IFP Women's Brigade Rally In Celebration Of National Women's Day
Address By Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP
President Of The Inkatha Freedom Party


 

Lindelani Community Hall, KwaDukuza: 9 August 2011

 

I wish to thank the Women's Brigade of the IFP for bringing us together in celebration of national Women's Day.

 

I recently had the opportunity to visit the city of Johannesburg to thank our supporters there for voting for the IFP in the May 18th Local Government Elections. Considering how negative commentators have been about the IFP since the elections, some might have expected to see a subdued and rather small group gathering to greet us in Johannesburg. But the George Goch Stadium was filled with an enthusiastic crowd, cheering us on and agreeing with the new mandate of the IFP to engage opposition politics.

 

That was outside of KwaZulu Natal, where our detractors like to pretend the IFP is no longer relevant. I am pleased that the attendance here is just as good. The thing is, no matter how disappointed we were with the election results and no matter how often the doomsayers predict the IFP's demise, the Local Government Election results saw the IFP regaining our position as the third largest political party in South Africa. This is surprising that this is so, in spite of all those of our members who were deceived by our former Chairperson Ms kaMagwaza-Msibi with her sleight of hand politics to defect with her to form the new party.

 

Across South Africa more than a million votes of support were cast for the IFP, whether they were for an IFP councillor, an IFP-run municipality or an IFP-led district. Voters were given two or three ballot papers on which to make their choice, and some 1.3 million times the people chose the IFP.

 

But the mandate they gave us was not to govern. Instead, the people have asked us through the ballot box to take up their cause and fight for a better South Africa. They have asked us to be their champion in setting right all that is wrong with the governance of our country; from corruption to a lack of moral leadership, from the inability to create jobs to a lack of political will to adopt the right economic policies.

 

Everyone knows we need a better education system, better policing, a better housing programme and better health care. But what the people of South Africa are now realizing is that Government needs someone to follow them around like a shadow, point out their inefficiencies and check that it gets fixed. Without that, a government begins to think it can do as it pleases, when it pleases, and the people must just accept it. Clearly our Government has begun to think this way.

 

There is contempt for the genuine will of the people, for the ANC thinks that the ANC alone can decide what the people want. The ruling Party has always been inclined to decide for the people, rather than letting the people decide. Even when the ANC was banned during the apartheid era, the ANC's mission-in-exile decided from a distance what the people living in South Africa needed. Many of us in this hall, and most of our mothers and aunts, suffered the daily indignities of apartheid. We were never asked whether, on top of the harsh trials of poverty and inequality, we could shoulder the pain of burying our loved ones and seeing bloodshed rend our country. The ANC's Mission-in-exile decided that an armed struggle was necessary: that it was the will of the people. It was not my will. It was not yours.

 

Now the ANC Youth League wants us to believe it is the will of the people that South Africa nationalizes its mines. I think it is cowardly and utterly insulting for a few young leaders to claim that their own opinions constitute the will of the people. Something is not automatically in the best interests of the people just because a leader calls for it. In a democracy, a leader listens first and then speaks. They lead from behind, with collegial wisdom and a collective sense of ownership. The kind of leadership we are seeing in South Africa is being shaped by the politics of power.

 

Tenderpreneurs are getting richer. Politicians' houses are getting bigger. The suits are getting smarter. The bonuses are flowing. It's all about who you know and who you help. Corruption has taken root and it is beginning to thrive, because those who should stop it are hesitant to act. South Africa has been waiting for four weeks for the President to act on the recommendations of the Public Protector. We waited three weeks for him to even respond to the Public Protector's Report that found the National Commissioner of Police and the Minister of Public Works guilty of maladministration to the tune of millions of Rand. President Zuma's government's silence on this matter is deafening.

 

When the President finally spoke, he simply emphasized his own innocence in the highlighted debacle. He has yet to tell us what he is going to do about the Minister and the National Commissioner. The Public Protector's Report is based on comprehensive forensic investigation. For the Presidency to claim that nothing can be done yet because they are still fact checking, is a delay tactic. How long must we wait to see whether our Executive Head will make good on all the promises of Government that they are tough on corruption, even at the highest level? The President has been very vociferous about his government's determination to wipe off corruption.  This is the time for him to walk the talk.

 

Once again it is clear that the ruling Party needs someone to watch them and to take them to task when they fail us. That is the role of a good opposition. It is the role the electorate has given the IFP. The Local Government Elections shed us of most of the responsibilities of governance. Ironically, the election results are due largely to the split vote caused by the NFP. The NFP was vocal before these elections, telling people that they were a better alternative to the IFP. Presumably, they could hold the ANC to account better than we can. I'm not sure how they are going to do that from their side of the bed, but let's watch and see.

 

Many voters are frustrated with the NFP because the NFP has disregarded their mandate. People who voted for the NFP did not want an ANC leadership. If they had wanted the ANC, they would have voted for the ANC. But as soon as they had given their vote to the NFP, the NFP went into coalition with the ANC. I warned many times before the elections that a vote for the NFP was a vote for the ANC. I said this because a split vote would hand municipalities to the ANC on a silver platter. We believed that there was even a plot to do this and we warned that the NFP owed the ANC an enormous debt for bankrolling the "Friends of VZ" in their efforts to destabilize the IFP. We were ridiculed in the media as if we were speaking through our necks when we stated these facts, backing them with sworn statements. But who doubts this today?

 

Now that all is said and done, there is no more room for speculation. The ANC called in its debt and the NFP betrayed the mandate of its supporters. I suspect there will be a price to pay for the NFP in years to come, for people will not be so easily duped again. When the NFP went into coalition with the ANC in the 19 hung municipalities, it did exactly what the ANC always does: it claimed the will of the people. In the face of it being abundantly clear that the people did not ask for a coalition government, the NFP claimed they did.

 

That is the difference between the NFP and the IFP. Mrs kaMagwaza-Msibi got tired of waiting for the IFP to want a new President. So she decided to tell our Party that, even though they had never asked for her, and even though Conference had twice refused my intention to resign, the people actually wanted her as their President. She decided that she would determine "the will of the people", even if the people disagreed. At that point, she cast off the IFP's character and became closer in character to the ANC.

 

But the IFP never changed. Our legacy is too sound and our character too strong to be swayed by the failings of individuals. We remain a party that listens first to the people and respects what they tell us. 

 

The people have told us what they want through the Local Government Elections, and we are responsive. The IFP is well-equipped to take up the role of strong opposition. We have been defending opposition politics and promoting multi-party democracy since before liberation.

 

We were never scared by the National Party's Kragdadigheid to oppose the apartheid regime.  We are not intimidated by the ANC's might either.  We have proven that constant dropping wears away the stone. At the height of their power no one could even dream that the National Party apartheid regime would ever be defenestrated.

 

It was Inkatha that succeeded in creating South Africa's first non-racial, non-discriminatory government, the KwaZulu-Natal Joint Executive Authority. Inkatha gave the example of how governance by all, for all could be achieved. It was the IFP, under my leadership, that demanded the release of political prisoners and the unbanning of political parties before engaging constitutional negotiations. And it has been the IFP that consistently stands up and defends multi-party democracy.

 

The ANC talks about inclusivity, but sees it as an ideal of a one-party state. The IFP talks about everyone having a stake in South Africa, which is an ideal best achieved through a vibrant multi-party system. I have no doubt that this reflects what the people of our country really want. We want to be masters of our own destiny, in a country that offers the opportunity to succeed. Government is not there to dictate, it is there to enable. By providing an education system that prepares learners for the workplace, government enables young people to become productive. By providing a justice system that prevents, deters and prosecutes crime, government enables you and me to live in safety.

 

When a government fails in its duties, it needs a strong opposition to voice the discontent of the people. I have warned our Government that the climate for social uprising is being created through every broken promise and every failure in service delivery. We have seen social protest in many places across South Africa, and the threat exists that it will become increasingly violent. We must prevent that from happening.

 

The only way to do that is to give a voice to the people who feel disenfranchised. Although they have the vote, many South Africans feel they don't have the ear of their leaders. They are not being heard. 

 

The time has come to change that. The time has come for the poor, the downtrodden, the unemployed and the hurting to link hands with a champion who shares their fight. In this, there is no better champion than the IFP.  The ructions that we have seen in Pietermaritzburg at the ANC's Moses Mabhida Region, have demonstrated for all to see how members of the ANC have at last shown how tired they are of a leadership that won't listen to their own followers.  If they can't listen to their own members to the extent that offices of the ANC are burned down, how can we expect them to listen to opposition parties such as the IFP?

 

We have been in the fight for 36 years. We have carried the aspirations of the poorest of our people, through apartheid and through seventeen years of democracy, in which many have seen very little improvement in the everyday struggles they face. We have not faltered in giving South Africans a voice, because we have never stopped listening and we have never stopped saying what needs to be said. The IFP is not one for sweeping issues under the carpet. We believe in being honest.

 

I feel that all this needs to be said as we come together to celebrate Women's Day. This day is not just about remembering the heroines of our struggle. It is about looking ahead to the next cause that our women must lead. I believe that cause is the protection of democracy. For this reason, I would like to see the IFP Women's Brigade mobilizing South Africa's women around the vision of the IFP of a true democracy. The democracy we have is not unshakable. It is not unchallenged or impervious. There are many threats to democracy, not least from within the ruling Party.

 

The call to protect South Africa's democracy through a strong opposition must be answered by people who love our country and know how to work hard. It must be answered by our women. The women of the IFP are patriots. I have witnessed your sacrifices and dedication. I have seen how you work day in and day out to feed your families, and the families of others. I have seen you raise children, and raise churches. I have seen you building, teaching, ploughing, sharing and leading.

 

I want to appeal today to the IFP Women's Brigade to again look back at how much we achieved through self-help and self-reliance during the apartheid era. We survived the deprivations of the apartheid regime through our own efforts. We had projects which addressed food security. I have seen these efforts diminish since our democratic era dawned. I ask why? The cost of living is rising by day and we know how we survived the deprivations of the past era. Those efforts can only uplift us from the dire straits in which our people now find themselves.

 

There is nothing our women cannot do. Our Constitution tells us that women are equal in dignity and equally entitled to the protection of their rights. But experience tells us that women are so much more. They are leaders and innovators, who give us the example of integrity, commitment and perseverance. I am proud of the women of the IFP.

 

I am proud of the heroines who have led the Women's Brigade; Mrs Ella Nxasane, Ms Abbie Mchunu, Mrs Thandi Bhengu, Mrs Faith Xolile Gasa, Mrs Eileen KaNkosi Shandu, Mrs Lungile Zwane, Mrs Thembi Nzuza and now the very competent Mrs kaMadlopha-Mthethwa.. These women were chosen to represent our movement because they understood the challenge of their times. Yes, I have included even those who disappointed us because they were chosen democratically to carry the torch of the Women's Brigade. Our Women's Brigade called on them to lead the cause of liberation, enfranchisement, equality and development. Under their leadership, the IFP Women's Brigade did us proud.  I am not ignoring those who failed us.

 

The challenge of our present time is that of opposition politics, to ensure that the gains won by those who came before us will be enjoyed by those who come after. We are in a unique time of history. Next year the ANC will celebrate the centenary of its founding and the idea that the ANC is the sole liberator of South Africa will be reinforced in the national psyche through endless events and commemorations. Will we allow history to be rewritten and the IFP to be written out? Will we accept the watershed of 2012 that suggests everything that happened before was thanks only to the ANC, and everything that happens after should not be questioned?

 

I think not. There is a strength in the IFP that should not be underestimated; it is the strength of its support by South Africans who love South Africa. The majority of our supporters are women. That has always been the case. Our most politically active members are women and so too is our greatest force of mobilization. Our women remember how hard the IFP fought for democracy, how hard we fought for provinces, how much we sacrificed to build schools and houses, how much we gave to educate our children. They will not accept the rewriting of history.

 

Those of you who are too young to remember the pain inflicted by apartheid will no doubt have heard about it from your mothers and grandmothers and aunts. Don't think this has nothing to do with you because you were born into a post-liberation South Africa. Our country's freedom has everything to do with you. Indeed the challenge to protect freedom belongs to your generation, so it is worth knowing the value of what you are fighting for.

 

Freedom is the fruit of democracy. In the absence of true democracy, our freedom is curtailed to voting every five years and hoping for change. True democracy, the democracy for which the IFP fights, will bring us the freedom to demand change, and get it. Securing that kind of democracy depends on a strong opposition. It depends on the IFP.

 

As the IFP takes up this challenge that the people have given us, I urge the IFP Women's Brigade to stand at the forefront. Watch the performance of the councillors in your community. Watch what they promise and what they deliver. Hold them accountable for the sake of our people. Be the voice of integrity, the voice of truth. On this Women's Day the challenge goes out to a new generation of heroines. 

 

May you make us proud again.

 

I thank you.