The Master of Ceremonies, Mr MA Mncwango and Mrs MM Mdlalose; amaKhosi present and members of the Royal family; the Honourable National Chairman of the IFP and Premier of KwaZulu Natal, Mr LPHM Mtshali; the Honourable Reverend CJ Mtetwa, Minister of Public Works and member of the National Council, and all other members of the National Council present here today; the Deputy Mayor of Newcastle and Chairperson of the Regional Council; Councillors and Indunas; the Regional Chairman of the IFP and other office bearers of the IFP from various branches; distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.

The National Chairman and I, and other leaders of the IFP who have accompanied us, decided to visit this area of Newcastle. We were very encouraged to learn that our visit coincides with the inauguration of new branches in this Region. We are delighted to be here on such an auspicious occasion to welcome those who have just joined our Party and those who have just renewed our comradeship through renewing their membership.

I always feel that I must remind our members that when we founded this organisation more than 25 years ago, I stated then that it was going to be an organisation resting on two philosophical pillars of self-help and self-reliance. Were we not a Party which believed in self-help and self-reliance, we could not have travelled with such successes on two occasions during the elections of 1994 and 1999. This has enabled us as a Party to garner more votes in the two elections in spite of our Party being a Party of poor people, and in spite of having been at the receiving end of so much vilification through the media and the so-called pollsters who predicted our demise as a Party on both occasions. And in spite of their predictions, the majority of the voters in the Province have twice shown that they are with us, and have ignored the negative propaganda that has been carried out about our Party, by both the print media and the electronic media. One of the reasons why we have been so durable in spite of all these onslaughts has been the fact that I as the leader of this Party and my fellow leaders, have never insulted the intelligence of voters by giving them false promises which we knew we could not fulfil. So I felt that I needed to come to the Umzinyathi Region, and to Newcastle in particular, to thank the voters of this Region for having supported me notwithstanding the onslaughts of our political adversaries.

There is confusion amongst many people that because in this Province we have a coalition government between the ANC and the IFP, that the IFP has ceased to have its own identity and its own policies. Also, when we again agreed to serve in the national Government at the invitation of President Mbeki, some people thought that this meant that we will be submerged in the ANC as the majority Party in the national Parliament. The last six years have proven to you that the IFP has its own policies, that we exist as a different Party, and that for this reason, we see no prospect for this much vaunted prediction that there will be a merger between the two parties. By now our members, as well as those who intend to join us, should be convinced in the light of so much evidence, that we intend remaining as Inkatha Freedom Party and not part of any other Party.

It is well known how much blood-letting took place between members of the ANC and the IFP in the past 15 years from the time of the emergence of the UDF and COSATU. Tens of thousands of our people, black people, lost their lives in that futile war of attrition. In October 1999, President Mbeki and I were invited to unveil the monument erected to the hundreds of our people who died in Thokoza in that war between members of our two organisations. President Mbeki and I went to Thokoza to assure members of our two parties that never again will we ever allow the kind of slaughter of African people, such as we witnessed in the black-on-black war of the 80s and 90's. Each Party will pursue its own policies and we will try and work together in Parliament for the delivery of services to the poor people, but where we have differences, we shall disagree without being disagreeable.

Both the National Chairman and I therefore felt that apart from thanking the voters of this Region for past support, we needed to come here to ask for preparations for the local government elections that are less than 100 days away. In the local government elections of 1996 we as a Party, which is supported by more people of this Region, did very badly because of unpreparedness. This amounts to us losing the battle by default. We have come to appeal to voters of this Region to avoid a repeat of what happened during the previous local government elections. We appeal to our members to gird their loins in order to be better prepared for performance in the forthcoming elections than was the case during the last local government elections.

As I have already stated, it is a great pleasure for me to be with the people of this region on this occasion on which we mark the growth of the IFP. The inauguration of new branches in this region reflects an encouraging trend of growth for the IFP which we have registered across the length and breadth of the country. The IFP is growing because the people are growing to realise that South Africa needs the IFP to grow and prosper. The growth of South Africa is predicated on the growth of the IFP. The opening of new IFP branches signals that hope still exists for the success of South Africa. It gives us a new hope against the unimpressive performance of the Party in 1996 in local government elections.

On this occasion we must find inspiration to move the IFP further ahead on its path of growth. There is still a long road ahead before South Africa may approach the land of economic prosperity and social stability. It is the task of the IFP to lead all the people of goodwill to walk on that road and to hasten the pace. We have not forgot that the goal of final liberation has not yet been achieved. We have not forgotten that the task for which we were born has not yet been accomplished. We have not yet forgotten that the journey is still difficult and uncertain and requires the same stamina it took when we first began it. I have always been very frank in speaking to our members. I warned several times before 1994 that when our political emancipation which took place in 1994 happens, only then will we begin our even harder struggle against poverty in which we as a people are still trapped.

Since its inception twenty-five years ago, Inkatha has always known that the final destination of our journey was the reconstruction and development of a new South Africa in which unemployment, poverty, ignorance and crime are but ugly memories of a distant past. We were born to pursue the dream that one day all South Africans will eventually be free from the oppressive yoke of abject social and economic conditions. We have struggled for so many years to see the day in which all South Africans will have the opportunity to a dignified life, free from need, fear and uncertainty. We know that for as long as vast segments of our population are enslaved by poverty, ignorance for lack of education, unemployment and lack of essential services, no one in South Africa can indeed claim to be free.

This is not yet the South Africa for which I have struggled for almost half a century of commitment and sacrifice in politics. To us, liberation did not dawn merely because on the 27th of April 1994, when all South Africans for the first time together queued up to cast their vote in our first democratic elections. We stood in line, we voted and we went back home waiting for things to change and for life to improve. For us that was an important moment, but by no means was it the end of our journey. We never felt that on that day we had arrived. Some of our colleagues felt that they had arrived and that liberation had finally dawned upon South Africa merely because they assumed high-ranking positions as the elected political representatives of our people. They had arrived, but South Africa and its people have not yet arrived at our destination.

We have achieved a lot in the past six years but a lot remains to be achieved. Much more could have been achieved had the IFP been stronger and had our messages and policies been heard. The struggle ahead continues to remain our responsibility because we have never accepted that the struggle was finished. We maintain that the struggle continues because our goal has always been the full development of South Africa. We are committed to one strategy and one strategy only, which is development, development and more development. This is the only strategy which can bring together all South Africans of goodwill, working against the common enemies of under-development and sluggish economic growth.

It seems that after the initial impetus following our first democratic election in 1994, there is now a stagnation of initiative. There is this pervasive position that we have arrived and we can now relax. South Africa needs the IFP's leadership to move forward. The situation has become dramatic because we have not moved far enough in the past six years in the direction chartered by the IFP. We have lost hundreds of thousands of jobs and our economy has not grown sufficiently to move our struggle against poverty and unemployment forward. Crime is affecting everybody and has become a way of life for too many. Arrogance, violence, intimidation and lack of respect are ravaging our communities throughout the country under the pressure of poverty and unemployment. Only the growth of our economy can redress the present social injustices and bring salaries, houses, jobs and essential services to all those who so desperately need them and so rightly deserve them. Government cannot create job opportunities, produce salaries or make services available to all those who need them, unless our economy grows and employs them within the productive cycle.

There are fundamental laws of economics which the IFP has been preaching since the beginning of our process of transformation from apartheid to democracy. We wanted these laws to be embodied in the fundamental framework which shaped our new South Africa so that they could not be ignored. In spite of our warnings these laws have often been ignored. We requested that our Constitution make provision for the mandatory privatisation of our huge parastatals comprising large segments of our economy, which are owned, controlled and directed by government. By virtue of its own existence, our parastatals reduce economic efficiency and slow economic growth. For the past six years we have urged their accelerated privatisation and suggested that privatisation should not be the product of a political process, but a consequence of the rigid application of economic laws. We went so far as to propose a constitutional provision mandating privatisation and deregulation and the establishment of an independent privatisation commission to carry out this task.

The majority Party in the national Parliament has produced GEAR (Growth, Employment and Redistribution) as their macro-economic strategy for South Africa. We as the IFP support this policy. But things move very slowly because of the rejection of this policy by the election partners of the ANC, which are COSATU and the South African Communist Party. This all underscores the importance of the IFP's presence in the national Parliament, in the Province and in municipal government.

Instead of heeding our warnings, the process of privatisation has been almost non-existent and has never been accompanied by the intention of returning State-held assets to the market place in a fully competitive and deregulated economic environment. We are now witnessing the unveiling of a new policy which effectively extends the notion of co-operative governance to economic sectors controlled by government and to parastatals, thereby imposing on public enterprises the responsibility of fulfilling the social and developmental objectives of our government within their respective functions. Large business conglomerates have been tasked with the responsibility of operating as agents of development and developing their own policies to bring about results that government itself has failed to deliver. This is a most noble idea and a wonderful principle which, however, has the fundamental flaw of not working because it violates the laws of economics.

The laws of economics might not be gentle, noble or pleasant, but like the laws of physics, just happen to be what they are and whoever ignores them so does so at their own peril. Too often our government has taken the short cut of adopting policies which sound good, feel good, look good and sell well with the electorate, but have the flaw of not taking the country forward in its hard and uphill and difficult struggle towards genuine liberation. The cost of these additional social burdens on our public enterprises will either be passed on to end consumers, thereby increasing the marginal rate of real taxation of the lower segments of our population, or they will decrease economic efficiency and productivity, thereby slowing down economic growth and employment generation. There are some fundamental choices on which the strength, courage and vision of a government are tested. Government is always faced with the choice between short cuts and sustainable long-term goals, and a strong government would prefer the latter over the former, while a weak one will succumb to the temptation of populist measures. Simply put, it is politically rewarding to give people houses, while the right thing to do to promote their long-term welfare, is to create job opportunities, even if one needs to subsidize industries with the same funding otherwise destined for housing projects, so that people can build their own houses with their own salaries.

The IFP is the leader in the struggle for development because we know the conditions under which genuine sustainable development can take place and prosper within South Africa. We do not believe that development takes place merely by raising the flag of development over every government building or ahead of every government effort and pronouncement. We may speak about development until there is no more breath in our lungs for us to utter one more word, and yet no matter how much we talk, development will not stem out of our discussions. It takes courageous, determined and often unpopular leadership to do what is right.

When the government began passing the labour legislation which conferred great powers to a new class of trade union barons and put a straight-jacket on our further economic growth, the IFP raised its voice to criticise the Government. I, myself, opposed the Labour Relations Act when it came through Cabinet and have raised serious concerns about many other pieces of labour legislation piloted by the Government of National Unity after 1994. This legislation was noble in its intention and inspired by beautiful principles. It felt good, it sounded good, it looked good and it sold well with the electorate. It just could not work for our economy and it was not in the interests of the country.

It took five years for the government to recognise that the IFP was right and we are now beginning to set in place some timid corrective measures which are not going far enough to provide our economy with what it needs. Our labour market remains very rigid and the power of trade unions threatens both domestic and foreign investments. Once again, the Government seems concerned about avoiding taking any action which does not feel good, does not sound good, does not look good and, in the end, might not sell well with the electorate. It took five years to begin moving in the directions which the IFP pointed out ten years ago, but after a few steps in that direction, the government froze in fear of being unpopular and having to break a few eggs to make the omelette necessary to feed our development.

In the meantime, hundreds of thousands of jobs have been lost and our economic growth has declined. We need to have a stronger IFP to ensure that we can pull the government in the right direction. The presence of the IFP in government in the past six years has been very beneficial because we have pulled the government in the right direction and towards development. A stronger IFP will be able to pull with greater energy. The stronger the IFP, the better the government of South Africa will be.

The stronger the IFP, the further we will all move ahead on the path towards genuine liberation. For this reason, it is vital for the future of South Africa that the IFP registers a resounding victory in the next local government elections. The next local government elections are going to be fundamental to the future of South Africa for many reasons. On the political level, they will mark the direction of political developments until the next general elections in 2004. If, in the next four years, people wish to have more of the same as in the past six years, they may very well leave things the way they are. However, if people wish to have something better in the next four years, they must seize the opportunity of the next local government elections to send out a powerful message. The only powerful message which can be heard by the government, is that of strengthening the IFP. It is essential that all IFP members and sympathisers reach out for new constituencies and convince those who would be inclined to vote for other parties, of the necessity of strengthening the IFP if we wish to place the country on a firm course towards development.

Voting for the opposition can only maintain the present situation and produce more of the same for the next four years, because the opposition, no matter how loudly it shouts, does not have the power to create government policies. Voting for the majority party will also produce four more years of the same because a vote for the majority party can only be to keep things the way they are. We must move the struggle for liberation forward along the path of development. We have not arrived at our destination yet. With their vote, people should not express the message that they are happy with the way things are and with those who feel that the struggle is over. Only a vote for the IFP can signal that our government must do more and must do better to promote development. Now, more than ever, the IFP stands for development, development and development. We have always conceived and practised development from the bottom up. We have always worked with communities at grassroots level and have never left our communities to become distant, aloof or too busy on other things. We are the party of the grassroots and we have always advocated the culture of self-help and self-reliance and the notion that development begins within our communities.

For this reason it is essential that the new local government to be established by the next elections be empowered with the type of leadership which only the IFP can provide. A new system of local government will begin with the next elections. The next elections are going to be foundational. A new chapter is now beginning and, depending on how the first pages of this new chapter are going to be written by the electorate, we shall know whether the mistakes of the past are going to be repeated, or if this time around, South Africa will be given a fresh opportunity of finally getting it right.

The IFP is the party which has always promoted federalism and maximum devolution of powers. We were alone throughout the negotiation process in defending the autonomy of local government and demanding that it be constitutionally protected from the interference and encroachment of the central government. We are the party which challenged before the Constitutional Court, the constitutional text adopted by the Constitutional Assembly in May 1996 because it was too restrictive of the autonomy and options of local government. The IFP is the party which forced the Constitutional Assembly to rewrite the chapter on local government after we succeeded in the Constitutional Court.

For this reason, the IFP is the most qualified to bring into local government the philosophy of governance which promotes development. A top down local government will be incapable of promoting development. We are the party which can ensure that the new local government begins its new existence within the correct paradigm. We rejected the paradigm which would wish to seize local government within the conveyor belt of a system of power which emanates from the centre and the highest level of a pyramidal political structure. We do not believe that one should be at the top and all those on the bottom should just be waiting to receive orders and do as they are told as a bunch of dimwits with no contribution to make. The future of South Africa will depend on the capacity of local government to think with its own head, operate through its own arms, walk on its own legs and stand on its own feet. Only the IFP has always practised the philosophy which can empower local government to be its own person rather than a puppet which moves, depending on how its strings are pulled from higher up.

Local government is now beginning its long journey in history and we must ensure that in the next elections we get it right. Many generations will pay for our mistakes if we do not impress on the new local government the philosophy, inspiration and long-term vision of the IFP. Therefore, it is essential that all the members and sympathisers of the IFP reach out and go into new communities and new constituencies, especially amongst those who are not IFP sympathisers, to impress upon them that these local government elections are indeed very important. People of goodwill cannot sit on the sidelines. It is important that they vote and that they motivate everyone else to vote. The message must go out from person to person that these elections are part of a revolution of goodwill in the making which is meant to move our struggle for liberation forward and towards development.

There must be a will to make these elections a watershed event in the unfolding of South African history. For this reason all party structures must mobilize themselves to renew their efforts to register voters. Especially in this area too many people did not vote during the last elections because they did not have the opportunity or the personal motivation to register. There are also people who have not yet understood that unless they register they cannot vote. Worse than this are people, who include young people who will be 18 years old in November, who do not even have the bar-coded IDs.

IFP structures must create within the people the opportunity and the personal motivation to register so that they can vote. There are many people who still do not have the required bar-coded green ID book, without which they cannot register. The Home Affairs figures of those applying for ID books has not increased which means that there is no widespread urge to prepare for elections. We must correct this by ensuring that everybody has ID books and has registered. And when I say everybody, I indeed mean everybody, because it is essential that IFP activists go beyond IFP circles to reach out for new constituencies.

It is also essential that the IFP strengthens its organisational and logistical capacity. Elections are not won or lost merely on the grounds of who has got the best policies or whose contribution is more important or valuable for the future of the country. It is a hard, unpleasant but true fact of reality, that elections are won or lost depending upon who has the best logistical and organisational machinery at their disposal. The IFP does not have large funding available to set up a sophisticated electoral machinery but we have something else that no-one else has, or can claim a right to. We have a destiny to fulfil and the goodwill and motivation of our people to become part of that destiny. No amount of money, no amount of logistics, no number of spin doctors can substitute or outweigh the power of the people of goodwill. We need to bring our people together to prepare for elections. Today, we need to make sure that on the day of elections there are enough people available to transport to the voting stations all those who need to vote. Today, we need to begin training party agents to represent the IFP in the electoral process within voting stations. A few months ago we obtained incontrovertible truths that massive electoral frauds took place in KwaZulu Natal in the last elections.

The IFP was defrauded of hundreds of thousands of votes which could have, and should have, shifted the balance of power in this province. We are partially to be blamed for having allowed this to happen because our election room did not perform as is required of a party contesting elections. Our electoral agents did not report the results immediately to our election room which, in turn, failed to tally them up and verify them with those announced by the Independent Electoral Commission, so that an objection to the election results announced by the IEC could be lodged on time. We need to prevent this from happening again. Never again shall the will of the people of this region be twisted by sinister criminal forces operating like worms underground. We shall discover who defrauded the IFP in 1994 and those who have thus far curled in their hiding holes, will be exposed. They should know that this time around our party structures will be ready to detect them and they will meet with the strictest sanctions and punishments they deserve.

It is our responsibility to ensure that the IFP can win the next elections and fulfil its destiny. It is important that the IFP wins in this region with the largest possible margin. People should register and go to the voting stations not merely to ensure that the IFP crosses over the threshold of a 50% majority in this region, but also to ensure that our victory here is overwhelming. All votes will be aggregated on a national basis and this aggregate number will create a perception which, in turn, will determine a trend. We must show that the IFP is on a trend of growth. Each vote counts to show that on a national basis the IFP is growing. We must send out the message that by increasing our votes here, it can make the IFP grow nationally. Only if the IFP grows, can South Africa grow. On Women's Day I was in Ezakheni in Ladysmith and had the pleasure of receiving quite a large group of young people who have left the NC to join the IFP.

I urge people to vote and to vote for the IFP for the sake of South Africa and to bring our struggle for liberation forward. The IFP is the party of the future. The IFP carries the responsibility of leading the struggle ahead. The future belongs to us if in the next elections we all take up the responsibility of empowering the IFP to build a tomorrow which is going to be better than today. The struggle continues because the IFP can lead it. The future is ours. With the help of God and through the will of the people we shall succeed to make South Africa the success it must become to finally endow our children and their children’s children with a free and dignified life.


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