Pomeroy Stadium: Saturday 14 May 2011
It is an honour and a privilege for me to
participate in this local government election event in Msinga today.
One of the venues for our meeting with the people of Msinga - the
community centre named after the late Reverend CJ Mtetwa and built
for the local community by our very own uMzinyathi District
Municipality - speaks volumes of the commitment of the local
authorities, led by the Inkatha Freedom Party, to the welfare of the
people of this vast region. These individuals have worked hard to
advance their communities and they would have never succeeded in
doing so without dedication and selflessness.
Being here has brought to me memories of many
Amakhosi and outstanding leaders of this community such as Amakhosi
that have passed on including Inkosi Prince Sigidisabathembu Owen ka
Bhande who was my Minister of Agriculture in the KwaZulu government
for a very long time. Outstanding leaders such as the late Reverend
Celani Mthethwa who also served with me in the KwaZulu government as
my Minister, and who was Minister also in the KwaZulu Natal
Government after the dawn of our liberation. I cannot help thinking
of the late Councillor Majola, who was Mayor of Msinga and had
previously been our Magistrate in Mahlabathini. We are fortunate
that we still have with us Inkosi of the aMaChunu Clan, Inkosi
Simakadeni Mchunu who served with us for decades as a member of the
KwaZulu Legislature, and whose contribution to the work of that
legislature remains part of our joint legacy.
This history indicates that the people of Msinga
and the people of KwaZulu Natal and South Africa have known about
the good record of the IFP prior to 1994 and in our struggle for our
political emancipation. We have a track record which is unequalled in that
we were good custodians of the taxpayers' money that we administered
then, just as is the case today. The things we did with so little we received from Pretoria
stand even to this day as evidence of what I am saying here.
This municipality has never been accused of
corruption. Your Councillors have been good stewards of taxpayers' money. We have not heard of dodgy tenders in this municipality. It is a pity that amongst those who betrayed our trust was Councillor Mkhize, someone we thought was fortunate for having been close to that great stalwart, the Honourable Rev C J Mtetwa. But that is the way of life. In each generation and in governments there will always be those who will fall by the wayside as traitors to the cause.
In many other municipalities, corruption and cadre
deployment have caused so many billions of taxpayers' money to be
squandered that ordinary South Africans are suffering due to the
resultant lack of delivery. Municipalities in our province are in
trouble largely because the government persists in denial about the
true state of local government in KwaZulu-Natal. Instead of
addressing the gross underfunding of local government, financial
woes of municipalities and the lack of critical skills that hamper
service delivery, the government focuses only on what can best be
described as an appearance of service delivery.
I find it amusing how all of a sudden delivery
speeds up ahead of an election and how all of a sudden public
infrastructure which communities have had to wait for years
magically appears for a handover in the run up to an election. In
recent weeks, Msinga has seen its fair share of last minute service
delivery functions by both national and provincial departments,
hurriedly bring long overdue infrastructure and services. The aim of
these "hit-and-run" functions is obvious: come election time they
come and seek to overwhelm the local communities and overshadow the
day-to-day management of their municipalities by individuals from
have firm roots in these communities.
But the danger to one's noble cause can sometimes
emerge from within one's organisation. It is most unfortunate that,
for a time, our good work in many municipalities whose control we
secured in the 2006 local government elections was compromised by a
handful of self-serving individuals who abused their positions at
the helm of those municipalities for personal gain. I will not mince
words when I denounce their actions. These individuals had been
democratically elected to lead our municipalities as councillors on
the IFP party list only to betray their party's values and
principles once they were safely in power. This is by no means a
unique story of betrayal, nor is it an isolated example of
corruption by power.
The mismanagement of municipal funds and
allegations of corruption that resulted from the behaviour of these
renegade councillors did not merely draw the ire of the IFP
leadership but caught the attention of the KwaZulu-Natal
Auditor-General earning a number of IFP-controlled municipality,
such as eDumbe or Okhahlamba, a string of unfavourable audit
opinions from the supreme audit institution in the province. As
party leader, I had spent a lot of time over those troubling days,
consulting one-on-one with dozens of residents of those
municipalities - from prominent community and church leaders, to
business owners and schoolteachers, to rank-and-file party members - about the course of action the IFP should take
against the councillors who have betrayed the trust not only of
their party but the community they were elected to serve.
These discussions were very eye-opening. Even
before these councillors revealed their true colours by conspiring
against the IFP with the so-called 'Friends of VZ' - a pressure
group established to advance the leadership ambitions of the then
IFP National Chairperson VZ kaMagwaza-Msibi, the IFP leadership had
no choice but to expel them from the party on the strength of their
shameful performance in their respective councils. As things turned
out, this decision has been vindicated. The 'Friends of VZ' have
since registered as a political party under the unelected leadership
of Mrs kaMagwaza-Msibi and many of our former councillors who had
given us so many sleepless nights are now competing for votes in
these elections under the orange banner of the National Freedom
Although this unfortunate episode has done a lot
of damage to the IFP's reputation on the ground and compromised
efficient service delivery in many places, its resolution has meant
that today we know where we stand. For the upcoming elections, we
are bringing you candidates whom we have appropriately vetted during
our candidate selection process and about whose integrity and
loyalty to the party we have no doubts. By contrast, our opponents
in the NFP are offering more of the same - discredited individuals
who previously ran our municipality for their own gain rather than
the benefit of its residents and, in doing so, mismanaged and wasted
precious municipal funds. It makes me laugh when some commentators
make the case for the NFP as a party rooted in local government!
I am aware that individuals like the former
municipal leadership at eDumbe and Okhahlamba are one of the reasons
why people like you are disillusioned with politics and with
politicians. We live in a cynical age. Our political leaders too
often play on our vulnerabilities and our fears or exploit our
differences for their own personal and partisan gain. In doing so,
they miss real opportunities for advancing the welfare of those who
put them in their positions in the first place. In this respect, the
NFP is no different from its big brother and benefactor - the ANC.
Whereas the ANC has campaigned in this municipality peddling broken
promises and using state funds, the NFP is garnering votes with no
proven track record of service delivery and with dubious money.
My party and I, by contrast, believe in public
service that is consistent and selfless. I strongly believe that we
can solve the problems experienced by local government in general by
doing two things, namely:
Restoring proper financial management in all municipalities;
Appointing qualified officials in specialised posts.
I contend that solutions to the associated
challenges will follow. I believe that the main focal point of those
like the IFP that aspires to serve our communities at local level
should be to restore service delivery by restoring proper financial
management and controls in municipalities. Without money
municipalities will not be able to deliver the services expected of
them. In addition, we need skilled, professional career local
government officials and not deployed cadres. This leads directly to
tender and other forms of corruption. We need people in positions who can do the work
while empowering the previously disadvantaged South Africans.
The success in local government rests on labour,
in other words, the quality of our human resources. In order to make
the endless turn-around strategies work in local government, we need
a stable political environment with the backing of skilled
officials. I want to use this opportunity to honour those many
employees of Msinga Municiplaity - and they know who they are - who
are doing good work and who do not stray from the right path. We
have witnessed first-hand at eDumbe and Okhahlamba that the
temptation to abandon the mandate of the people and pursue personal
agendas is only too great. Unless we ensure that every elected
councillor and every appointed official emulates their example, we
will never enjoy an effective and efficient local government that
would benefit everyone in South Africa.
With decades in power at local level in
KwaZulu-Natal and most recently in control of the province's 32,
mostly rural and underdeveloped, municipalities, the IFP has
demonstrated its ability to govern effectively, efficiently and with
integrity and compassion. Unlike others who only talk about a better life
for all, we have genuinely delivered services for all who reside in
our municipalities. Unlike others who only care for the select,
politically-connected few, we have brought tangible benefits to the
workers, the entrepreneurs and the unemployed alike. We believe it
is the role of government to ensure that everyone, irrespective of
income or community standing, has access to the basic and social
The IFP also believes that public service has the
capacity to bring people together to enrich the common good. If
nothing else, I want my party's candidacy in the upcoming local
government elections, and its time in office should it be re-elected
to represent the people, to demonstrate that politics and public
service can be an uplifting and creative force for improving our
communities and leaving this world a better place for our children.
Here is what I have learned in talking with people from all walks of
life over the past few weeks since I have been on the campaign
I have observed that people are tired of being promised the
same promises over and over again.
They see taxpayer rands being used for questionable or downright wasteful purposes and wish for greater financial
responsibility in government.
They see poverty amidst plenty and wish to expand
opportunities for people to become self-sufficient.
They see traces of corruption in every sphere of government and they wish democratic institutions whose job it is to
fight it would work harder to ensure that crime does not pay.
They see arrogant people in positions of power and they wish access to those position were open to qualified
individuals with a calling to serve others.
They see important decisions being made with too little input
from the citizens who will be affected by those decisions.
I, too, see these things and I, too, wish to
change them. The message I have brought to Msinga today is one of
hope and opportunity. I realise that my party cannot implement any
one of its policies and accomplish any one of its goals without you.
Without you, we cannot run an open and efficient local government
that works with you and for you. Without you, we cannot stop
mismanagement, fraud and corruption. Without you, we cannot prioritise spending on
basic services and infrastructure where these have been neglected or
open more municipalities for business. But we can do it with you.
It's about you! I thank you.
Contact: Liezl van der Merwe, Press Officer to
Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP, 082 729 2510.