FEDERAL CONGRESS OF THE DEMOCRATIC ALLIANCE


GREETINGS BY

LPHM MTSHALI, MPP
NATIONAL CHAIRMAN, INKATHA FREEDOM PARTY

JOHANNESBURG : APRIL 13, 2002

It gives me great pleasure to bring to the Federal Congress of the Democratic Alliance the greetings and well wishes of the Inkatha Freedom Party and those of its President, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi. We feel that this is a particularly important moment in the history of South Africa and that within its context, both the IFP and the DA are called upon to play a very important role in their respective capacities. The DA and the IFP have always shared a deep affinity and a common policy outlook which underpins deeply felt values and principles which without any doubt, we share. We are different parties cast by history into different roles and with different missions to fulfil in the unfolding of South African history. However, we feel that we have a common destiny and that on the fulfilment of that destiny, the final success of our quest for democracy and the consolidation of an open society, ultimately hinges.

There is politics which is productive of more politics, and there is politics which is productive of democracy, enhanced governance and progress for our people. Both our parties are committed to the latter type of politics. We both believe in the values of freedom and the eternal quest of mankind to evolve into ever higher stages of civilisation and progress. We act with pragmatism and realism, but we are moved by idealism and patriotism. I feel that this is what the chemistry which unites us consists of.

If we intensify our dialogue, we must also be aware of the many and severe problems which may emerge which are not peculiar to our interaction only, but are indeed proper in the South African context. The culture of our organisations is very different and there is a need for mutual understanding. If I may be blunt, I must express the feeling that we have a greater understanding of the culture of your Party and of the bulk of the constituency which it represents, than the DA may have of our Party and of the bulk of the constituency which we represent. It is going to be an arduous challenge but it is one on which the final success of South Africa ultimately hinges. You must accept to endure the difficulties of this arduous journey which will have obstacles at times where you least expect it.

During the destiny determining time of the process of constitutional negotiations between 1991 and 1996, both our political parties espoused the values of federalism and advocated a form of state in which provinces can develop policy and become a constant check and balance for the central government. That battle was not won, and in the end, we achieved a very diluted form of provincial autonomy which emasculated any real notion of federalism and did not prevent the concentration of all significant powers of policy formulation within the central government. However, all that was achieved was the product of the commitment made by the IFP and the DA to advocate the cause of federalism. The IFP took that battle further and continued to negotiate and extract more concessions from the ANC and the NP when everybody else had given up hope. At that time, the ANC and the NP were working together closely, effectively as one block in what was then an unholy alliance motivated exclusively by opportunism and expediency.

We felt that the battle for federalism was concluded with the adoption of the final Constitution and yet the truth of the matter is that the battle for federalism has yet to begin. Now more that ever it is clear that South Africa will undoubtedly fall prey to autocratic degenerations, intellectual stagnation and all the abuses which may ensue from unfettered power unless we unleash the democratic potential of federalism and policy formulation at the provincial level of government.

We have a clear example of what has happened and of much greater tragedies which are bound to happen, unless together we recommit ourselves to the battles which united us in the past and must continue to unite us in the future. It was because of the defiance of the DA-controlled Western Cape Province and the IFP governed KwaZulu Natal Province, that we could begin rectifying our national policies in respect of our war against HIV/AIDS.

We turned around wrong policies and, in so doing, we began saving the lives of hundreds of thousands of children otherwise destined to a horrible death before they could reach puberty. If policy formulation can go astray in respect of what is effectively the most important emergency of our country and our government’s top priority, one fears that even fewer checks and balances are available in our system to correct mistakes afflicting some of our national policies. The IFP believes that in certain respects the real list of our true national crises unfortunately mirrors the list of shortcomings which the IFP has often identified in government policies.

It is difficult to prioritise the many crises of our country, for many are different facets of the same situation. We have a major crisis in the entire system of justice and in the maintenance of law and order. For three years our government has been engaged in internal discussion about the regeneration of the moral fibre of our communities, and yet it has still not been capable of issuing a profound warning, backed by the necessary moral leadership, that criminality is wrong, rebellion is wrong and lack of respect for societal values is wrong. We appreciate that for the children of the armed struggle, the process of rebellion and the champion of insurrections, it might be difficult to turn the score around and now play a new tune. For this reason, we need to rely on those components of the liberation struggle who always understood that the true struggle would begin after liberation and who never propagated violence or rebellion or a culture of lack of respect and insurrection.

As I talk about the liberation movement and its components, I want to make it clear that the IFP recognises the Democratic Party and its precursors as an essential component of the struggle waged by South Africans to liberate our country from the oppressive regime of apartheid. We recognise and honour liberation heroes such as Helen Suzman, Colin Eglin, Frederick van Zyl Slabbert, Zac de Beer and many others. We believe that your leader, whom we respect highly, is a genuine heir to this noble tradition. He is a true patriot who clearly understood that the struggle for democracy, freedom and progress is far from being completed and may require now as much sacrifice, commitment and moral fortitude, than it ever did before.

We must bring into the country, at all levels, a new spirit of patriotism, based on goodwill and dedication, as well as the critical faculty of distinguishing right from wrong, questioning policies, and contributing to a more open and critical dialogue in the country. We need to ask ourselves why, almost ten years after liberation, we are plunged into a disastrous state of unemployment and sluggish economic growth, which the recent international competitiveness report places us amongst the worst in the world in respect of unemployment and at a mere 1.1% in respect of economic growth. If the country has the courage to promote critical debate, it will recognise the wisdom of the positions jointly advocated by the DA and the IFP in respect of greater flexibility in the labour market and mobility in it in order to ensure productivity, the need for extensive and expedited privatisation and the liberalisation of our economy, so that we can merge within the prevailing trends of globalisation.

We are running out of time to provide the country with the required credible, strong, inspired and visionary leadership that it so desperately needs to redress issues such as HIV/AIDS, crime, unemployment, economic recession and insufficient development. These are the issues which affect all our people irrespective of existing social, cultural and ethnic differentiations. We need to bring together a genuine revolution of goodwill which can give direction to our country and ride the wave of the demands of our people. A wave of moral indignation is rising against government policies on HIV/AIDS. There is equal concern about the issues of crime, unemployment, economic recession and insufficient development.

The DA and the IFP share the responsibility of mobilising the people of goodwill so that they can make their voices heard. My leader, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, greatly values the dialogue he has maintained with your leader, Mr Tony Leon, on these important themes. We are different political parties and we are bound to remain as such. My leader, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, has always believed in broad-ranging co-operations and the coming together of political forces which are equally committed to South Africa. I firmly believe that through the co-operation of the IFP and the DA, and through the dialogue between Mr Tony Leon and Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, our political parties can make a significant contribution to enhancing the quality of government in South Africa and providing it with an alternative centre of much required credible, patriotic, principled and inspired moral leadership.

For this reason, the IFP will follow with great interest your deliberations, and expresses all its best wishes for them.

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