IFP Party Mobilisation
Address By Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP
President Of The Inkatha Freedom Party

 


 

KwaMdakane Stadium, Dannhauser, Amajuba District: 10 April 2010

 

I welcome this opportunity to meet, as we as a Party face the challenge of mobilizing for the 2011 Local Government Elections and preparing for our Annual General Conference being held next month. It is important for us to gather like this, to speak our minds and to reaffirm our vision for our Party's future.

 

In the past year since the general elections, I have felt frustrated by the premature resignation of some South Africans to an ever-declining IFP. I have experienced a sense of urgency about re-establishing a unified vision for our Party. I have been disappointed that our Vukuzithathe campaign has not been implemented within the timeframes we set. And I have been chagrined and angered by the sabotage of a renegade group who are dead set on seeing change; even change for the worse.

 

But in the midst of all these emotions, I now find something unexpected swelling in my heart. I find, in this darkest hour, that my hope is rising. This hope is buoyed on the wave of support I am seeing from countless IFP members and councillors, who are coming forward to express their determination to see the IFP succeed. The underhanded work of those who want to see us fail has had an unexpected result; it has served to awaken the giant that is the people of goodwill.

 

For too long the IFP's people of goodwill have been sitting back and allowing our Party to drift away from relevance in the eyes of the electorate. It is not that the IFP has become irrelevant; we are still a guiding light of integrity and wisdom in a sea of poor governance and poor leadership. The problem is that we have failed to carry the electorate with us as we pursued the service of the nation. We have not been loud enough, proud enough or enough of a headline grabber.

 

I know that in part this is because the IFP, unlike other political parties, is not willing to sling mud at our opponents just to get noticed. We have never engaged in character assassination for the sake of the vote. We don't harp on other's failures or stir up the people's anger towards our country's leaders. We are not a party of dirty tricks. Instead, we have been a party that keeps its eye on the goal of service delivery and the creation of a better quality of life for all our people. We work diligently, steadily and faithfully for South Africa.

 

That certainly does not make us headline material; not if one looks at the type of things that grab the headlines today. But it does make us the best hope for South Africa and a necessary ingredient in the recipe for our country's prosperity, political health, security and development. This Party has a unique contribution to make in South Africa, one that it cannot afford to do without. You and I know that, if not for the IFP, South Africa would not find itself free today. 

 

Regardless of the propaganda and popular rhetoric, the fact remains that the IFP played an essential role in the liberation of our country.

 

If not for my refusal to enter the armed struggle that cost our people some 20,000 lives in a low intensity civil war during apartheid, thousands upon thousands more would have died. If the IFP had entered the armed struggle, South Africa would have been reduced to ashes. My people are a strong people with a proud heritage. But we are not the kind of people to sacrifice lives for ideologies; not when the high moral ground will get us to our destination just as effectively.

 

If not for the IFP, the poverty that we see in our country today would have been far more widespread and insurmountable. Under my leadership, the IFP taught people the values of self-help and self-reliance, and equipped them to apply what they learnt to bring practical results. We built schools. We built houses. We built clinics. We started community development projects. And we established financial institutions to assist people who were poor in resources but rich in ideas to start their own businesses. We rejected sanctions and disinvestment in order to stop monopolies from springing up; the kind of monopolies, like Eskom, that the ruling Party now allows to feed off our people.

 

If not for Inkatha, thousands of South Africans would not have had a voice or a home when other liberation organizations were banned. If not for the IFP, the denialism of HIV/Aids that cost us so many lives would have seen mother-to-child transmission of the virus continue unhindered, when it can so easily be stopped. Were it not for my leadership in KwaZulu, women would have sought in vain for a champion that would allow them to inherit their land when their husbands died, rather than being instantly evicted based on archaic succession laws.

 

There are so many things the IFP has done for our country and for our people. It is no wonder that, despite the intense campaign of vilification waged by the ANC-in-exile against me, and in the face of apartheid's propaganda that tried to sideline me, the IFP became the second largest political party represented in our democracy in April 1994. The IFP has always been big. We have always been rock solid. And we have always been backed by the people of goodwill, who shared our vision for our country's future.

 

But I am devastated to stand here today and acknowledge that the IFP is facing the biggest challenge we have ever come up against. Nothing from outside our Party could stop us in the 35 years since we started.  But today, selfish ambition from within our ranks is shaking the very foundations of our Party. Christ warned that a house divided against itself cannot stand. The divisions that have entered the IFP on the backs of the so-called "Friends of VZ Magwaza Msibi" threaten all that we have worked for over 35 years.

 

Let me state unequivocally that this is not about a succession battle.  The media has called it that, and the "Friends of VZ" have happily played along. But this is not about who will lead the IFP into the future. It is about destroying the IFP's legacy to the point where we are so weakened that power can be snatched away by those who care nothing for this Party, but care a great deal about their own status.

 

I have nothing to gain at this point in my life from leadership positions. I have been ready to step down twice before. But I am damned if I will ever see the IFP destroyed by selfish ambition. I am embarrassed by the ructions in the Party which have been flaunted by the media before the electorate. I am not embarrassed for my own sake, but for the sake of the IFP. We have always told the electorate that we are the party of integrity, the party of delivery, the party of honesty. We have assured them that we are a party that makes good on its promises, a party free of corruption.

 

But now corrupt practices have entered the IFP, as the "Friends of VZ"  are comprised of people who have been given tenders and now feel the obligation to further the selfish aims of those who seek to destroy the Party. The insubordination of these people has caused chaos within our ranks, which has impacted on service delivery. And this is where it becomes totally unacceptable.

 

I feel that it would be remiss of me not to speak candidly about the damage that "the friends of VZ Magwaza-Msibi" have done to our body politic especially when I am speaking here in the district of Amajuba.  It is here that clandestine meetings have been held to brew the anarchy in the midst of which we now find ourselves.  The very first subversive document was drafted at a meeting which took place at NANDOS in Newcastle.  There are other meetings that have been held here which have resulted in this tragic division amongst councillors here.  There are councillors who take pride in the fact that they are part of "the friends of VZ Magwaza-Msibi". 

 

We as a Party have not  done very well in this district even when BY-ELECTIONS took place.  There are BY-ELECTIONS that we have lost by default merely because our councillors do not bother to work with our structures, the branches. Instead, they busy themselves poisoning the minds of our members through "the friends of VZ KaMagwaza-Msibi" which have damaged the Party almost beyond repair. 

 

Everywhere we need as a Party to double-up particularly after we performed so poorly during the general election on the 22nd of April 2009.  All other parties are engaged in repositioning themselves for this critical local government election next year.  I say it is critical because if we lost in the local government elections in the manner in which we were devastated here during the general election that will mean the end of our Party in the Amajuba district.  Local government to me is much more important than even the other higher tier levels of government for Councils are the level of government which deliver directly to the people on the ground.

 

It is not however, true that service delivery has not taken place only because Municipal Councils fail to do so.  We are very much aware that these Municipal Councils are a failure from the beginning because they depend in the main from grants from the state coffers.  They have no taxation base.  In the old democracies municipalities depended on rates and other taxes that they charged.  In our case, our municipalities serve the poorest of the poor where because the people's poverty is grinding gut-wrenching poverty and they cannot afford to pay for services.  That is why our Councils owe the state billions of Rand.

 

All this make it all the more necessary for our Municipal Councils not to fritter away the little funds that come via the state which are  meant to enable our municipalities to deliver services to our people.  The tragedy here is the big rift between the municipality and the very councillors who serve the municipality.  The tragedy here is that our councillors do not have amicable relationship with their Mayor.  So many efforts have been mounted in the hope that some rapprochement could be reached without any success.  If the councillors of Amajuba do still want us to survive as IFP here in the Amajuba District, I have come here to appeal to them to please for the sake of all of us to soften their stance and try and meet each other for the sake of the Party.  If this message of mine falls on deaf ears then our goose is cooked.  We might as well abandon any hope of the Party recovering in Amajuba and us taking back the municipalities that we have lost and regain the ground we lost during the general election last year.

 

I am deeply disappointed by this infighting among leaders that we see in this municipality. Councillors and Party leaders in this District have clashed repeatedly and if we do not sort ourselves out, we are likely to lose this municipality in the 2011 Local Government Elections. In fact, everything that has happened so far indicates that the quarrels amongst our leaders are our Achilles Heel.

 

That is what we should be focused on. We have fallen into a deadly trap when we give so much attention to the antics of the "Friends of VZ Magwaza-Msibi" instead of focusing all our energies and time on preparing for the Local Government Elections. In one year's time we are going to face the electorate and watch them judge our performance in the past five years of local government. A year is not a long time.  We are already a year away from the 2009 national elections, and what have we achieved?

 

We may have done an outstanding job compared to other parties. We may have worked harder and smarter than any of our political opponents. But when the voters see the IFP, will they see a Party with an unshakable legacy of good governance, service delivery, integrity and commitment, or will they see ructions and instability; a party that is hard to put your money on. Votes are the currency of the electorate. They will not give you their cash if you can't be trusted.

 

I find myself frustrated, because the IFP is a fine organization. We have excellent leaders. We have a solid foundation and a good Constitution. We have effective structures. We have skill and foresight. And we have many, many members and councillors who have the best interests of South Africa at the forefront of their minds. But that could all amount to nothing at the polling stations, because a few people with big mouths and low agendas are leading our people astray.

 

They are insulting our intelligence if they think we cannot see through their dirty tricks. Our intelligence is insulted when we receive an SMS urging us to support a leader whose "administrative abilities are beyond reasonable doubt". Those of you who have been with me in the past 35 years know first hand how much we achieved in the erstwhile KwaZulu Government. On a shoestring budget, less than any other province received, my administration delivered. We had plenty of reasons why it was difficult to deliver, but we never used any of them as an excuse not to do so.  For young people who may not know this, let them look around.  We built these townships and the decent houses which they see in townships like Madadeni.  We built thousands of schools in this district, including the Madadeni College of Education which the ANC government closed down.  I built shopping malls such as the one you see at Madadeni.  I invited entrepreneurs to start factories in this district.  There are too many things than I can mention in a speech like this one.

 

When apartheid fell and each of the provinces gave an account to national government for their resources, KwaZulu was the only province that was not in the red. In fact, we were the only one who could hand over any money from our coffers. And through all the years of governance, not a single allegation of corruption was ever laid against us. One journalist has remarked that while schools were burning across South Africa, ours were the only schools in which teachers and pupils arrived on time and actually engaged in education.

 

I shall not go into the details of my ten years in Cabinet as the Minister of Home Affairs or the fact that South Africa's entire body of policy and legislation on migration matters was transformed under my leadership. Likewise I need not detail the 22 occasions on which I acted as President of the Republic of South Africa. I say these things merely to point out that the IFP's leader is not a flash in the pan.  Those who want to take over the IFP by force are doing so at great cost to the IFP's legacy, name and support.

 

I regret that there are now very few who have travelled this long road with me. But I do know that all of you, without exception, have been attracted to the IFP because of the good reputation painstakingly forged over the past 35 years. As the Founder of this Party, I have given much to making it succeed.  I have sacrificed time with my family. I have sacrificed rest. And I have sacrificed following my own best interests.

 

Time and again, in the past half a century in public life, temptations have been put across my path to further my own name and career. But on every occasion I have chosen to do what is right for the Party. I have endured vilification and ridicule for choosing the Party's interests above my own. Yet I believe that the IFP has an important contribution to make to our country. I can never see the IFP as more important than South Africa, and I could never see myself as more important than the common good.  I do not have a farm or a house through taking advantage of my position then as Chief Minister of the erstwhile KwaZulu Government.  I have throughout my long public life regarded myself as a servant of the people of South Africa.

 

When the apartheid regime offered nominal independence to KwaZulu, which would automatically have bestowed enormous power onto me, I rejected it as a honey-trap. If I had accepted, millions of South Africans would have lost their citizenship and have had no inheritance once we achieved liberation. When former President FW de Klerk invited me to the negotiating table to engage bilateral discussions on the form of a democratic dispensation, he was offering me the opportunity to become the official liberator of our people. But I rejected the invitation, setting the condition that political prisoners must be freed and parties unbanned so that we could all come to the negotiating table together.

 

In 1999, President Thabo Mbeki offered me the Deputy Presidency of the country, provided that I gave the premiership of KwaZulu Natal to the African National Congress. I could not betray the voters who had elected the IFP to lead them, and thus rejected becoming South Africa's Deputy President for the sake of upholding democracy. Twice I have announced my intention to resign from leading this Party and twice I have been unanimously urged by Conference to continue to lead.  I do not do things for my own benefit.

 

It is well known that I have already set my sights on stepping down at our conference next month.  However, I now have a problem which has been created by the National Council, which on the 24th of October 2009 decided to ask me "to consider" continuing to serve as leader of  the Party in view of the anarchy that has been created in the Party.  

 

This just in order, they suggested, to ensure a smoother succession later.  This was endorsed by both the Women's Brigade National Council.  Also by SADESMO.  And by the Youth Brigade National Executive.  I have, however, found it difficult to make up my mind in view of the destructive activities of "the friends of VZ Magwaza-Msibi".  I have no reason to want to hang on to the leadership of the Party but I find myself in Queer Street when it comes to the obvious destruction of the Party.

 

Selfish ambition is foreign to our Party. But it is seeping into the ranks right now and we must set our hearts on arresting it before it taints the soul of the IFP. We will see the results of this cancer at the polling stations next year. The electorate will let us know whether we successfully stopped the nonsense, or allowed it to overwhelm us.

 

The indiscipline and defiance that we see amongst our councillors, and some of the youth outside of the structures of the Party, is something foreign to the IFP in the last 35 years.

 

Local government is close to the heart of the IFP. We believe in federalism; empowering governance from the ground up so that all South Africans will have a say in how they are governed, from matters relating to basic services right through to matters of national significance. While the IFP cares how national government is working to secure our national territory, we are more acutely attentive to how municipalities are providing sanitation, water, health care and other basic services within our communities.

 

For this reason, matters of local governance dominate the agenda in meetings of our National Executive Committee. Local governance is without a doubt the single biggest challenge facing our Party leadership in its everyday deliberations over what our councils are doing or not doing. Week after week, month after month, and indeed, year after year, we are confronted by an unceasing set of serious problems, whose intensity and severity is worsening all the time. We are working hard for the voters, and it is time to work hard for the votes.

 

You cannot expect voters to vote for the IFP merely because they did so in the past, or because they are expected to be loyal, or because they support me. Affirmation of this kind will not secure the services our people are entitled to, let alone those they expect. People demand change in their lives, and if we fail to deliver, then we should not be surprised when they vote for another party whom they hope beyond hope will do a better job. We are the right choice for the people. We are the right one's for the job. But we need to get our house in order, and go and get the votes.

 

As I said at the outset, all this chaos and upheaval being caused by those who seek our Party's downfall from within has somehow served a purpose and had an unexpected result. It is unifying the core of those who love the IFP. It has impassioned the people of goodwill with righteous indignation that all we have worked for so long can be threatened now because a few upstarts think that they should have more power.

 

These "Friends of VZ" may make the headlines. They may arrest attention with their unruly behaviour and with the lies they so willingly spread about our top leadership. But they cannot prevail against the tide of goodwill that quietly, steadily and unfailingly seeks the Party's survival.

 

Regardless of the ructions in our Party at present, I am still proud to be the President of this Party. I am proud of the heritage we have given South Africa. I am proud of the hard work we have put in for 35 years. I am proud to serve the people of goodwill, knowing that our shared vision for South Africa's future can be achieved if we keep going in the right direction; the direction set by an IFP that has been serving and struggling and working and winning since the day it was founded.

 

We are still a winning party. Let us make sure that the results of next year's Local Government Elections announce this truth to South Africa. Let's get the votes. Let's win the wards. Let's draw together and stand against those who seek the IFP's demise. Together, we have a greater future.