It is a pleasure for me to come to one of the most beautiful places in South Africa to speak with people who share my desire to see this country and this region prosper. The IFP is coming to Mpumalanga Province just 17 days before the local government elections, and we are bringing with us the tide of goodwill which has followed this Party across South Africa during our local government campaign. Wherever the IFP goes, a tremendous enthusiasm of spirit is being generated, for we are carrying into the heart of every community the true message that the journey of genuine liberation upon which we embarked 25 years ago, and which we still travel, is finally reaching a point where the destination is in sight.

The new system of local government emerging from the December 5 elections will open the opportunity for every South African to finally become involved in the way things are done. The local level of government is the closest to our communities on the ground, and it is at this level that individual people and communities can contribute to creating solutions, meeting needs, developing potentials and addressing difficulties. Together with leaders in local government, communities in this region ought to be able to tailor-make solutions and plans which will drive development forward. This ideal depends, however, on who those leaders are who will be elected to local government on December 5.

The quest for community development requires leaders who know the community and care that needs are met, and work gets done. Local government leaders must be hard workers who are driven by the desire to serve their communities. These must be people who have worked in their communities for years, pursuing development, upliftment and community prosperity. They must be dedicated both to listening, and to responding with well-researched, properly planned and practically delivered answers. They must be the kind of people who will spend long hours in the office, just to get the job done. They must be leaders backed by the strength of a party which is part of the community they serve.

I am proud to say that these leaders are to be found in IFP candidates for local government. Since 1975, the IFP has trained leaders of communities, instilling a service ethic and a culture of productivity. The IFP has remained within grassroots communities for 25 years. We have never left our people, or led them from a distance, but have always worked side by side in the trenches for community development. The IFP is well-known in this region, among these communities, because we have always been here making a difference. We have shared the community struggle and driven its success through courageous leadership, unity of effort and a groundswell of goodwill.

It is for this reason that the IFP is singularly well-equipped to lead the struggle for development into the new local government and for the next five years, during which the transformation of governance from a top down, to a bottom up system must take place. Only the IFP can ensure that this transformation will happen, steadily and determinedly, placing the power to govern directly into the hands of the people. Only the IFP has the commitment to this form of government that lasts the course. We have consistently advocated federalism as the best form of democratic governance, which moves the power of government closer to the ground, where it really matters. The IFP understands local government because this is our area. We are a community party. We are a people party. We know how to lead and we know how to serve.

I know that I am speaking directly into the heart of this community. The people of Komatipoort and the thriving city of Nelspruit understand that when one needs a job done, one needs the right labourers and the right leaders. The IFP has led community development hand in hand with ordinary South Africans for 25 years. We know that it is not the fat cats wherever they are found who brought us to where we are. We know it is not the few who have risen to the top that indicate how far we have come as a people. It is the grassroots, on the ground, ordinary South Africans who have fought the struggle for liberation. The struggle belongs to the people and the victory must belong to them too.

The IFP has never been a party to make false promises or construct social illusions. Because we have remained within communities, sharing their labour, their successes and their moments of despair, we know that the struggle for genuine liberation is not yet won. The IFP measures the success of our struggle by the quality of life we see day to day in our poorest communities. By this yardstick we know that more and much more must be done in South Africa. Many people are concerned about our country’s future and fears are growing about how we will overcome the daunting obstacles to prosperity and liberty. Many people simply wonder how they will get through today.

I am grieved when I see the amount of suffering our people still endure in South Africa. Poverty, unemployment, criminality, disease, ignorance, disillusionment, lack of security, lack of financial independence, poor living conditions, and an inability to access basic services are ghosts of the past that still haunt our people. But these ghosts are not unsubstantial as some would have us believe. They will not just be blown away and dispersed with quick-fix solutions from central government. They are real, they must be addressed, and they must be eradicated through tough measures and a long-term vision. The struggle for genuine liberation is the struggle against these social difficulties, and the struggle will only be won through development.

The IFP has placed development firmly on the agenda of local government, but for it to stay there we need IFP leaders to drive the process. A vote for the IFP is a vote for development. A vote for development is a vote against poverty, against the spread of HIV/AIDS, against criminality, against unemployment, against slow service delivery. The IFP has always been the champion of development. We are well-placed to lead communities in the drive to take development forward. We are in communities and we are with communities. Together with the communities of South Africa, the IFP has built where there were no bricks, worked where there are no jobs, and brought development where even no hope existed.

Now, the IFP wants to take the development struggle further. We need to place IFP candidates into positions of leadership in local government so that this time we will have resources to build with, the structures to work through and the capacity to get development off the blueprints and into the reality of community life. We are a party of self-help and self-reliance. We have an excellent track record of sound administration, clean government, and grassroots support. We know how to get the job done. IFP candidates will be rallying to increase community support by taking the message of development into places where people don’t really know the IFP. While our armchair critics loudly protest the inadequacies of government, the IFP is getting down, getting in, and getting dirty doing the work that South Africa needs.

As someone who grew up in a rural area, I have appreciation for traditional leadership that many of our peers just do not have. I am grateful that amaKhosi, Indunas and other traditional leaders, together with Councillors, are present at this meeting. Traditional leaders have offered leadership to our rural communities from time immemorial. They live with their people and know their poverty and suffering from practical first-hand experience. It is these very facts which make it ridiculous to imagine that community development in these rural areas can be attempted without the role of traditional leaders who have always been the primary local government of our communities throughout South Africa. There will never be successful development of rural communities without the specific role of traditional leaders.

One IFP candidate can carry the IFP message of development, development, development to a hundred people. But development is not for a hundred. It is for the thousands who struggle to get ahead, pushing against the tide of a weak economy and slow service delivery. Those people need development more than any others and they are the ones who need to hear the development message of the IFP, so that they can vote the IFP into local government and development into their communities. Our candidates need the support of every IFP faithful to rally around us and express a powerful IFP presence wherever people gather. This campaign must be driven by the people.

The IFP wants to be visible in the next 17 days. We are not putting our message ahead of us as other parties do, and hiding who we are behind clever slogans. We are putting the IFP out there into communities, saying that this is who we are, this is what we can do. I want my Party’s leaders to be held accountable to achieve in the next five years of local government all that we are pursuing in the next 17 days. The IFP campaign trail does not end in a closed office door and silent hallways. We are actively opening a dialogue between the IFP and the people, seeking a mandate, pursuing solutions and listening to the needs of individual communities. We are ready to enter local government on the strength of this dialogue, keeping it open and expanding it in the next five years.

The communities of this region have a tremendous potential for growth and prosperity. You are a productive people, living by the principles of self-help and self-reliance. I believe that until South Africans decide to win their prosperity on the strength of their own efforts, our progress forward will be sluggish and constantly interrupted. Central government just does not have the capacity to deliver on the promises some people have been making. It is not equipped to win community development because it is too far away from communities and does not understand their real needs. It is therefore deeply concerning that there are some who want to protect their position at the top by covering the bases of local government. If these people win the elections, the promises will continue, but reality will just be more of the same.

Local government must be different from central government. It must be driven from the bottom and influenced by communities. This is where real decisions are taken which have a real impact on how things are done day to day. The IFP wants to bring power from the top levels down into local government so that a difference can be made on the ground. We know that policing is ineffective as a central government function. The IFP wants to bring policing into communities where crime is taking place. It is here that farmers are living in fear for their lives. It is here that criminals are terrorising ordinary people. It is here that police need to be empowered. We must strengthen our policing capacity in communities if we are to win the battle against rising criminality. If local government is just another lame arm of central government, crime will prosper.

It is at local level that a difference can be made. The IFP wants to work hand in hand with communities to generate an overwhelming tide of goodwill which can push back the encroaching social evils of poverty, unemployment, ignorance, violence and criminality. This is where we work best, in communities, because this is where we have always been. South Africa’s success story has been written by ordinary people in communities. The right of full political franchise was won in 1994 through the constant struggle of ordinary people. The struggle continues, but today it is about bringing genuine liberation closer. Today, it is about empowering ordinary people to make a difference through local government.

The IFP knows that local government is the right tool to do the job of democracy. In the next 17 days we are going to campaign hard, we are not going to rest, we are going to show up at music concerts, sports events, community socials and church meetings. We are going to be outside farms waiting to talk to people. We are going to be in taxi ranks and shopping centres. We are going to be loud and vibrant and active because the IFP just cannot let this opportunity be missed for the communities of South Africa to win the tool to govern themselves. An IFP local government is a local government that belongs to the people. We are servants of the people and we want to get serving.

I want to speak directly into the heart of communities of Komatipoort and Nelspruit and the surrounding regions today. In the course of producing a commodity, there is a time set aside for every step. In farming there is a time for planting, a time for harvesting and a time to see things grow. For 25 years the IFP has planted the seeds of prosperity in South Africa by working closely with ordinary people, developing communities and looking ahead to what needed to be achieved next. We have watched the growth of this country from political oppression to democracy. We have also witnessed the growth of support for the IFP as the evidence of history revealed our leading role in political liberation, effective governance and community development. Now, the time has come for the harvest.

On December 5 the IFP intends to bring in the full measure of what has been won through achieving democracy and placing it directly in the hands of the people. We are going to harvest the crop of an entirely new constitutional and institutional framework to bring development down to where it is needed. We are going to make sure that the ordinary people reap the benefits of all we have struggled for for so many years. This is the time for harvesting, and we require many labourers to ensure that this opportunity will not be lost. The IFP needs the people of this region to vote for development. We need an IFP vote from everyone seeking to bring the benefit of democratic governance down the line to ordinary South Africans. We as the IFP know that we must mobilise people in our communities to stand up and help themselves and not to hang on to empty promises from us which cannot be fulfilled. That is not the kind of leadership that the IFP offers to this country.

Now is the time to prepare for December 5. Now is the time to ensure that everyone who requires assistance in getting to a polling station will be helped, and everyone requiring inspiration to vote will hear the IFP message. We must generate a passionate enthusiasm to be part of these elections. There is a threat that some people are being lulled into the illusion that things will just go on the way they are, because that’s the way it is. Nonsense. Now is the time when everything can change. Now is the moment to make South Africa better. This is the hour of our triumphant victory for genuine liberation.

The IFP is pressing forward, buoyed up on a tide of goodwill emanating from communities across South Africa. When you hear an IFP candidate talk about development, development, development, know that a hundred people are about to receive the power to govern their own lives. If we are to make that hundred a thousand, we need to get people talking about the IFP. People all over South Africa need to make the connection: voting IFP is voting for development. Voting IFP is voting for powerful communities. Voting IFP is voting for a successful local government that belongs to the people. This is what we stand to win. Let us vote IFP.