Our brother is gone. He has been taken away, senselessly, by an act of blind violence and we are left to mourn a life cut short in its prime and unfulfilled in its destiny. I am broken-hearted as I come here today, summoned by the grief we all feel. This tragedy has played itself out time and again throughout our province. The ground here is soaked with the tears of our people, weeping for their loved ones who have been cut down for no cause, but that they held principles and beliefs which made some uncomfortable. The democratic values for which we fought year after year are mocked by the intolerance that still kills our people. We cannot afford that good men are silenced, that strong men are broken, and the bones of those who work hard for our people are washed by their people’s tears.

As we mourn the death of Thanda Fortune Dingila, we may take comfort in the knowledge that beyond these things, beyond the violence and the killings, beyond the senseless power-plays of evil men, our God reigns. On an occasion such as this, we are reminded to turn our eyes upward to view an eternal and incorruptible plan. No matter how many generations pass across this soil, there is a divine destiny for this country which will be fulfilled. Those who oppose our transition to stability and prosperity in South Africa, will be long gone before the cause of liberation is swayed from its path. Those who murder a good man just to stop his work cannot stand against the tide of good men and women who will march forward to take his place. We have worked long and hard to achieve liberation. Nothing will stop us short of achieving our goal.

I say these things on this occasion for I know that the life of Mr Dingila is a monument to the constant pursuit of our cause. Thanda Dingila has given us a fine example. His consistent and unmatched dedication was to living according to the principles he espoused. I knew Mr Dingila for many years. He was with me as we walked the dark and stony path to political liberation. He shared my concerns and fears for the future of our country as we watched in horror the simple but deadly ideologies being born. One of these was the ideology of conflict resolution through the barrel of the gun. We never condoned this new political direction, for we knew that the struggle we had survived as a people thus far would be redirected off the track towards genuine liberation.

Our conflict with the ANC was due to our rejection of the armed struggle. Yet, we were right. The culture of violence which grew out of the armed struggle taught our children a lesson for which we pay dearly today. Violence, intimidation and assassination has dulled the keen sense of our young people’s morality. A natural respect for human life, dignity, camaraderie, solidarity in a worthy cause, justice and order have been beaten down by every hand that raised a rock to strike their brother. Our struggle for genuine liberation has been set-back by the tragedy of this culture, but we are not giving up. Thanda Dingila did not give up. He paid with his life to see our journey completed. Mr Dingila wanted true democracy for his people. He longed to see the yoke of poverty lifted and the shackles of ignorance split apart.

I know that Mr Dingila understood that violence is a type of conduct that retrogrades all of us and fails to move us in the direction of freedom. I feel for our brother’s family in this trying time, for you are faced with the difficult task of assimilating the fact that he was taken away because of his integrity and principles. The price Thanda paid is being paid by his family and by each one of us. When one person becomes a victim of violence for their ideas, we all pay. Indeed, democracy itself is wounded to the heart. On this occasion, we must recommit ourselves to withstand intimidation. If violence can intimidate us, it will have succeeded and democracy will perish. The strength of our democracy is in our own strength to resist intimidation.

Mr Dingila’s dedication to our liberation cause was not based on his political position, for he continued to work hard for our Party even after he left the KwaZulu Natal Parliament. As a member of the IFP National Council he continued to serve his people, knowing the fundamental truth of leadership; that to lead is first to serve. Thanda Dingila worked regardless of whether people were watching. He worked in a difficult time with sparse reward, other than seeing the results of his service. He worked when he was a prominent leader and equally when he was an ordinary man. I shall never allow my heart to understand why, when Thanda Dingila would give his life to serve his people, his life was taken for doing it.

We have many amongst our leaders today who are only interested in the rewards of office. Mr Dingila received no salary from any source, and yet we have leaders in the IFP and in our National Council who are paid either as MPs or MPPs, or as Councillors, who are not lifting a finger to work for the Party. They have no qualms of conscience about earning their keep through the Party. They are only interested in their salaries, and in the perks of office. In this sense, our brother Thanda Dingila set an example for most of us in the National Council and in the Party.

Mr Dingila was killed because he was a prominent leader. It is no coincidence as we approach the local government elections that the life of such an active member of our Party should be targeted and cut short. At this juncture, it is a terrible loss to the IFP. We do not know who the perpetrators are of this heinous deed. That is for the police to investigate and uncover the reasons why a family is left to mourn. But we can clearly place this tragedy within the broader context of a culture of violence, born in the armed struggle, and not yet relegated to the horrors of our past. We must bring liberation from this culture, for as long as it is part of our political dialectic, democracy will never prosper. True democracy demands a tolerance for differences, which some seem not yet to have learnt. What is worse is that no investors are going to come to invest in our country as long as there is this trail of blood across our land.

Democracy demands not merely that we recognise, practice and respect the right of freely expressing our political ideas, but also that we are able to make them the basis of our political activities. Mr Dingila identified his own political ideas with those of the IFP. Our National Chairperson deployed him in the Eastern Cape to work with the people there in expanding the IFP. He brought to that region the message which we stand for, which is one of hard work and sacrifice, out of which a hope for a better society may spring.

Mr Thanda Dingila dedicated his life to politics. He recognised that politics is about a conflict of interests, ideas and points of view. History gives us ample proof that while people oppose one another on the basis of those conflicts, democracy is the house in which we can express different agendas without fear of intolerance, intimidation or death. It is the very reason why we have chosen to build this house in South Africa. As we lay brick upon brick, we are establishing an edifice in which we may finally find peace in our diverse country. Peace is the prerequisite for stability and stability the forerunner of prosperity. Mr Dingila knew these things. They were the things he lived for and, sadly, also those he died for.

My heart is deeply troubled today. I cannot find expression for the frustration I feel in knowing that the many years Mr Dingila struggled were all in vain. While the legacy of his work will prompt us to take up where he left off and increase the good he has done, all that he worked for has been turned against him. In the end, Mr Thanda Dingila was not accorded the fundamental democratic right to express ideas and pursue political activities without having to pay with his life. Unless we learn, internalise and practice the basic lessons of democracy, every moment we have spent in the struggle for liberation will have been in vain. We may as well have sighed resignedly and worn the shackles.

Yet we chose to be free. We still have a long journey ahead of us to reach this freedom. I am saddened that while he lay the stones on a piece of this road, Thanda Dingila will not be here to see us walk it. We must take comfort in the fact that he knew the ground would hold, and our steps would slowly move us forward. I believe that Mr Dingila shared my vision of the incorruptible destiny of South Africa. We will continue to suffer set backs, for there are still those who do not understand the process of democracy or the value of peace. The assassination of Mr Dingila is one such set-back which will be felt in the communities of the Eastern Cape and in the heart of the IFP. Yet our heart will continue beating with a new resonance and strength as the memory of Mr Dingila’s life joins the throng of those men and women who have grown the IFP for the future good of all South Africa. This dastardly act is also meant to intimidate us as we move to prepare for local government elections. Let this act give us more courage.

I am proud to have known Thanda Dingila. He was an honourable man who will be deeply missed. May God give him rest from the constant work to which he put his hand while living, and strengthen the hands of those who mourn him to take up this work after his death. Let us recommit ourselves with a new vigour to walk in the destiny of our country. There is nothing that can sway our determined cause. There is no one man capable of interrupting its path. South Africa shall be liberated. This was the dream of Thanda Dingila. Today, the dream is ours.


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