Msinga Rally
Remarks By Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP
President Of The Inkatha Freedom Party

 

 

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 Party.

 

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; and

-     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 services.

  

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 trail:

 

-     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. Vote IFP.

 

It's about you! I thank you.

 

 

Contact: Liezl van der Merwe, Press Officer to Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP, 082 729 2510.