have to address in all our communities.
In spite of the damage control which our sister Mrs Mchunu is
trying to do, our Women's Brigade Conferences' Exhibition no longer
give us a window to see the demonstration of self-help and
self-reliance which IFP Women's Brigade Conference Exhibitions
showed us in the past. And yet we have not been faced with a more
challenging time than that which we face at this time especially
when it comes to food security in the midst of the global recession.
Our rural areas are no longer as green as they use to be
before 1994. This is one of the greatest challenges our Women's
Brigade is facing. We
need to have a hand in helping our people to face the problem of
But in the same way as relationships can build
one's strength, so too can the destruction of relationships cause
great pain. We are seeing this happen in our own Party, where the
divides between supporters and non-supporters are becoming nothing
short of factionalism and the tensions are breeding violence. The
ructions this has caused have had a serious impact on our Party;
both on its internal functioning and its capacity to serve South
Africa. Moreover, our image has been tarnished in the public eye and
support for the IFP is in danger of further dwindling.
Our attention has been so focused on our internal
problems that we have failed to fully implement the Vukuzithathe
campaign with which we tasked ourselves last year. We have failed to
mobilize and grow support for next year's Local Government
Elections. And we have failed to give South Africa a party untouched
by power struggles, dirty politics and violence. That is perhaps our
greatest failing. I have warned us repeatedly that if these problems
continue, they will destroy the IFP's legacy.
The legacy of this Party is my legacy, but it is
also the legacy of the Women's Brigade. This body has invested a
tremendous amount of time and energy into the IFP, as well as
investing its reputation.
Thus if the Party fails, the Women's Brigade
fails. I have made it clear before that I also believe that if the
Women's Brigade fails, the Party will fail. Our greatest support
remains among the women of South Africa. The majority of our members
are women, and the majority of our active members are women. You are
the backbone of the IFP.
There are people who have decided to cultivate a
very convenient amnesia amongst members of this Party and
particularly when it comes to the gender issue.
No one can with a clear conscience accuse me and
the IFP of having failed to address the gender issue. I addressed
this issue long before 1994, before it was in vogue to address it. I
repealed the Zulu Code of Law which enslaved women of this province.
I made it possible for women to have locus standi in judicio.
In other words to sue and be sued in their own name. I changed their
status of being perpetual minors to be majors and to have a right to
own property. Women did not have a right to own their houses and I
removed from our statue books laws that prevented women from owning
property. The cruel habit of chasing away women from their houses
once their spouses had died was abolished by me and the KwaZulu
government many decades ago and before the dawn of our freedom.
Can women so easily forget these things and be so gullible as
to swallow hook, line and sinker the propaganda of our political
enemies and of some of the useful idiots within the Party that are being used by our political opponents to vilify me
and the leadership of the IFP?
Who appointed the first woman as a Minister in South Africa?
It was me when I appointed Dr Mthalane as the first Deputy
Minister of Health in the KwaZulu government. After the dawn of our
liberation we appointed former leaders of this Women's Brigade Mrs
Nokukhanya kaNkosi-Shandu and
Mrs Faith Xolile Gasa as Ministers of Education in the
KwaZulu Natal government. Where do these lies that we do not address
the gender issue come from?
If anyone wished to destroy this Party, they would
aim their blow at the backbone. And that is exactly what is
happening. I was appalled to hear an ANC Minister of State, Mr Tokyo
Sexwale, publically affirming the lie that the IFP and its
leadership are persecuting our National Chairperson. The ANC Women's
League quickly jumped on the bandwagon and offered Mrs Magwaza-Msibi
succour and support. The image was created of an IFP that cares
nothing for its women; a Party that is trying to stifle its women's
voices and ambition.
That is not the Party I founded, nor is it the
Party this Women's Brigade fought for over the past three decades.
For many of our members, the work of the Women's Brigade spans their
lifetime. You have grown up in this Party and know the Party as
home. I therefore pray that you will not be led astray in your own
home to become part of a plot to destroy the IFP. It seems
inconceivable, but I have been flummoxed at the names that have
become embroiled in this whole debacle. I ask you to remain
steadfast and to question whether what you are doing is preserving
the IFP's proud legacy, or obliterating it.
We each must live with our own conscience. That is
a lesson I have learned in over half a century in politics and
public life. It is the yardstick by which I measured the choices I
made when I was faced with difficult decisions, both during our
liberation struggle and in the sixteen years of democracy.
Liberation did not automatically make leadership easy. On 27 April
1994, we took the first step on a long journey towards creating the
South Africa our people had always dreamed of. Political
enfranchisement was the first milestone. Ahead lay the markers of
social justice, legislative reform, the rule of law and shared
We have not passed these markers yet, and our
journey continues. The IFP is still at the vanguard of this journey.
We still carry the mandate of hundreds of thousands of South
Africans from every walk of life. We still represent our nation in
Parliament and in the Provincial Legislatures and in our
Municipalities. We still have hundreds of Councillors serving at the
local level across this country.
The IFP is still needed and still relevant, and we
will press forward today, tomorrow and in the years to come for the
sake of the country we love.
We may have experienced problems since 2009, but
what is a year of difficulty compared with 35 years of strength? Our
history and our legacy still stand, and they remind us of our
commitment to serving South Africa. We will remember this time of
hardship in the Party, just as we remember every other storm we have
weathered. And members of the Women's Brigade in generations to come
will point to it and tell their sisters; this is where we learnt the
importance of unity.
This was the moment of reckoning. May future
generations remember this time as the catalyst that provoked us to
stronger relationships and unity of purpose.
May God guide us towards this outcome.
I thank you.