IFP Meeting With The Constituency Of Ulundi
Address By Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP
President Of The Inkatha Freedom Party


 

Ulundi: 13 August 2011

 

I thank you for inviting me as the constituency of Ulundi today. There is so much on my heart that I wish to share with you. Much has happened, and there is much to consider as we look to the future. I am here to thank you for your support. But I am also here to sound a warning.  But I must stress my thanks that you have requested to have this meeting with me.  Even though that is the case, I cannot help but take advantage of this being the first meeting I have had  with this constituency to which I belong, since the May 18 local government election, to say thank you to you.

 

The final battle of the Anglo-Zulu War was fought here, on this soil, in 1879. The significance of Ulundi in the record of history is unquestionable. My own great-grandfather, Mnyamana Buthelezi, was the Commander-in-Chief of King Cetshwayo's regiments. My ties to Ulundi therefore run deep.

 

Although my work in politics and public life has taken me throughout the world, I have never left this part of KwaZulu Natal. This was the seat of the erstwhile KwaZulu Government, and we fought hard to maintain its historical stature as the seat of the provincial legislature.

 

Thus when people think of Inkatha, they think of Ulundi. And when they think of Ulundi, they think of Mangosuthu Buthelezi. In the national psyche, Ulundi is the fulcrum of the IFP. Even our detractors sarcastically call this my own "backyard". Thus when a challenge arose to the leadership of this constituency in the Local Government Elections on the 18th of May, South Africa watched with bated breath to see whether the IFP would fall in Ulundi. If we had lost Ulundi, our demise would have been cemented into the national psyche.

 

Every day I thank God that we did not lose. But today, I have come to thank you; the voters who supported me and my Party, to ensure that Ulundi would remain with the IFP. I am humbled by your support, for I know it was not easy to remain unshaken by the violent storms of treachery and deceit that rocked our Party. A new battle raged in Ulundi in the past few years; a battle for the hearts and minds of its people. It was a battle fought with propaganda and lies, division and distrust, intimidation and chaos.  Money flowed and people sold their very souls for a mess of pottage

 

The IFP was wounded by this battle that played out in Ulundi perhaps more than anywhere else. The NFP grasped the significance of Ulundi and sought to strike a blow to the heart of the IFP. The NFP leader, Mrs kaMagwaza-Msibi, was our former National Chairperson and we had elevated her to the position of Mayor of Zululand. Thus when she campaigned in Ulundi and Nongoma, and our other local municipalities, she boasted about all the things she had done for you, as though she had done them in her own strength, of her own accord.  She forgot all about her favourite line of saying when addressing meetings; "I AM SENT BY THE PRINCE.  THE PRINCE HAS SENT ME TO TELL YOU THAT HE LOVES YOU."  That disappeared from her speeches and her new punch line was; "I love you."

 

With sleight of hand, she put herself before you as the champion of the people, never mentioning the fact that it was the IFP that gave her the position. She failed to explain that she had worked through an IFP mandate, with an IFP vision, on an IFP salary. In truth, nothing she did for Ulundi and other local municipalities in her individual capacity.  It was done by the IFP.  She carried out the policies of the IFP.  Yet she has the audacity to claim our legacy as her own.  I saw a very interesting report in ISOLEZWE on Thursday where an analyst Mr Nhlanhla Mtaka made the same point that she and her party have no policy of their own as she poached members from what was her own party.

 

The battle that was waged in Ulundi on the 18th of May started long before the local government elections. It began when Mrs kaMagwaza-Msibi decided that she could no longer wait to be elected as our President, and began campaigning for the presidency through her "Friends of VZ". In order to ensure that they had drummed up enough support before going to an elective conference, the engaged in all kinds of sabotage to force the postponement of conference.

 

They knew that our Constitution requires that we hold elections in all our structures before an elective conference, and they tried to disrupt elective meetings with fistfights, chair-throwing and swearing matches. Elections had to be repeated in several places. They also began setting up bogus branches to ensure that they could send their own people to conference to support Mrs kaMagwaza-Msibi's election. All these activities were damaging to the Party, which persuaded Mrs kaMagwaza-Msibi to distance herself from the "Friends of VZ".

 

Time and time again she pleaded innocence, pretending in front of all of us that she was not seeking the presidency. If she had been honest about her ambitions, our Constitution would have supported her, for anyone is allowed to run for any position in our Party. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be President. But Mrs kaMagwaza-Msibi lied to us, and she stood by while her "Friends of VZ" wrought havoc in the IFP. Our Constitution allows anyone to openly canvass to be elected to any position in the Party, including that of being President of the Party.

 

All this is in the past. We have crossed the threshold of Local Government Elections and the truth about the NFP has been revealed. Ironically, they exposed their own duplicity by jumping into bed with the ANC the moment the votes had been cast. Democracy was perverted by the NFP in the 19 hung municipalities. If the people had wanted an ANC government, they would have voted for the ANC. But they did not. Nevertheless, the NFP forced an ANC coalition upon them.

 

I would be surprised if the NFP survives this treachery. Either it will be swallowed up by the ANC, like so many before it, or it will stumble under the consequences of tricking the electorate. Voters are not easily tricked twice.

 

But while all this is in the past, it remains relevant in Ulundi, for the IFP is preparing for our elective conference and some of the treachery we saw in the past is rearing its head again. A lot is going on just now.  Most of you are aware of this.

 

Through the ANC-NFP coalition, Mrs kaMagwaza-Msibi re-secured the position of Mayor of Zululand. Now she is using local government duties to go from ward to ward, promoting herself. This is in contravention of municipal legislation which bars government officials from using government funds to engage in party political activities. Nevertheless, she is again telling you that she is the champion of the people. What kind of champion deceives her people?

 

It pains me that there are others following in her footsteps and repeating the kind of things she did through the "Friends of VZ". Right now, there are people canvassing for positions at our elective conference, while denying that they are doing it. I will say again, so that no one misunderstands me: there is nothing wrong with canvassing for positions. As I have already said the IFP's Constitution allows it to be done openly. But when things are done in secret and hidden behind a fašade of lies, divisions are created and tensions rise. We cannot allow that sickness to weaken the IFP again.

 

There is mischief afoot, even in our National Council, with people denying their ambitions even while they have T-shirts printed that say "So-and-so for President". Clandestine meetings are being held and efforts to destroy the IFP are again afoot. This might surprise some people, for there are those who thought that the local government elections signalled the end of the IFP. So why bother putting in so much effort to weaken us?

 

They have missed the obvious. While our detractors are surprised, I am not. I have not failed to appreciate that the election results have restored the IFP to its position as the third largest political party in South Africa. Across South Africa more than a million votes of support were cast for the IFP, whether they were for an IFP councillor, an IFP-run municipality or an IFP-led district. Voters were given two or three ballot papers on which to make their choice, and some 1.3 million times the people chose the IFP.

 

We are still a force to be reckoned with; not only because of the strength of our supporters, but because we remain an obstacle to the ruling Party in its quest to promote a one party state and a centralised, hegemonic government. The IFP remains the champion of democracy, the champion of the people, and the champion of hope. For this reason, we never stopped working for the good of our country, even when we came under siege from within. We retained faith in our values, our supporters and our legacy.

 

Through your support, we have proven that the IFP has a role to play in the next chapter of South Africa's history. This chapter will tell the story of democracy; whether it fails in South Africa or whether it thrives. Much depends on the strength of the IFP to play its role. Our role has been given to us through the mandate of the people. Through the ballot box you have asked the IFP to take up the mantle of opposition politics. The local government elections shed us of most of the responsibilities of governance. We are now engaging a no-holds barred opposition role.

 

But as the IFP evolves, there are those who seek to paralyze our progress. We stand now just two months away from our elective conference. Much remains to be done to ensure that we are ready for the 15th of October, when our Party will take a determined stride into its future. We have not yet ensured that all our branches are properly established which, in some ways, leaves us in the same predicament as we were when the "Friends of VZ" plagued us.

 

Here in Ulundi, in particular, I urge you to set up branches and review their membership. Let us be sure who is representing us and where their loyalties lie. Every member of the IFP should, at heart, seek the best interests of the IFP. Divisions and deception have no part in the IFP of tomorrow.

 

There is no rest for us now. We must keep going. I would like to see us holding another meeting like this in the immediate future, where we report that all our branches are set up properly and are functioning well. Now more than ever, Ulundi has become a prototype of the IFP in that our members from other branches will look at how Ulundi is coping and draw inspiration or despair from this example. The battle is on in Ulundi again.  It ought to be so, Ulundi Constituency being the seat of a sitting President of the Party

 

We bear the scars of the Local Government Election, but we do not carry the wound of defeat. We are not defeated. The IFP won Ulundi, and we won the support of South Africa as a champion of opposition politics. The support you gave to me and to the IFP in Ulundi has bolstered our courage. It has shown to the IFP and to South Africa that our time is not yet over. Our work is not complete.

 

We will keep going in Ulundi and provide an example of honest and competent leadership. At the same time, we will follow every move of government across South Africa and demand that the countless wrongs are set right. We will challenge the ruling Party to become what they should be. And we will speak on behalf of every South African whose voice has been ignored by leaders who care more about their own ambition.

 

As we move ahead with this critical work, I am proud to have the support of the people of Ulundi. From the depths of my heart, I thank you.