31st National Conference Of The IFP Youth Brigade
On The Theme "The IFP Youth - Champions Of Hope In The Fight For Democracy And Development"
Keynote Address By Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP


Mandleni-Matleng:  12 March 2011

 

The IFP has walked through the fire, and we are still standing. We are formidable survivors and we are still in the fight.

 

I thank our Secretary-General for leading us so appropriately in the opening devotions, for we have a lot to thank God for. We have been tested to the nth degree; partly by the human frailties of some of our members, who have lacked loyalty, and partly by the wounds inflicted by our political enemies. But our greatest suffering has been the collusion of some of our own people with our long-time enemies.

 

To be honest with you, it remains a mystery to me how the IFP has lasted this long. My History Professor at Fort Hare University once lectured on the causes of the downfall of the Roman Empire. After listing these, he said, "SO THE SURPRISING THING IS NOT THAT THE ROMAN EMPIRE FELL WHEN IT DID, BUT THAT IT LASTED AS LONG AS IT DID!"

 

Considering how we have been assailed from every side, it is remarkable that the IFP has survived for this long. The endless prophecies of doom have come to naught. We have never been ashamed to stress our utter dependence on God. It is therefore good to have a man of deep faith and intellect, like Reverend Zondi, lead us in devotions on this important day.

 

Let me say from the outset that I am proud to stand before the Youth of my Party, knowing that you - our young lions - have defended the IFP. Under extreme provocation, you have stood in the way of those who seek to destroy our Party. I marvel at your courage and perseverance, and I thank you. You have stood on the legacy of 35 years and kept hope alive. You have emerged as champions of democracy, development and a strong IFP.

 

A heady lie has been told that the fire we have gone through as a Party was ignited by IFP youth who sought transformation and abandoned decorum. In truth, the first tremors that announced the rupture to come were felt right after the 2009 national election, in which the IFP did not do as well as we had expected or hoped. Although we worked hard, we did not work hard enough and our votes declined. The ANC made further inroads into IFP strongholds and the media began writing our obituary, again.

 

Because of our decreased support, some of our candidates for the national Parliament and the KwaZulu Natal Legislature never won those seats. They were aggrieved and looked for a scapegoat, rather than looking at themselves. Suggestions were made that I should remove those already in office to give seats to those who hadn't made it. But there is no provision in law for me to remove and replace representatives in this manner. These people had lost out, and clearly they thought someone should pay.

 

Many of these people became dominant actors in the drama our Party has suffered. The last elective conference of the Youth Brigade aborted as a result of their activities. I regret that their discontent found a platform among some exuberant youth who panicked over the 2009 election results and began agitating for "transformation". The transformation agenda has never been spelled out, but it became the basis of many lies.

 

I repeatedly said that there was nothing wrong with youth demanding transformation, for I myself had been talking about renewal in the Party for quite a few years. The problem was that they were making these demands outside the structures of the Party. When we started punishing those who had infringed the provisions of our Constitution, journalists deliberately distorted the issue, reporting that people were being punished for demanding transformation.

 

I am galled that the lies continue, for just recently the Sowetan wrote that I have said "for the first time" that there was nothing wrong with the call for transformation. They know the truth, but deliberately ignore it.

 

Nevertheless, some of our disgruntled leaders used the youth's concern to further their own ambition, by turning it into a call for a massive change in leadership. What followed was an orchestrated and very public debacle, in which my name, my legacy and my Party were defamed at every opportunity. Our Constitution was trampled and our reputation besmirched.

 

It angers me that the IFP Youth Brigade was used in this campaign.  With the benefit of hindsight, it is obvious that our youth were pawns in the strategic attempt to remove me as the President of the IFP and open the way for Mrs Zanele kaMagwaza-Msibi to take control.

 

Some people blame us, saying we are too quick to trust people who join us from other political formations. We give them positions of great responsibility before they have proved themselves. Just this week we saw the defection of Mr Skhumbuzo Khanyeza, who was elevated to the position of Chairperson of the IFP Youth Brigade shortly after his defection from the ANC to the IFP. Mr Irvin Barnes, who has played such a prominent role in all these subversive activities, came to the IFP from AZAPO.

 

I am not saying we should not trust our comrades from other political formations. Not by any means. But when it comes to positions of leadership, we need to observe some cooling off period. Mr Irvin Barnes has tried to play a role even during the period leading to this Conference, despite the fact that he has not been our member for so long, and is a member of two other political parties, as far as I am aware.

 

We dealt with the group of malcontents in accordance with our Constitution, through disciplinary enquiries and expulsion. But a great deal of our time and energy was consumed with mediating in faction fights, sifting through the lies, challenging the propaganda, pre-empting violence and, eventually, burying the victims of this campaign of deceit.

 

Again and again we were forced to postpone the holding of our Annual General Conference, for the disruptive activities of these malcontents, who called themselves "The Friends of VZ", were causing chaos in our structures. Elective meetings that must precede Conference were disrupted by violence. Bogus branches were established. And the treachery spread like wildfire, because money was changing hands, promises were being made and people were being intimidated.

 

Matters reached such a serious pass that the National Commissioner of the South African Police Service, Mr Bheki Cele, came to warn me of intelligence reports that weapons were being channelled in and my life was in danger. He warned us that holding Conference in such an incendiary environment could only result in bloodshed, and the IFP was compelled to postpone its Conference again as we sought internal stability.

 

In October 2009, the National Council of the IFP passed a resolution requesting that I remain at the helm of the IFP until such time as we could ensure a smooth leadership transition. The Women's Brigade, the Youth Brigade and SADESMO confirmed this request. You will recall that twice I announced my intention to retire, at our Conferences of 2004 and 2006. But twice our Party has unanimously called on me to remain.  I have been grappling with this decision, for as much as I would wish to hand over the torch of this Party to a new generation of leaders, I have been hesitant to leave a burning house. The discovery that the fire was lit by our old opponents, the ANC, puts things in a whole new light.

 

It is now a record of history that our former National Chairperson, Mrs kaMagwaza-Msibi, deceived the IFP at every level. She protested her innocence before the National Council when the evidence forced us to question her relationship to the so-called "Friends of VZ", who were doing their utmost to destabilize the Party. She spoke before the media and at meetings, saying that the activities of "The Friends of VZ" were against the culture of the IFP and against her own values.  She openly recognized that they were splitting the IFP in two.

 

But she never lifted a finger to stop them. She repeatedly told us that she would not stand for nomination for the Presidency, and in fact asked National Council for their support in her intention to stand for National Chairperson, a position she already held. The agitation from her supporters for the IFP to hold its elective conference escalated exponentially and several of them took the IFP to court to try to reverse their expulsion and force us to hold our Conference.

 

Had they succeeded in pressurizing the IFP into holding Conference, Mrs kaMagwaza-Msibi's plot may never have been fully exposed. But the passage of time made her protestations of innocence increasingly flimsy and the evidence of her deceit began to mount. In the end, she was forced to expose her true intentions. On the 12th of November 2010, Mrs kaMagwaza-Msibi took the IFP to court, crying that we were persecuting her abominably, and our leadership was illegitimate, and we just had to hold Conference and - at last - that she would stand for the Presidency.

 

Her arguments held no water. We stated in court was that we, as her peers in the leadership, no longer trusted Mrs kaMagwaza-Msibi, for she had shown herself to be a liar and a leader devoid of integrity.  On the 17th of January 2011, the Honourable Justice Chima Patel of the Pietermaritzburg High Court dismissed kaMagwaza-Msibi's case, with costs. A blow had been dealt to her ambitions and a victory was given to the IFP.

 

The "Friends of VZ" were shaken and for a few days no one was quite sure what kaMagwaza-Msibi would do next. She had already indicated that she would not appear before the National Council to face the evidence of her treachery. Some questioned whether she would join the ANC. Many assumed she would start her own party. What we did not know was that the National Freedom Party had already been registered with the Independent Electoral Commission on the 29th of October 2010. So, when she took us to court, she had hedged her bets. If she could be President, she would take the IFP; if not, she would destroy us.

 

This is the heart of kaMagwaza-Msibi exposed. She did not care one iota for the good of the Party. Our legacy, our name and our very existence was disposable in her quest for power. She happily damaged the IFP while drawing a salary as an IFP Member of the Legislature.  That amounts to theft and moral bankruptcy.

 

With the launch of the NFP, a chapter closed for the IFP. I thank God that it happened the way it did. We suffered a great deal. We lost valuable ground. Many Councillors defected. A few had served our communities well. But many of these Councillors did nothing for the community and were only in it for the salary. As far as these are concerned, their defection is good riddance.

 

Now the IFP is able to unify again. Those who remain are like a righteous remnant. You have not given up on the IFP. You have not compromised your integrity. You have not been bought with promises of money or seduced by promises of power. You are the people of goodwill, and I thank you.

 

We stand now just weeks away from the May 2011 Local Government Elections, and we are all anxious about how the IFP will fare after all we have been through. Since 2009, our supporters have been deliberately confused and disheartened by the "Friends of VZ". They are now being poached and swindled by the NFP. We are all worried about the toll this ordeal has taken on our support base. Although the figures flung about by the NFP regarding how many IFP members they have stolen have turned out to be fabricated and unrealistic, there is nonetheless a concern. Because the NFP has a bag full of dirty tricks.

 

I am horrified by the political assassinations that have rocked the IFP. Since the ructions started, we have buried Mr Michael Makhathini, Induna Mngadi, Ms Simangele Khumalo, Councillor Mandla Sibiya, Mr Mavongo Gumede, Mr Zama Mkhwanazi, Mr Mabhunu Mlaba, Mr Bhunu Zungu, Mr Mduduzi Mbatha, Ms Zakithi Ziqubu, Mr Simon Shange and Mr Mcebisi Duma. One life lost is one too many. In a foul move, the NFP ran to the media claiming that their supporters were being murdered, when in fact it was IFP members who were being killed.

 

One cannot fathom how kaMagwaza-Msibi could attend Councillor Mcebisi Duma's funeral a fortnight ago, weeping uncontrollably - as was reported in the Sowetan - and then get up and say, "We must vote for the NFP to honour Duma." A funeral is not an election platform. This is beyond despicable.

 

So too is sending NFP members to give food parcels to my son, in the full glare of the media, claiming that I have neglected him and that Ms kaMagwaza-Msibi is worried about him. She was never worried while she was the Mayor of Zululand. She never sent a single food parcel then. Yet the NFP avers, with mock compassion, that they are not doing this to score political points.

 

Everything the NFP does it to score political points, and the media just laps it up. It is clear that certain journalists and even editors have a personal vendetta against the IFP and are promoting Ms kaMagwaza-Msibi. Let us not forget the lie they peddled that we were persecuting our National Chairperson because she is a woman, despite the fact that the IFP had elevated her to the position of National Chairperson and supported her as our candidate for the premiership of the province.

 

Interestingly, when Ms kaMagwaza-Msibi was our Premier candidate, we received less voter support than ever before. In other words many of our members and voters rejected her, in spite of our recommendation and support.

 

But the lies in the media have come thick and fast. I have spoken in Parliament about a leaked document that claims Ms kaMagwaza-Msibi concluded a deal with a certain editor not to publish anything negative about her, and that incentives were paid. This explains the kind of reports you have seen in the media about our Party. I also exposed the fact that a prominent ANC member had paid for the venue when the NFP was launched.

 

And here is the crux of the matter. The link between Ms kaMagwaza-Msibi and the ANC should not be underestimated. During this year's State of the Nation Debate in our national Parliament, I tabled the overwhelming evidence that some ANC leaders are bankrolling the NFP. The "Friends of VZ" were awash with money, for they were financed by puppet masters in the ANC who stood to benefit from a weakened IFP.  Clearly the party with the most to gain from a split in the IFP, is the ANC.

 

I am making copies of my speech in Parliament available to this conference, so that you may see the ANC's efforts to destroy the IFP.  When President Zuma stood up to reply to my speech, he did not dispute any facts that I put before Parliament.  He merely commented to the effect that our discussions were confidential. That's all. And then he quoted Dr Jiyane's defection from the IFP.

 

Of course, Mrs kaMagwaza-Msibi has denied that she and her Party received any support from the ANC, in spite of many statements by ANC heavyweights such as Minister Tokyo Sexwale, the ANC Women's League, and ANC Members of the KwaZulu Natal Legislature such as Pastor Vusi Dube. She even denies it in the face of the fact that two days before she was due to appear before National Council, President Zuma invited me to King's House in Durban to advise me to step down as leader of this Party.

 

It is surreal that 17 years into democracy some leaders in the ANC have never abandoned the original mission to wipe the IFP off the political map. There is no question that this was the goal. Even former President Nelson Mandela publicly said in April 2002, "We have used every ammunition to destroy [Buthelezi], but we have failed. And he is still there. He is a formidable survivor. We cannot ignore him.". I hope that an opportunity can be made to screen the DVD of this statement, so that you can hear the great man himself saying these words.

 

I regret that the leaders now in power do not share Madiba's integrity. They do not have the guts to admit that they are still obsessed with Buthelezi. What has been done to the IFP proves beyond any shadow of doubt that our democracy is in danger. The ruling Party has a record of destroying opposition parties. They did it to the PAC and to AZAPO, and they are doing it to COPE.  Clearly the aim is to have a One-Party State.

 

There is strong evidence that the ANC offered Ms kaMagwaza-Msibi a leadership position in the ANC, and she herself said that she would join the ANC if it served the interests of her Party. That was just weeks after she theatrically told hundreds of IFP members in Okhukho that in her heart she was IFP and she would never leave the IFP. But when her court application failed and it became clear she would have to face her demons, she announced that she could not allow the political careers of her supporters to end there. Thus she chose to rupture the IFP, rather than run to the ANC.

 

I have no doubt she was pressurized into this decision, for many promises of high positions had been made to her lieutenants in reward for the damage they had wreaked in the IFP. And while she may have been assured of a plum post in the ANC, the ANC owed her supporters nothing. Thus there had to be a new party, so that people like Mr Wiseman Mcoyi could rise to the top of the barrel again. Mr Mcoyi was so excited about his new position that he jumped the gun and announced the NFP before Ms kaMagwaza-Msibi even had the chance.

 

This was not his first mistake. Here is a man who believes the electorate should be told not to vote. He does not understand the first thing about democracy, nor does he respect our hard won right to vote. Indeed, the policies of the NFP are fuzzy at best, for they have nothing new to offer. One political analyst put it well when he explained that the NFP was in a catch-22 situation. If they came up with all new policies, one would question why they stayed in the IFP for so long, at such a high level, promoting IFP policies. But if they didn't come up with something new, it would beg the question why they had left in the first place.

 

They never left because of ideological differences or policy concerns.  The NFP was born out of anger, deceit, selfish interests and foiled ambitions. I defy them to come up with anything new; anything of any significantly greater benefit to the people they seek to rule. But the NFP has no separate identity. At heart, they are in fact ANC clones.  This is why the former IFP Women's Brigade Chairperson, Ms Thembi Nzuza, has defected to the ANC. Her ambitions were clearly higher than the NFP.

 

Mr Bheki Mngwengwe also defected to the ANC, as did Mr VC Gumede, who was a member of our National Council. Dr Ndlela, of the Durban Metro Exco, followed suit. Clearly ideologies play no part in the defections. It is all about personal gain.

 

Now when the NFP talks about self-help and self-reliance, people are quick to point out that that has been the IFP's policy for 35 years.  Can't the NFP come up with something on its own? And when Ms kaMagwaza-Msibi regales voters about all she did for them while she was Mayor of Zululand, people are beginning to point out that it was me, as her Leader, that instructed her work.

 

The IFP gave these malcontents positions and pay checks. They learned all they know from the IFP. Now they abuse us, criticize us and pretend they can offer something better. The NFP is born to fail.

 

But we must not underestimate the damage they can cause on the way down, particularly in the heat of an election campaign, particularly with the support of a bought media platform, and particularly with the enthusiastic backing of some ANC leaders. So what do we do in the face of all this? What is the role of the IFP Youth in fighting this battle of dirty politics? We cannot stoop to their level and engage in gutter tactics; so what do we do?

 

I believe the way forward for the IFP is to become the champions of democracy and development. When I spoke in the National Assembly on the 15th of February I questioned why the ruling Party is still so concerned about getting rid of Buthelezi and the IFP. The only answer I can see is that we are a stumbling block in their quest for a one party state. The IFP has championed democracy for 35 years. We are not about to let South Africa go from one autocratic regime to another. We are what stands in the way of a one party state.

 

In her book Chasing the Rainbow: South Africa's Move from Mandela to Zuma, Dr Anthea Jeffrey highlights how the ANC regards opposition parties as illegitimate and unnecessary. To the ANC, opposition parties are little more than an obstacle to the success of their 'national democratic revolution'. But none more so than the IFP, for we have proven to be their most stubborn adversary, surviving and rising no matter what strategy they use against us.

 

Ms Magwaza-Msibi is the latest ANC strategy. They preyed on her ambitions, they drew courage from her lack of integrity, and they orchestrated a split in the IFP along the fault line of Ms Zanele kaMagwaza-Msibi. The fight we are in today is not purely a fight against the NFP. It is not even a fight solely against the ANC. It is a fight for the preservation of democracy in our country, and for the development of our people beyond the present painful reality of suffering, poverty, disease and crime.

 

The Youth Brigade of the IFP is central to this cause. This is a fight for a new generation. My generation fought to win the right to vote.  Your generation must fight to see the vote used wisely. More than a decade ago I spoke at the University of the Witwatersrand and encouraged a new direction in our social discourse. We had achieved a new South Africa, I said; now it was time to create the new South Africans.

 

The new South Africans are competent citizens, not led about by the changing winds of propaganda and the base politics of food parcels for votes. They are citizens who get involved in politics, who do not turn a blind eye or a forgiving stance to politicians who are corrupt and councillors who sell their soul for money. The new South Africans are people who seek to understand the world we live in, who read and listen and ask questions; and hold their elected representatives accountable for all they do and all they say.

 

The Youth of the IFP are at the centre of the IFP's fight to turn the tide of the political discourse away from populist foolishness such as the nationalization of mines, towards a debate on greater flexibility in the labour market to assist our government in creating the millions of jobs they keep promising to create. We want to move away from a perpetual welfare state, to become a developmental state, in which people are empowered to gain the dignity of employment and education.  We want to move away from the state pouring money into its own unprofitable industries, to create a viable industrial base that can generate sustainable economic growth.

 

We want to move away from endless strikes, to a system that appreciates and rewards diligent teachers, nurses and workers. We want to move away from babies dying due to negligence at state hospitals, towards a future of accessible, affordable and quality medical care.  We want to move away from a government that is continually pouring taxpayers' money into fixing its own mistakes, towards a country in which the fundamental right to decent housing translates into actual houses. We want to get the price of basic commodities, especially food, back down to a reasonable level. And we want to see the arrest of more corrupt officials, as we saw with the Land Bank recently.

 

We are fighting to move South Africa away from youth leaders who party with fat cats and throw around money, while the people they pretend to serve are starving and destitute. Recently the media reported that Mr Julius Malema is turning 30, and a tsunami of commentary was unleashed from members of the public who implored him to finally grow up, or dare to try to find a job outside the ANC, or remove the large Breitling wristwatch from his arm when he called struggling South Africans his "comrades".

 

The ANC Youth League has a unique kind of independence from the main body of the ANC, which enables it to slander ANC leaders and go against ANC policy, all with impunity. As the leadership of the IFP, we are aware of the tensions created by those who are clamouring for more independence for the IFP Youth Brigade, along the same lines of the Youth League. There is nothing wrong in the Youth Brigade interrogating this debate, or any other issue. We have never been against open discussions. If there needs to be any change, it should be canvassed within the Party.

 

Our enemies have often vilified us as being undemocratic, and our defectors pounce on this same lie to ingratiate themselves with those who fund them. The High Court has, on three occasions, given judgment in our favour that we have done nothing wrong in terms of our Constitution. But the media, the so-called analysts, and other commentators have ignored these judgments.

 

I think it is important for us to consider the history of the IFP Youth Brigade, in order to frame any discussion on independence from the main body.

 

After the Apartheid Regime banned our liberation movements such as the African National Congress, the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania and  others, there was no political activity of any sort in South Africa.   Bishop Alphaeus Zulu was elected as the Diocesan Bishop of the Zululand and Swaziland Diocese after he had served as the Suffragan Bishop of St John's Diocese (then Transkei). He brought up the idea of starting some kind of "Brain Trust" or "Discussion Group" which he suggested should be called UBHOKO.

 

Amongst those who comprised this group were the following; Bishop Alphaeus Zulu himself; Mr J A W Nxumalo; Inkosi Charles B Hlengwa; Professor CLS Nyembezi; Professor Sibusiso Bhengu; Mr McDonald September; Mr Barney I Dladla; Inkosi Owen Sithole; the Rev Celani J Mtetwa; Inkosi Everson Xolo amongst others. The Bishop was the Convenor and we discussed the situation in the country and what we considered to be the burning issues of the day.

 

In the early seventies, before I founded Inkatha, the ANC-in-exile took a decision to campaign for the international community to impose sanctions and disinvestment on South Africa. I did not agree with that decision. I attended a seminar in Addis Ababa in Ethiopia convened by the African American Institute in Washington. Mr Oliver Tambo was also invited to attend, but did not. I met with Mr Tambo and Mr Johny Makatini in Nairobi, Kenya on my way to Addis Ababa. Mr Tambo told me that he did not think that, as people serving the same cause, we should go to Addis Ababa to show our differences at such an international seminar.

 

On my way back from Addis Ababa, I decided to stop in Lusaka in Zambia, to thank President Kenneth Kaunda for giving sanctuary to all our political exiles. I was later to proceed to Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania to thank President Julius Nyerere as well. In Lusaka, I was welcomed by President Kaunda.  Apart from meeting him and his Ministers, an opportunity was made for me to visit the Headquarters of the political party of Zambia, UNIP.

 

President Kaunda complimented me for the role I was playing in South Africa. He however suggested that I should consider forming a membership-based organisation so that we could wage our struggle for liberation as a cohesive force. I brought home with me the Constitution of UNIP. Bishop Zulu advised me to consider forming an organisation as President Kaunda had suggested.

 

Because of the intransigence and ruthlessness of the Apartheid Regime, Bishop Zulu said it was wise for me to consider using Inkatha, and emphasise the cultural aspect of our struggle, in order not to raise the eyebrows of the Regime. That is how Inkatha National Cultural Movement - Inkatha Yenkululeko yeSizwe - Kgare Yatokoloko yaSechaba was founded in 1975.

 

We used the UNIP Constitution in writing our Constitution. We did not set up the Youth Brigade immediately, but did so two years later. As you know, I consulted Mr Oliver Tambo about my idea of launching Inkatha. Mr Tambo approved the idea because we worked very closely. So it is not true that the idea came from the ANC, but Mr Tambo as President of the ANC's Mission-in-exile who was consulted by myself approved of the idea.

 

That is why, when I needed funds to start a publication, Mr Tambo assisted me. I asked for funds from the Swedish Development Agency, but was told that they worked with the ANC-in-exile and would not start a relationship with another organisation, unless Mr Oliver Tambo approved. I persuaded Mr Tambo to come with me to Stockholm in Sweden where he approved and I got that funding.

 

The Youth Brigade was placed under the auspices of the President; Section 5.9 states: THE YOUTH BRIGADE SHALL PLAY A VANGUARD ROLE WHILE UPHOLDING AND CONSOLIDATING THE EXISTING POLICIES AND GAINS OF THE PARTY. THE YOUTH BRIGADE SHALL SUPPORT BRANCH ACTIVITIES AND MAY CONDUCT ITS OWN INITIATIVES IN HARMONY WITH EACH BRANCH STRUCTURE. So you can see that it was not set up as a separate organisation from the main body of the organisation, but it was given a certain autonomy.

 

When I look at the behaviour of the leaders of the ANC Youth League, I am convinced that they have lost touch with reality, and I thank God that our young leaders still put service first. We face a battle now to champion hope among a nation that is disillusioned with its leadership and despairing for its future. To do that, we need to strengthen the support base of the IFP. We need to expand our influence, so that the voice of the IFP can be the voice of the people in every forum. South Africa needs a strong IFP if it is to arrest the downward march towards dirty politics, corrupt politicians, empty promises and despair.

 

I call on the Youth of the IFP to strengthen our fight by winning us the May 2011 Local Government Elections. Let us prove that the IFP is not only unbeaten, but is on the rise again. Let us surprise our opponents by proving that politics can still be driven by integrity and truth still trumps propaganda. We are in a battle of life or death; for if we fail to pull the IFP through the coming elections, we will see first the demise of our Party, and then the death of democracy.

 

It is critical to choose people of integrity to represent the Party as Councillors. The leaders you choose on Sunday will determine what kind of IFP we will have 10 or 20 years down the road. In choosing candidates for municipal councillors, you must choose people who are committed to serving our communities, rather than their own pockets.

 

I urge you to go flat out in campaigning for the IFP in the few weeks that remain before May 2011. Get the IFP message out there, talk to people, engage them on issues of service delivery, explain to them that the NFP is not the new IFP; the IFP is one party, with one vision and one mission. Promote the IFP's values and the IFP's name everywhere you go. Never stop talking about the IFP.

 

There are so many lies we need to challenge. Let's do it with the passion of IFP Youth. Remember that an election is nothing more than a  numbers game; the more people we reach, the more votes we will get.   Don't let the NFP split the vote and give the ANC total control of KwaZulu Natal, or Gauteng, or any other province for that matter. A vote for the NFP is a throwaway vote. It is the same as voting ANC.

 

In particular, I encourage you to speak to your peers who will vote for the first time in May. Get them politically involved. Recruit people everywhere you go. Many of our youth failed to cast their votes in 2009 and in previous elections. But it will be grossly irresponsible if IFP Youth Brigade members fail to become Party Agents, or fail to vote this time around. It is about your future and it is about your democracy.

 

It is clear, as Wendell Phillips suggested, that the price of freedom is constant vigilance. No other component of society can exercise that vigilance better than our youth, the champions of hope against all malfeasance. During this Local Government Election, just like in all the elections of the past 17 years, we expect to see electoral fraud by the majority Party. We have highlighted irregularities in the electoral process before, and we have engaged the IEC on this issue.  But the ANC has got away with it time and time again. The youth must be our eyes and ears to stop electoral fraud from taking place.

 

We know that the ANC busses people into our strongholds to vote where they don't live, to sway dominion to the ANC and achieve a bogus majority. We have been bombarded by stories of bribes and job offers that are being showered on voters to vote for the ANC. It seems democracy is for sale. Our country stinks to high heavens because of the endemic corruption that exists at every level.

 

I must sound a warning around the special vote; it has been abused in the past and will be abused again. I urge you to assist the elderly, the ailing, the disabled and pregnant women to vote by using the special vote. Then volunteer to be Party Agents to make sure it is not abused. Be vigilant for electoral fraud and report anything suspicious. It is up to you to stop the ANC from destroying opposition politics.

 

Our nation depends on its youth to safeguard democracy for the next generation. You do this with the support of those who have travelled further on the road of life. Our parents were not like most of your parents today, who are educated and learned. But they spent their last pennies to have youth of my generation sent to school. They did this to prepare us, for they knew we would be at the forefront of our nation's struggle.

 

As youngsters in the ANC Youth League, we used to chant: "FREEDOM!" And others would respond: "IN OUR LIFETIME!" We said this with great bravado. But when we were alone with our thoughts, we would quietly question whether political freedom in our lifetime was possible.  Despite our fears, we had to be champions of hope. We remembered the suffering of our forebears, and we were inspired. Though some paid the price with their lives, we thought on those who had faced colonial armies, and we had to persevere.

 

In Romans, chapter 5, verses 3 to 4, St Paul wrote: "WE KNOW THAT SUFFERING PRODUCES PERSEVERANCE; PERSEVERANCE CHARACTER; AND CHARACTER HOPE". In the end, we overcame political oppression by an elite that was backed by the best-equipped army in Africa. Let our achievements fuel your hope and strengthen your resolve. I know that you suffer in many ways, including poverty, unemployment and the scourge of HIV/Aids. But you dare not lose hope. As RL Stevenson wrote: "IT IS BETTER TO TRAVEL IN HOPE THAN TO ARRIVE."

 

I am proud of the integrity that many of our youth have displayed, even under the direst circumstances and the most provocative baiting, since the last Youth Brigade Conference in December 2008. There is no doubt that there is now a last ditch attempt being made to wipe out the IFP. But with the zeal of our youth, I have great faith that we are about to turn this thing around. I suspect that just as leaders like Mr Nelson Mandela once had to admit that we could not be beaten, so too will leaders like Mr Jacob Zuma in the years to come. I predict the day is coming when even Ms  kaMagwaza-Msibi will have to admit that she was wrong.

 

As we look forward to that future, may the IFP Youth Brigade become the champion of hope. Let us give South Africa hope as we safeguard democracy. Let us bring hope as we push for development. The IFP is the party of integrity, vision and hope. We are one party with one mission, and at our centre is our Youth.

 

I thank you.