Osizweni - District of Amajuba : 14 August 2010
I am proud of the IFP Women's Brigade in the
Amajuba District. You have shown yourselves to be resourceful,
determined and committed to the cause of the IFP. When I heard that
you had organized a meeting to celebrate Women's Day and Women's
Month, I was eager to accept the invitation to join you and address
this meeting, as I knew that I would find gathered in this place
women of goodwill. I applaud you for organizing this event in the
midst of the difficulties we face.
There is a wave of apathy and hopelessness
washing over our members as we continue to face the challenges of a
divided Party. Some have simply given up and are folding their arms,
sitting back and waiting for our fortunes to change. But others,
like the women of Amajuba, realize that nothing will change unless
we have the courage to change it ourselves. The success or failure
of this Party lies in our own hands.
I know that the Women's Brigade in Amajuba
is facing serious difficulties. Our structures here have been
There is chaos in our ranks. And our leaders
and councillors are still at loggerheads. When I visited Amajuba in
April this year, I warned that the in-fighting between leaders and
councillors is likely to be our Achilles Heel; the one weakness that
can destroy a strong party like the IFP. I hope that we might use
this time to heal divisions and inspire our leaders to work together
for the sake of unity.
Let us speak candidly. We know that
clandestine meetings have been held in Amajuba to brew the anarchy,
in the midst of which we now find ourselves. The very first
subversive document was drafted at a meeting which took place at
Nando's in Newcastle. There are other meetings that have been held
here which have resulted in a tragic division amongst our
councillors, some of whom proudly align themselves with "the Friends
of VZ Magwaza-Msibi". "The Friends" have even stooped so low as to
organise divisive rallies, disguised as prayer meetings.
So when the IFP Women's Brigade in Amajuba
calls a meeting with such noble motives as celebrating our nation's
women, I am proud to participate. On Monday, during our Women's Day
celebrations in Ulundi, I repeated a statement I often make; that
women are the backbone of our Party. The SABC News covered this
statement in a rare moment of positive publicity. It is almost as
though the goodwill created by our nation's celebration spilled over
into a little ceasefire towards the IFP. We need to find a way to
sustain that goodwill.
When it comes to the media, we know we are
facing all kinds of sabotage and dirty tricks. Just this week
Isolezwe published a scurrilous article claiming that the IFP
Women's Brigade in eThekwini had expressed its desire for me to step
aside as the President of this Party. A former Provincial Secretary,
pretending to be the Chairperson and Spokesperson of the Women's
Brigade in eThekwini, fed lies to a journalist. Without checking her
credentials or the veracity of her claims, Isolezwe went ahead and
published this damaging article.
Isolezwe does this all the time. It often
gives credibility even to people that they know were expelled from
the Party who have no right to speak for the Party. This further
sows more seeds of confusion within the Party.
We should not be surprised, as Isolezwe has
earned itself a reputation of being anti-Buthelezi. But we should
still be chagrined and provoked to speak up against such propaganda.
I am pleased that our Provincial Chairperson issued a statement
setting the record straight. But printing a lie in the media is like
opening a feather pillow and shaking its contents to the wind. You
can try to clean up afterwards; but you can never retrieve every
single feather. People read this article, and others like it, and
public opinion is being formed on the basis of misinformation and
We need to become more proactive about
getting the truth into the public eye. That may mean flooding the
media with letters and articles and good reports on what we are
doing to create unity, mobilize support and serve our communities.
People who send rejoinders complain that their rejoinders are either
not published or if at all they are published weeks afterwards,
when people have forgotten about the first report to which they were
I have never been one to play to the media.
But in this treacherous climate we need to be as wise as serpents,
while being as gentle as doves. Let us not allow our detractors and
opponents to outplay us in the game of politics. For every negative
article, we should be able to give journalists five good things to
write about. That does not mean five articles distancing ourselves
from the "Friends of VZ" or expressing our outrage at their antics.
It means five stories about actions being taken by the women of the
IFP to promote development, start cooperatives, educate their
sisters, impart life skills, talk about HIV/Aids, share childcare
responsibilities, plant vegetable gardens, become water-wise, assist
the elderly and encourage young girls to pursue education and
healthy lifestyle choices.
That should be the focus of our Women's
Brigade. We have allowed ourselves to get caught up in internal
political wrangling and become distracted from the purpose and
mission of the IFP. Make no mistake; I can understand that your
passion for the Party makes it hard not to step into the fray when
people are lying about me, the IFP and its leadership, and dragging
our legacy through the mud. But we need to refocus our energy into
positive action, both to inspire our own sense of hope and to
express to those around us that the IFP is still committed to
serving South Africa.
We are facing many challenges that have
nothing to do with the "Friends of VZ". I look, for instance, at our
countryside and I cannot help but notice that it is not as green as
it used to be before 1994.
Food security has always been an issue close
to the heart of the IFP.
Now, as we are slowly emerging from the
effects of the global recession, there is need for intense
investment in subsistence agriculture to ensure that our people can
put food on the table.
Our country's former First Lady, Mrs Graca
Machel, has pointed out that it is women who feed our continent. One
survey after the next tells us that 85% of small scale farmers in
Africa are women. But only 10% have access to credit. In Africa,
less than 1% of loans to agriculture are to women. We need to
empower women in this district to become successful workers of the
land and make ourselves known again as champions in the cause for
This Women's Day, I expressed my concern
that our Women's Brigade Conference Exhibitions no longer give us a
window to see the demonstration of self-help and self-reliance which
IFP Women's Brigade Conference Exhibitions showed us in the past.
This is in spite of the damage control which our sister, Mrs Mchunu,
is trying to do. We need to turn this around. We need to become a
point of hope and inspiration for women in all our communities as
they see what we are able to achieve. The vast majority of our
communities still live in gut-wrenching poverty and women, in
particular, are suffering.
We also face the challenge of contesting
next year's Local Government Elections, when we are far behind in
mobilizing support and wooing voters. We know from experience that
Local Government Elections are not fought on national issues, but
around issues that affect the day to day lives of ordinary people.
These elections are not about Selebi's prison sentence or a possible
DA/ID coalition in the Western Cape. They are about sanitation,
schools, clinics, food security, employment and housing. They are
about bread and butter issues; the very issues that the IFP has
spent 35 years championing.
We also know that Local Government Elections
are not a big draw card, especially among younger voters, and it is
going to be a challenge to get people to go to the polling stations
and vote. Voter turnout during the July by-elections averaged at
33%. Somehow, in 2011, we need to mobilize our supporters to
This has always been a challenge for the
IFP, as we lack the resources to bus people around en masse. But the
question of whether we can afford to transport supporters to the
polling stations should be turned on its head. The real question is
whether we can afford not to.
We know that we lost votes in previous
elections simply because we didn't assist people to get to the
polling stations. In 2011, we need to get our supporters there by
whatever means possible, as a first priority.
That is why I accepted your invitation at
such short notice. I appreciated that you my dear sisters and
comrades share a concern with me. The unpreparedness of our Party
for the forthcoming local government elections. Please do not be
disheartened by the temporary dismantlement of our constituencies
and district committees. In fact it is laziness only that can
prevent our Women's Brigade from strengthening your Committees at
the level of both Constituencies and District. You need to
encourage branches of the Women's Brigade to stand up and hold
meetings in preparation not only of the elective conference but in
preparation of the local government elections which you and I are so
As mothers of the Nation you know better
than I do that the youth that has reached 18 years or that reaches
18 years before the local government elections are a very important
segment of our support.
From the inception of our organisation the
two wings of our Party, the Women's Brigade and the Youth Brigade
were meant to support each other. It is very important not to limit
your mobilisation to the Women's Brigade. The Women's Brigade
should know how many High Schools or Secondary Schools we have in
Newcastle. These institutions need to be targeted for mobilisation
by not only the Youth Brigade and SADESMO but also by the Women's
Brigade. We have youth in our hospitals and we need to have plans
on how to target all these groups of youth for mobilisation.
Mobilizing people to go and vote in 2011 is
a task that starts now, and a task that is particularly suited to
women who have a better social network and are more adept at
communicating, inspiring and cajoling one another to action. I am
reminded of the words of Dr Charlotte Whitton, a woman who
successfully became one of the first female Mayors in Canada. She
once remarked, "Whatever women do, they must do twice as well as men
to be though half as good." Then she added, "Luckily, this is not
I must agree with Dr Whitton that women have
always had to try harder, as you have always borne the brunt of
hardship. Recognizing the double burden on women in South Africa,
particularly on black women, I have sought for more than half a
century to promote gender equality and women's rights. I have sought
to alleviate the suffering of our women and bestow a rightful sense
The women of the IFP know me. You know that
as soon as we had limited legislative powers in KwaZulu, I, as the
Chief Minister of the erstwhile KwaZulu Government, tackled the Code
of Zulu law which regarded women as perpetual minors. We immediately
removed that from the Code. For the first time most black women in
this Province were granted property rights. Before that, a woman
could only own the ngquthu beast and her apparel. As a result of
their minority status, our women would be ejected from their homes
once their husbands had died. Widows could not own homes.
We abolished that provision and, for the
first time in KwaZulu, including townships such as Madadeni, Umlazi,
KwaMashu and elsewhere, women could own their homes. The Code of
Zulu law also made provision that a husband had a right to
administer corporal punishment to his wife. We expunged these
barbaric provisions from the Code of Zulu law.
This was long before addressing the gender
issue became fashionable.
We were very aware that this was not enough,
though there were practical benefits for our women at the time.
As an expression of my commitment to
empowering women, I made it possible for women to have locus standi
in judicio; in other words to sue and be sued in their own name. I
appointed the first female Minister in South Africa. During
apartheid, I appointed Dr Mthalane as the first Deputy Minister of
Health in the KwaZulu Government. After the dawn of our liberation
we appointed former leaders of this Women's Brigade, Mrs Nokukhanya
kaNkosi-Shandu and Mrs Faith Xolile Gasa, as Ministers of Education
in the KwaZulu Natal Government.
So where do these lies come from that we do
not address the gender issue? Can women so easily forget these
things and be so gullible as to swallow hook, line and sinker the
propaganda of our political enemies and of some of the useful idiots
within the Party that are being used by our political opponents to
vilify me and the leadership of the IFP? The IFP has always valued
its women and we continue to esteem you highly. It is with the women
of the IFP that I have worked and struggled to see life in this
Province made better and easier for our people.
We achieved a great deal together over the
years. For young people who may not know this; let them look around.
We built townships and the many decent houses they see in townships
like Madadeni. We built thousands of schools and Teacher Training
Colleges, some of which the ANC Government subsequently closed down.
We built shopping malls and I invited entrepreneurs to start
factories in this district. And I established Ithala Finance
Corporation to give entrepreneurs access to resources they would
otherwise never receive.
The legacy of the IFP is replete with
examples of the IFP championing bread and butter issues. Today,
matters of local governance still dominate the agenda in meetings of
our National Executive Committee.
Local governance is without a doubt the
single biggest challenge facing our Party leadership in its everyday
deliberations over what our councils are doing or not doing. Week
after week, month after month, and indeed, year after year, we are
confronted by an unceasing set of serious problems, whose intensity
and severity is worsening all the time. We have always worked hard
for the voters. Now we need to work hard for the votes.
We as a Party did not do very well in this
district in the recent by-elections. Everywhere we need as a Party
to double-up our efforts, particularly after we performed so poorly
during the general election on the 22nd of April 2009. All other
parties are engaged in repositioning themselves for the critical
Local Government Elections next year. If we fail to hit the campaign
trail running, we may very well lose this municipality in 2011. If
our showing in 2011 is as poor as it was in 2009, it may herald the
end of our Party in the Amajuba district.
I do not want to see this happen. And I know
that you; the women of our Party, our backbone and our frontline in
the revolution of goodwill, are not willing to see the IFP disappear
into oblivion now, in 2011 or 2014. Considering the strength of the
IFP, built over 35 years of integrity, good governance and unity, it
is clear that the IFP should have many years ahead of it to serve
South Africa. We have a critical role to play in the political
landscape of our country. Our time is not up. Our contribution is
I appreciate the support of the IFP Women's
Brigade, particularly as we walk together through this dark storm of
turmoil. I am still mulling over in my mind how to best serve the
IFP and this country in the days ahead. I have taken very seriously
our National Council's resolution of 24 October 2009, requesting
that I consider continuing to serve as leader of the IFP to ensure a
smooth succession later. I am humbled that our Women's Brigade
National Council endorsed this request. The weight of responsibility
to you and this Party lies heavy
on my heart. It does not matter that I
have not yet agreed to continue to serve the Party in view of the
anarchy that now prevails in our Party. It is a difficult decision
for me to take. Although I do not yet see any light at the end of
this dark tunnel, do remember that I have never been a leader who
shies away from taking the right decision even if it is a difficult
decision to take, if it is in the interests of our Party. Be
patient with me.
Like the women gathered in this place today,
I have a fighting spirit for the IFP. I have not given up and I am
not intimidated. I know what we are capable of and I know how much
South Africa needs a strong and united IFP. Like you, I know that we
are not going to sail out of this storm by simply going with the
currents. We are going to have to pick up the oars and row like our
lives depend on it. And indeed, the life of the IFP does depend on
our efforts right now. Let us give our best and show posterity that
the women of the IFP were indeed the backbone that could not be
I thank you for organising this meeting and
I wish us all a successful Women's Month.