The National Chairman and Premier of KwaZulu Natal, Mr LPHM Mtshali; the Deputy National Chairman, Dr BS Ngubane; the Chairperson of the Women's Brigade, Mrs FX Gasa; the Deputy Chairperson, Mrs A Mncwango; the General Secretary Administration, Mr MZ Khumalo; the Chairman of the Youth Brigade, Mr MB Khawula; the Chairman Emeritus of the Youth Brigade, the Rev KM Zondi; amaKhosi and Members of the Royal House present; Honourable Ministers and Members of the National Assembly; Honourable Ministers of KwaZulu Natal and members of provincial Legislatures present; Mayors, Councillors and Indunas present; delegates to this Conference, my brothers and sisters.

Today, we celebrate 23 years of the IFP Women’s Brigade, one of the engine rooms of the Inkatha Freedom Party. This year, our Party reached the milestone of 25 years as a political and social leader in South Africa. This year, the IFP has reached out for new heights of leadership and committed ourselves to seeing the Party grow in strength in the heart of communities across South Africa. We are determined to reach into places where we have never been before, communities where little or nothing is known about the IFP and what we stand for. The time is ripe for an IFP leadership to take our country further along the road of development and genuine liberation. Since 1975 we have prepared ourselves to walk this leg of the road together with the people, by walking each step of the way that has led us here.

The IFP is well acquainted with the hard and uphill road. We are familiar with the price of consistent commitment to a long-term goal of genuine liberation. We have never been content to rest on the victory of one small battle when the war is yet to be won. We know the sweat and effort put into winning the every-day battles because, along with ordinary South Africans, we swim against the current of unsuccessful governance, poor service delivery and the slow progress of development. The IFP is determined to turn this tide so that the current will begin to carry us along towards the vision of a prosperous, socially stable South Africa. We are singularly capable, equipped and experienced to fulfil this vision, and now is the time when the IFP must bring on board every South African, giving all of us the opportunity to stake a claim in our country’s best possible future.

The IFP has always operated in the belief that today South Africa can indeed be better than it was yesterday, and that tomorrow it will be better than it is today, if we are willing to work together in a shared effort towards this goal. We know that we have not yet arrived at our destination along the path of liberation, but have merely reached a vantage point from which we may see that genuine liberation can in fact be achieved. As a leadership with vision, integrity, experience and a proven track record, the IFP has what it will take to break the present crisis of unemployment, lack of education, slow development, poverty, criminality, disease, and the lethargy of spirit which is overtaking our country’s forward movement.

Many of our people are still engaged in a daily struggle for education, enough to eat, a place to rest, treatment for ailments and disease, access to clean water and sanitation, the ability to change their situation, the chance to become employed and the hope of looking after their families as well as themselves. Every day that my people suffer, I suffer with them. The poverty that afflicts my people, afflicts my own heart. I cannot fathom how some of those who have risen above their dire circumstances and no longer suffer, are able to forget the suffering of their sisters and brothers. That is not the time to stop feeling, to stop identifying, and to stop wanting to alleviate the suffering of so many people. Now, when life is so poor for so many, now is the time to work hard from whatever position we find ourselves in to ensure that the suffering will one day end and the oppression of circumstance will eventually stop.

This struggle can only be won at the level where it affects ordinary South Africans. In our homes, our schools, our universities, work-places, and churches. On farms, rural areas and in the fields; in factories and in the entrepreneurial ventures of individual people. In hospitals and businesses, as well as in the civil service at local, provincial and national level. Every South African is affected by the state of our economy, from schoolteachers to mothers, from doctors to pensioners. Every person in this country feels the threat of crime, violence and fear. Many of our women are even afraid in their own homes, and countless more live in fear of being in the streets. This is not a natural state for us to be living in. I do not believe that South Africa is good for nothing and cannot do better than this. I will not entertain the notion that we cannot rise above what many of us presently perceive as an impossible situation.

Every one of us has a personal responsibility to make a difference. We must rely on our own strength and do what it takes to deal with crime, to create employment opportunities, and bring a better life within our communities. We have the capacity to do these things, but more importantly we have the responsibility to do them. These are our own lives. These are our own children, our own families, our own communities. Why should we wait for someone else to make good on cold promises when so much waits to be done? We must fan the flames of self-help and self-reliance, because it is now that people are suffering and now that needs must be met. This is the message which must emerge from this conference and from every effort of the IFP Women’s Brigade. As we take a firm grasp of the reins of development, upliftment and change, our leadership will be shown in a concrete fashion.

Having achieved political liberation just six short years ago, I know that many of the women sitting here today have been a part of the long struggle we waged for freedom. I know that many of you paid a personal price, and the memories of struggling against a system which often just seemed too powerful and too entrenched, no matter how illegitimate or inhumane, remind us that any situation may be turned around. But it demands hard, hard work. I am grateful that the women of the IFP Women’s Brigade can speak to their children and our young girls to encourage them in perseverance and boldness. The spoils of our victory in 1994 will benefit our children and our children’s children. But something more lies in store for this new generation, and we must teach our young women how to move on the experience of the older ones.

A new energy is suffusing the IFP. It is coming in on the spirit of a new generation which has seen what its predecessors have achieved and looks to what it can do to leave a legacy worth following for the generation to come. I am pleased that as this spirit moves, the women of the IFP can play their established role as our bedrock of strength and endurance, giving us all the example of hard work. Throughout my career, I have seen women rolling up their sleeves and bending their backs to work, for their families, for their children, for their parents, and for their husbands. In the worst situations of political tension and personal grief, I have seen women join hands and walk forward together with a song on their lips of freedom and Ubuntu Botho.

Now, the landscape is changed but the work is no different. I still see women rolling up their sleeves and working for their families. But I thank God that today I also see women standing up behind podiums and working for their communities as leaders of consequence, able to change circumstances and influence government. Women have a tremendous role to play in the development of our country. I am pleased that, at last, women are moving into every area of social, political, cultural and religious leadership, backed by the Constitution and a changing perception of the strength of the contribution which women can make.

We have had political freedom now for six years. This time has been enough for you to look at my statements to you over the last 25 years, against the background of a politically emancipated South Africa. For all these years, I warned that the day we achieve political freedom, will mark the beginning of an even tougher struggle for us for our economic emancipation. In the very preamble of our first constitution of Inkatha yeNkululeko yeSizwe - Kgare ya Tokoloho ya Setjhaba - the Cultural Liberation Movement, we stated that our enemies were poverty, ignorance and disease. Today we are battling against that trio no less than we have done in the past 25 years. I warned you that our struggle for economic freedom would be more arduous and more costly to us than our struggle for the franchise. From the very beginning, I spelled out that our philosophy in this struggle rested on the two pillars of self-help and self-reliance.

In my whole lifetime women have been the engine of self-help and self-reliance. It is our women who have for years struggled to feed their families in the midst of our great destitution. It is women who have for decades struggled to educate us. If my mother was not as determined as she was to educate me and my sisters, I would never have seen a University door. This is something I know is true of each one of us as Africans. It was our women who struggled in our cities to do laundry for white people in order to have those pennies to educate their children. We the educated Africans are the direct product of the determination of our womenfolk. They have been the engine of our enlightenment. And it is women who received the Gospel even more readily than our men. Our women have been engines of light.

As I grew up as a young child, I know that it was women who tilled the land. It was our women who had gardens in which they grew some of our vegetables, like sweet potatoes, amadumbe, beans, cow peas, ground-nuts, mealies and sorghum. The Nation was fed because of the diligence and the resilience of our women. They have always been the engine of our survival as a people. It was our women who were the best exponents of the dignity of labour as they toiled in various ways for our survival. So when I came up with my gospel of self-help and self-reliance, it was our women who responded positively all though the quarter of a century of our organisation's existence.

When sanctions and disinvestment campaigns were advocated as strategies against apartheid, I became the lone voice that warned that this strategy would end up devastating our people as the poorest of the poor more than any other race group in this country. For that I was prepared to pay any price, and indeed I became a target of vilification both inside South Africa and throughout the world for daring to say we should swim against this current of sanctions and disinvestment campaigns. I was even targeted for assassination for daring to make these warnings. I warned that once investors left the country they would not return. Since 1994, conditions for investment in our country could not be better than they are at present. We are the country in the whole continent of Africa which has the best infrastructure. Our government is praised everywhere for its fiscal discipline. We have the best Finance Minister in the history of South Africa. And yet all of these things have not brought us any new investments.

Since 1994 we have lost more than 500,000 jobs and these job losses are not declining. We now have had six years to see the truthfulness of my warnings. Just two days ago our Governor of the Reserve Bank, Mr Tito Mboweni, was seen by us all painting quite a gloomy picture as far as prospects of economic growth are concerned. It is quite clear therefore that unless we step up our efforts of self-help and self-reliance we are going to perish. We have been told that Africa's worst enemy today is poverty. After poverty and ignorance, our third enemy is disease which devastates our communities because of poverty.

Our children heeded my call to go to school when I appealed to them not to follow the slogan of "liberation now, education later." I came up with the slogan "education for liberation'. However, in spite of the fact that our children have persevered and we as parents have sacrificed to ensure their education, we have the anomalous situation today where being educated no longer guarantees one a job, whether as a matriculant or a graduate of a tertiary institution.

We have to appeal to our Nation to use our hands to survive. The first thing is food production. People in all rural areas of South Africa no longer use the limited land in our possession to produce just food to eat and to feed our children. Our people in the past did not only produce to eat, but they were actually able to sell the surplus and earn some money. I have already stated that in all of these activities, it was our women who were the engine of development. Today, I wish to remind them that without activating this engine of development, we are doomed.

We need the historic strength of our women to make South Africa work. We need the expertise and experience women have gained by being leaders of community development for years, often even behind the scenes. Women have for years been the quiet catalysts of development, working hard to bring something better into their homes and communities. It is a source of unequal joy for me to know that these very women who are a wellspring of potential resources for our country’s development, are the women who have walked with the IFP for decades. The IFP has been a familiar force for good through which our women have spoken and given their contribution for 25 years.

There is no one better than those who have seen the IFP in action and worked side by side, hand in hand with this Party, to carry the message of the IFP into new frontiers. The IFP Women’s Brigade is equipped with the personal experience and enthusiasm to send out the word that the IFP supports women and empowers them to change society by electing leaders who can lead. The IFP’s women must see themselves as the spearhead of the campaign for local government elections, for this is indeed the role that you are challenged to fulfil. I believe that our women can drive this campaign all the way to success, and I want to see it happen.

As the IFP emerges to the forefront of the political landscape as a strong and trusted leader, willing, ready and able to lead South Africa’s communities in the struggle for development, I believe that we will need to continue to rest on the solid base of our women’s devoted efforts. Every social building block must play its role and give its contribution. The irreplaceable value of the contribution of the IFP Women’s Brigade, however, is that of endurance, experience, and an inner collective strength. I believe that without the contribution of our women, we will not be able to mobilise our communities to take charge of their destiny and grasp the hope of development. Women are in an established role of leadership by the mere fact that our young people look to the example they give. Moreover, I know that a collective spirit of empowerment and capacity enters a community when its women agree that something must be done.

For these reasons, the IFP Women’s Brigade has a pivotal role to play in mobilising communities as we approach the local government elections. There is a powerful grapevine among women which is sometimes the butt of joking, but is truly one of the greatest assets of community life. By word of mouth, people must be urged to vote and help other people to reach voting stations. These elections are important. Their outcome will have a far greater impact on the everyday realities of community life than even the 1994 elections did. Local government elections bring issues close to the ground and touch the very heart of our lives. Leaders in local government determine whether the voice of the people on the ground will be heard and how basic services and resources will be distributed.

Development hinges on getting the right people into local government leadership positions. These elections will be establishing a new type of local government. This is, in a way, the last leg of the transformation of South Africa towards democracy. If we can get strong, experienced, courageous leaders into local government positions, we will ensure that development can take place within our communities. If we can get IFP leaders into those positions, we will secure the best possible chance of ending the suffering and alleviating the poverty which eats away at our people’s spirit. This must be an IFP victory. Development depends on an IFP victory.

Local government is our strongest link with those who determine our lives and this is the tier at which an individual voice is most likely to be heard. Everything the IFP has stood for and struggled to achieve for so many years, is bound to find its success or failure in the outcome of these elections. Federalism, self-help and self-reliance, community development, pluralism and our known way of life will all be affected by local government elections. Struggling for so long to win these things and then not voting, is like chewing for years, but never swallowing. Eventually, if we are not prepared to go all the way in our struggle for genuine liberation, we will have to spit out our ideals of good governance, economic prosperity and social upliftment.

This time around, our election campaign is going to have a different feel. We are not going to organise big rallies which fill a few lines on page 5 of the newspapers, but make it only halfway into the hearts of those who attend. Once again, we have few resources and it makes no sense to spread them so thin that no one is even aware of an IFP presence. At the Youth Brigade Conference of our Party this year, I spoke about a new wave of election campaigning which can be far more effective than any before it. If we can take the few resources we have and spend them on one or two campaigning tools, we will be able to saturate the electorate with a strong IFP presence.

This time around, we should be sending small commando-type units under the leadership of our candidates to be anywhere where people congregate, for sports events, social gatherings, community meetings, religious events or any other relevant venue. From here, an IFP presence will be created through the distribution of material bearing our slogans that convey the IFP’s heart. In this way, people will get to know that the IFP is among ordinary South Africans, engaged in the same struggle, experiencing the same difficulties and working for the same good. We will let people know that the IFP is strong enough and real enough to matter. The IFP elephants will leave gigantic elephant footprints across South Africa.

I really want to challenge our women to exceptional heights of leadership, dedication and effort, because I believe that the IFP Women’s Brigade is yet to surpass every hope and expectation of this Party. I suspect that women will rise to the challenge of doing better than our men and even better than our youth to mobilise people for the coming elections. I suspect that our women can develop this campaign into a tidal wave of IFP support and that they can design it not for the top party leadership alone, but truly for the supporters of the IFP. This campaign belongs to our candidates and to all those in the IFP who have for so long been eager to become protagonists. Now is the time to take control of the direction of this Party through your actions, proving once and for all that women can deliver.

The message is clear. IFP supporters must vote. Our people must come to polling stations on election day and cast their ballot for the IFP. But the time is also ripe for other South Africans to vote IFP. Large segments of people who did not traditionally vote for the IFP are disillusioned with their plight, and are ready to hear of a new leadership with the real courage of their convictions. Those who have been antagonistic towards the IFP in the past are now warming to our sound policies and awakening to the clear proof that the IFP has done it before and can do it again. In fact, the IFP has done it with little or no resources, without support from any quarter, under the burden of vilification, and through ordinary people. Surely, with resources and support we can work hand in hand with the ordinary people who already know and trust the IFP to fulfil the greater challenge of development in South Africa.

We do not believe in blowing our own trumpet as a Party. The fact that we do not hold high profile press conferences each time some leaders of substance from other parties, including the ANC, join us, does not mean that these defections are not going on. We were amused when the leadership of the ANC in this Province held a high profile press conference to announce to the world that they have caught a big fish by the name of Sipho Ngwenya, from the IFP pond. Mr Ngwenya is someone I respected for bearing the brunt of the violence that was unleashed against us in the 80's and 90's. But apart from that, there is nothing much I can say he has done for the IFP. He was the KwaZulu Government representative in Durban for many years after his business was burned down by ANC and UDF supporters. When the KwaZulu Government ceased to exist after the 1994 elections, Mr Ngwenya continued to live in a government house which we had bought for our representative in Durban. And when the present KwaZulu Natal Government took over the assets of the erstwhile KwaZulu Government, the house Mr Ngwenya occupied became the property of the present Provincial Government.

Although Mr Ngwenya has received a salary as Deputy Mayor and as a Councillor, since 1994 he has continued to live in the house without paying rent. When the Department of Public Works discovered this, Mr Ngwenya, and not the government, had to pay the rental arrears and we could not help him on this issue. ANC members of Parliament attacked Mr Ngwenya and the IFP, trying to smear us as a Party and accuse us of corruption. However, we insisted that Mr Ngwenya was himself responsible for any outstanding rent owed to the KwaZulu Natal Department of Public Works. There were also reports of scathing attacks on Mr Ngwenya by the ANC leadership in this Province. This is now the same Mr Sipho Ngwenya whom the ANC top brass was dangling in front of the media a few days ago.

Mr Charlie Huang left the IFP because he claimed that he was promised a seat in the provincial Parliament. He was on our list but the fact that we did not garner enough votes to enable him to be elected an IFP member of Parliament is not the fault of our Party's leadership. He is hoping to be given a position which he claims we denied him. We do not need such characters in the IFP. We maintained high standards as members of the erstwhile KwaZulu Government, which we maintain to this day. We loathe corruption. So to such characters we say "good riddance."

We can win this election if we use the most important of all resources, which is the goodwill of the people. If we mobilise the desire of our people to change and build better communities through the IFP, we will have the resources no other Party can muster or rely on. The ANC is ridden with disillusion. The Democratic Alliance is driven only by resentment and opposition. We are the positive force for good which can make a difference in South Africa. Our women are the driving force of goodwill in our communities. Set our women to work, and our country will win.

I do not wish to speak merely in terms of what the IFP can do on a national scale, however. The real work of this Party gets done in the heart of homes and communities and individual people. Members of the IFP Women’s Brigade know that the IFP walks with women through the full cycle of life, as a trusted champion of their rights and aspirations. The IFP cares that young girls are taught a sense of belonging and community, a positive self-image and a fully developed identity. We care that, from youth, women are taught to operate in a democratic society and a progressing world, and are challenged to make a difference and achieve their personal aspirations.

At our IFP conference we spoke of the IFP working on its own strategy to address the HIV/AIDS pandemic. This Conference is the right forum to contribute towards producing such a strategy against this pandemic. It is women who bear the brunt of it.

The work of the IFP encompasses the will to see that young women become politically active to shape their own lives and to help map the future of our country. We want to enable young women to assist development through giving a personal contribution according to individual strengths, skills and talents. We want to empower young women with the boldness and righteous determination to challenge their government to do more and better. We want young women to think, to become productive, and to choose leaders whom they believe are able to lead. This is our vision for young women.

These are the people who can make a difference to the future of development by ensuring the outcome of the local government elections. These women are our foundation of strength, by mobilising voters and taking the IFP message into every corner of our country. It is these women whom the IFP is working to protect, to empower, to encourage and uplift. As women enter their role within the family as mothers, wives, daughters, sisters, caretakers, and even breadwinners, the IFP is there to share and lead the struggle to make accessible all that they will need. The IFP cares that women have access to family planning clinics, health-care advisers and administrators, and welfare services. We as the erstwhile KwaZulu Government were the first to allow women to own houses or property in this Province.

We work to see that women are equally and fairly treated in accessing financial services, housing loans, and land. The IFP is committed to enabling every mother to offer her child a future and an education to grasp it. Moreover, in every aspect of daily life, we are working to ensure that the customs, traditions and way of life of South African women are respected. The IFP cares about the security of women, not merely their physical safety, but their freedom from financial destitution or dependence. For the same reason, the IFP supports the right of women to demand equal pay for equal work done. It is time our women are recognised as capable and deserving.

The IFP cares that, at all stages of life, women may live free from intimidation, violence, fear, and abuse in any shape or guise. For years, we have spelt out that perceptions need to change to entrench respect for women’s dignity in the social conscience. It must become completely unacceptable for anyone to hit a woman, to rape a woman or to demean a woman. There is still far too great an incidence of these things behind closed doors, where those involved or those who know about it, are not speaking or being heard. It is good that national campaigns are letting us know that such abuse is morally and legally wrong. Yet in many cases, such knowledge still needs to drop from people’s heads into their hearts.

In this respect, I challenge all those who know of a woman being abused to speak up and announce that it is wrong, it is unacceptable and it will not be tolerated. Every woman has a right to live free from fear and personal indignity, not only those who are lucky enough or strong enough to claim it. A new respect for women must come from within our communities and develop into a groundswell of goodwill that encompasses every aspect of social life. In the same way, women must show respect for their own lives, taking precautionary measures against disease and ill-health which devour the will to keep fighting. As I have just said, the fight against the spread of HIV/AIDS is just one crucial area in which women need to take charge of their lives, their bodies and their destiny. This is a challenge we can only win by working together.

We can create a better future. We can usher in a South Africa of hope, dignity, integrity and respect. We can make it so that our children and our children’s children live in a country which is no longer wrenched by the heart’s cry of the sick, the destitute, the lonely, the dying, the terrified, the hopeless and the ignorant. We can make that future. But the future begins on December 5th. If we can make a difference on that day, we can make a future for our posterity. The IFP wants to work hand in hand with women as we have always done, to start seeing our collective future emerge from election day.

In essence, the IFP wants every South African woman to have a safe environment in which to grow up, the opportunity to fulfil her aspirations, the ability to influence her circumstances and the desire to offer her contribution to the development struggle in which we are all engaged. This is the constant goal of the IFP. For this we have worked for 25 years and we will work another 25 if circumstances demand it, for the IFP knows that our women are the solid base from which development may take place, and the strength from which we may draw in pursuing the struggle for genuine liberation.

There is right now a struggle taking place in which rural traditional land should fall under municipal government. Traditional leaders are fighting this battle, not just for themselves but for their people. We know that our people are very poor and traditional areas are the only areas where the poorest of the poor can acquire sites and land to plough without paying a cent. Now there is a threat that people in rural areas will pay rates if traditional areas are taken over by municipalities. People in this Province, whether they belong to the ANC, the IFP, or the Democratic Alliance do not want to fall under municipalities to pay rates, to pay for water and to pay for electricity. As a Party we stand for the payment of services by those who can afford to pay as a matter of principle. But the poorest of the poor will not be able to pay for such services when we do not have investments which create jobs in our land.

Truly, I stand in awe of the IFP Women’s Brigade. I am so pleased at what it has achieved. I am pleased to say that the women of my Party have helped shape my country’s history. Greater yet will be my joy when I can stand ten years from now and say that my Party’s women helped make the future South Africa a place of sustained development, social stability, economic prosperity and genuine hope. May God bless the fulfilling of this vision. May it take force today, in the deliberations of the 23rd IFP Women’s Brigade Conference. Let’s make a difference. Let’s make it IFP.


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