IFP BRANCH INAUGURATION


ADDRESS BY
MANGOSUTHU BUTHELEZI, MP
PRESIDENT OF THE INKATHA FREEDOM PARTY AND
MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIRS

Lenasia: June 10, 2000

I am delighted that the IFP is growing. The opening of this new branch of the Inkatha Freedom Party in Lenasia gives a clear indication of the increasing support for my Party amongst this community. It gives me great pleasure to announce that this is by no means an isolated incident. Across the length and breadth of South Africa, the IFP is growing. We are gaining support in many communities, for the very same reason that today I inaugurate the Lenasia branch. Throughout our country it is becoming more and more clear that the IFP is the best alternative to pursue the future we wish for ourselves and our posterity. Indeed, the time of the IFP is really just dawning, ‘though we come from a long path of experience and trusted leadership, and proudly carry a proven track record of good governance.

The good governance of the IFP has been seen consistently followed throughout our 25 year history. In recent years, we have brought a contribution of courage and sound policy to the government of our country. I believe that South Africa must rely on this contribution as a necessary engine of progress towards a future of social stability and economic prosperity. Our President recognised the need for the IFP’s contribution when he invited me and my Party to cooperate with his Party in government, following the elections of 1999. This was not a politically necessary coalition such as we entered into in KwaZulu Natal, where there is a coalition government. Yet it was a indeed necessary one considering the vital role the IFP has to play in bringing South Africa forward along the path of genuine liberation.

As recognition for the IFP’s necessary contribution grows, my Party is expanding both its support base and its influence. Like any political party, the IFP needs the support of the people in order to gain the power to make a difference. The difference between my Party and many others, however, is that we fought the struggle for liberation within the borders of our country. The IFP has walked hand in hand with South Africans of all nationalities, languages, beliefs, traditions and ways of life. I, myself, have never stopped listening to grassroots people, individuals who are engaged in the daily struggle for opportunity and prosperity within our difficult situation. I have never left these communities to lead my people from a distance, but have remained in the thick of the battle against the social and economic challenges facing us all. When our liberation movements were forced to operate from exile, we found ourselves without any other option than to fight apartheid and oppression right in the frontline through non-violent means.

Because we ere forbidden by law to operate across racial barriers because of the Improper Interference Act, I launched the South African Black Alliance with the late Yellan Chinsamy and his Party, and with the then Labour Party. We were joined by Inyandza Party of Kangwane and by the Dikwakwentla Party from the Free State under Dr Mopeli. We realised that the apartheid was against all people of colour regardless of race and ethnicity.

As a matter of fact, Inkatha was from its inception not confined to a Zulu membership but to Africans of all ethnic groups. This resulted in my being called to Pretoria by Mr Jimmy Kruger, the Minister of Police, when our organisation was only a year old. He told me to confine membership of Inkatha to Zulus only. I told him that as long as they

recruit whites of all ethnicities into the National Party, I had the same right to recruit all Africans, regardless of ethnicity, into our organisation. He tried to defend their recruiting whites of all ethnic groups into the National Party by saying that all the whites of Teutonic origin. I asked him whether that included the Jews, to which he had no answer. So I defied him and refused to confine membership to only Zulu speaking Africans.

Since its inception 25 years ago, the IFP has been home to a diverse group of South Africans sharing the common denominators of morality, goodwill and sound judgement. I have always welcomed such people into the IFP because I know that many of us share the desire to see South Africa succeed and all her children freed from the degradation of poverty, ignorance for lack of education and exposure, a lack of experience and opportunity, poor service delivery, unemployment, fear and constant struggle. The desire to see our country freed from such ills is not the exclusive domain of one race or one ethnic group. It is the resounding call of every South Africa who demands a better present than we had in our past, and a better tomorrow to follow today.

I believe that this unity of purpose has characterised the long dialogue between the Inkatha Freedom Party and the Indian community of South Africa. It has been my privilege to engage in close friendships with leaders, businesspeople, families and ordinary citizens from the Indian community. In 1950, when I was rusticated from the University of Fort Hare for my political involvement in the activities of the ANC Youth League, I feared that a great opportunity had slipped by. Yet I was soon to recognise that my political career was developing itself along lines far more significant than I could imagine. I was then accepted to the so-called non-European section of University of Natal in Durban by Dr Mabel Palmer, the founder of that section. It was there that I attended lectures with Fatima Meer under Professor Kenneth Kirkwood, and I soon met Ismail Meer, Debhi Singh and other respected Indian leaders such as Dr Monty Naiker and JN Singh in Durban. This was the time when I met Dr Yusuf Dadoo.

My friendship with Professor Fatima and the late Ismail Meer quickly developed into an intimate dialogue with many among the Indian community. Theirs was the first Indian wedding I ever attended and I know that this was my early introduction into the vibrant life of the Indian people. Throughout the years, I have maintained this dialogue and have reaped a reward of camaraderie, sound advice and appreciated support. I believe that the IFP has become a natural home for the Indian community of South Africa simply because we share many of the same basic principles, aspirations and concerns for our country’s future. This has certainly been evident in my experience throughout these years.

I have always been struck by the capacity of Indian people to work hard and sacrifice much for the sake of their families. This is a proud people, and rightly so. I have recognised your commitment to your children’s future with the eye of a leader, as well as that of a father. I have known Indian families to struggle for years in dedication, spending long hours at work and driving themselves ever harder for the sake of giving their children every opportunity of a fulfilled existence. This is not an easy time for young people in which to grow up. My own generation felt that the historical situation in which we matured was perhaps the worst a young person might endure. We struggled against racial oppression and human indignity. Yet, today, our children’s struggle is indeed greater.

I do not say these things light heartedly. I know that we have not yet achieved the country we dreamed of when we fought for liberation. Each segment of our society experienced a different side of the liberation struggle. While many of us shared the same side of the battle as an oppressed majority, tensions arose between us which have not failed to influence our relations even today. Yet, I have never seen any South African, regardless of historical background, lineage or race, as an enemy of our country to be defeated, exiled or destroyed. I have always known that our future would need to be built on the joint effort of every building block of our society and we would need to rely on one another for our individual complimentary strengths. It is for this reason that I have remained committed to reconciliation between South Africa’s communities.

Prosperity relies on peace, and peace on reconciliation. I am proud that the history of the IFP provides a clear picture of good working relations and coordinated efforts between my Party and the Indian community. We have set the stage to work together seeking reconciliation and healing between all our people. It is only through the vehicle of the IFP that the voices of individual South Africans are heard at the highest levels of our country’s government. My Party has been the vehicle of self-expression amongst the Indian community for decades. I am pleased that we are growing and maturing in this relationship of trust. It has been my constant purpose to maintain the IFP as the party which can be trusted. In pursuing this goal, I have often had to assume a stand of principle when all around me leaders took a seat in the theatre of the popular voice.

Whenever I came up against a compromise of honesty in the political arena, I stood for the truth. Even when I stood alone. My stand has not merely been a show of righteousness, but a determined effort to secure genuine liberation for all our people. When I rejected the armed struggle, I did so based on a long-term vision of what South Africa would need after liberation. I knew we would require a generation of builders and not a of legion of young thugs. When I called for education as a priority for our liberation, I did so based on the same long-term vision. I knew that South Africa would need an army of skilled workers, ready for employment and able to grow our economy. When I rejected the call for international sanctions and foreign disinvestment, I was led by this very vision. In the long-term, I knew, we would need a strong economy to right the inequalities and lack of opportunity we still face to this day.

If all South Africa had operated on this long-term vision, I daresay we would never have faced the enormous challenges we face today. Had the IFP been heard and heeded, we may have been further along the road toward economic growth and social justice. Our political liberation came six years ago. Yet our people are not yet free. It is time for every citizen to recognise that our liberation came not because a bloody fight was fought, and not because our people were divided in that fight, and not because ordinary men, women and children cowered in perpetual fear for their lives and loved ones. Liberation came by the very road I said it would: negotiations, negotiations, negotiations.

While we now struggle to overcome the legacy of a poor liberation strategy employed by many components of the liberation movement, we cannot overlook the fact that there will be a tomorrow for which we must plan. Just as history now reveals, the measures we take in the present to meet our challenges must be based on what we will need once these challenges have been overcome. Once again, we need the long-term vision of the IFP to guide our present actions and strategies. Yet, this time, the IFP must be heeded. We cannot afford to ignore experienced leadership or consider it capable of being subsumed in the loud bellowing of the majority. The IFP is growing stronger, and just as well. Whoever wishes to adopt the course toward a properly thought out future, must support this growth for all they are worth.

The coming local government elections in November this year will be a test among all South Africans of what they want for the future. The outcome of these elections will be decisive for our country’s direction and is a last chance for communities to announce their individuality. There is a real threat within our system of local government transformation that communities will become led by the nose, with little respect for established ways of life and community organisation. My Party has fought for many years for the protection of the institution of traditional leadership simply because we respect the differences between South Africa’s diverse peoples, and believe that we cannot transform any community out of existence for the sake of transformation. The local government elections will be a last chance stand for this fight and only the IFP is willing to take such a stand to ensure our communities receive greater respect and increased power to govern their own circumstances. The IFP must be strengthened in this fight for the sake of all South Africa’s communities. The coming elections must bring an IFP victory, to be a victory of the people.

I have not refrained from speaking into situations where our country is going wrong. Indeed, I have increased my verbosity on matters affecting the growth of South Africa and the prosperity of her people. The IFP continues its courageous contribution of sound policies and steady principles in the government of our country. We will not shy away from telling it as it is, and calling for the necessary work on our institutional and constitutional system to improve the situation of our people. My Party agrees with the members of the Indian community who work hard day after day, year after year, all their lives to see the possibility of something better for their children. It is to this same end that we continue to work with dedication and perseverence, to see a better situation for the coming generation of South Africans.

It is for this reason that I continue my call for a revolution of goodwill. As the natural political home of the people of goodwill, the Inkatha Freedom Party is the natural engine of our revolution. I know that the goals we have worked towards, side by side and hand in hand, for the past 25 years, remain the same today. The IFP continues to share the fight of the Indian community, just as we do for every other South Africa community, and we are asking that you increasingly make this Party the vehicle to carry our fight further and higher. The spirit of goodwill can surely conquer the culture of indolence, despair, entitlement, violence, criminality and racial bias which continues to characterise many segments of our society. We can forge ahead and overcome these obstacles, yet we need to do so in the strength of unity which grows when we stand together under a trusted leadership.

If we wish to fulfil our lifelong task of creating something better for the next generation, we must ensure the increase and prevalence of a culture of productivity, commitment to our work, communities and families, respect for authority, law and order, reconciliation, and a due respect for human dignity, property and life. Such a culture can only take root where the people of goodwill are operating. I believe that wherever this happens, there you will find the IFP. Wherever communities are developing in prosperity, there will be the IFP. Wherever individuals are seizing opportunities and being uplifted, there will be the IFP. Wherever good governance is a reality rather than an idle promise, there will be the IFP.

For these very reasons, I am pleased that the IFP has opened another branch among the community of Lenasia. The occasion of its inauguration gives clear evidence of two things, both of which give us reason for pride and encouragement. The opening of this branch shows that the IFP is steadily growing. For this community and for every community of South Africa, that is a heartening sign. It may also be seen by today’s event that this community is developing towards an improved situation of prosperity, social solidarity, stability and strength. I say this because I know that, together, Lenasia and the IFP can redouble our individual yet common fight for genuine liberation and hope. Let us join together with this shared goal, to prosper South Africa and bring a better tomorrow.

With these few words, I wish the community of Lenasia every success. Here, where the people are fighters, here is the IFP. Here, where the people are victors, here too is the IFP.

 

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