IFP Rally In Mpofana
Address By Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP


Cebolesizwe School Sports Field: 18 December 2011

 

I am delighted to visit Mpofana today to celebrate the partnership between this community and the Inkatha Freedom Party. This is a unique time of year, one week before Christmas, when family and friends gather in a spirit of festivity. It is also the time of year when we tend to look back and consider the ups and downs of another year, and look ahead to what we would like to achieve in the coming year. I am pleased to have the opportunity to be with you at this unique time.

 

Looking back over 2011, it is clear that South Africa has experienced a shift in its political landscape. The Local Government Elections of 18 May changed the balance of power in KwaZulu Natal. This does not necessarily reflect a change in the mandate and will of our people, but a change in the way politics is run. On 18 May, many of you went to the polling station and cast your vote for the party you felt most confident in. You considered the track record of each party and, hopefully, saw through the election propaganda. Many of you chose a party of integrity that you knew you could trust; you chose the IFP.

 

I have come here today to thank you for casting your vote for my Party. My Party is after all your Party. Throughout the election campaign I told communities that local governance is about you. It's about your future and your aspirations, it's about your roads, your houses, your children's education, your security. It's about empowering you to govern. That is the essence of democracy. Thus when you chose the IFP, you entered a partnership. You strengthened our hand, so that we could empower you.

 

I take this partnership very seriously, and I continually warn our councillors that I expect them to uphold the commitment they made during the local government elections. IFP councillors took a pledge earlier this year, and I encourage you to hold them accountable for it. In terms of that pledge, you can expect an IFP councillor to be a person of integrity, who will be open and fair in their dealings, include you in decision making and be accountable for all they do. Our councillors are required to be available to you at all times, to take your concerns seriously, and treat you with dignity and respect.

 

I know that Councillor Mhlongo will do her utmost to uphold this commitment. I am pleased that she lives right here, next door to Cebolesizwe School. That means she is someone you know and someone you can talk to freely. It also means she is someone you can partner with and support. Councillor Mhlongo's job is not going to be easy. On your behalf, she is going to try to increase service delivery in a municipality that is dominated by our opponents. She is going to have to be the voice of reason and the voice of integrity in the Municipal Council of Mpofana, for you have given her a seat in this municipality.

 

When you voted for Ms Mhlongo, a neighbour and a valued member of this community, you joined your voice to others in the various wards of Mpofana who were calling for an IFP leadership. All these votes enabled the IFP to get a seat on the Municipal Council. I hope that you will now support Councillor Mhlongo so that she can work for you in Mpofana. We may only have one seat on the Council, but we can use that seat to demonstrate the strength of a partnership between the IFP and the people of Mpofana.

 

In the next five years, I challenge you to hold other councillors from other parties to the same high standard of the IFP. I will be surprised if you do not see shortcomings and failure. I do not want Mpofana's councillors to fail, for if they do, they will be failing this community. But I am worried by the amount of corruption and self-serving ambition that has flooded into politics, so that everywhere we turn we see people in high positions abusing the power that has been entrusted to them. Don't allow that kind of corruption in your municipality. Watch for it vigilantly. Hold your councillors accountable.

 

The results of the Local Government Elections have certainly changed the political landscape of our country. The IFP has been restored to its position as the third largest political party in South Africa. When you voted IFP on the 18th of May, you were in good company. Across South Africa more than a million votes of support were cast for the IFP in the Local Government Elections, whether they were for an IFP councillor, an IFP-run municipality or an IFP-led district. Voters were given two or three ballot papers on which to make their choice, and some 1.3 million times the people chose the IFP.

 

We appreciate your vote of confidence and we take seriously the mandate you have given us to serve you. We also recognise that the Local Government Elections somehow changed the mandate which the electorate gave the IFP in KwaZulu Natal. Through the ballot box you asked the IFP to take up the mantle of opposition politics. Rather than running municipalities in this Province, the IFP has shed most of the responsibilities of governance. This has enabled us to engage a no-holds barred opposition role.

 

Our political opponents and the media pundits were quick to jump to the conclusion that the IFP was finished. Somehow they assumed that governance was the soul of the IFP; that if we were not in government, we would lose our purpose. But the truth is that the soul of the IFP is in the service of our nation, whatever form that might take. At this juncture, the needs of South Africa demand that the IFP take up the challenge of opposition politics. As South Africa grows closer and closer to the ANC's final goal of political hegemony and domination, a powerful voice of opposition is needed; a voice that speaks with integrity and fearlessness, with honesty and insight.

 

There is no reason why we should be discouraged by the strength of our opposition. Remember that the Apartheid Regime was very powerful and that they appeared formidable. But we never faltered in opposing them and we achieved our objective which was the liberation of our country from the shackles of oppression. We are still shackled by extreme poverty. We are shackled by joblessness, we are shackled by incurable diseases such as HIV/Aids and by a weaker system of education. We are in this Party because we believe that we are able to break out from all the suffering which our people have endured for so long.

 

That is the voice of the IFP. We have spent years navigating the waters of governance, from the rapids of social need to the brackish streams of bureaucracy. We know what can be done and how to do it. We know what cannot be done and how to be honest about it. The IFP has not lost sight of its mandate. In fact, if anything, the Local Government Elections have cleared the waters and clarified the mandate of the IFP. We must once again focus on providing moral leadership and a voice of reason, to redirect South Africa's moral compass to true north.

 

This we must do for the sake of the many who cast their vote for the IFP on May the 18th, and the many who will suffer deteriorating leadership because they did not. There is no question that South Africa is in the midst of a leadership crisis. Never before have we seen the depth and extent of corruption that we are seeing now. It has infected high ranking government officials, and civil servants who aspire to become tenderpreneurs. There is a growing sense in politics that it is about the enrichment of the few, not the upliftment of all.

 

As we enter 2012, democracy is facing its greatest test. Already we saw in the Local Government Elections that democracy can be subverted for the sake of power. The coalition between the NFP and the ANC immediately after the May 18 election told us everything we needed to know about the NFP's motives, and confirmed everything we knew about the ANC's role in the creation of the NFP. KwaZulu Natal emerged from the elections with 19 hung municipalities. None of these municipalities could operate because there was no clear majority for any party.

 

The ructions in the IFP caused by the so-called "Friends of VZ", who then became the NFP, brought an element of uncertainty into these elections. Some people were fooled by the propaganda. Some were led astray with promises of positions and money. In the end, the NFP split the vote, weakening the IFP in KwaZulu Natal. We had warned that this would happen, and we had warned what the consequences would be. The motive behind splitting the vote was not to strengthen the NFP, but to strengthen the ANC. And that is what happened.

 

In theory, the NFP could have chosen to enter a coalition with the IFP to co-govern the 19 hung municipalities. But in reality, Mrs kaMagwaza-Msibi could not choose the IFP over the ANC, for she owed the ANC a profound debt for its part in establishing the NFP. We know that the NFP was birthed with money from some ANC leaders, who sought to weaken the IFP in the hope of finally destroying us. The money and propaganda they employed to assist the so-called "Friends of VZ" first, and then the NFP, meant that when it came to choosing a coalition partner, Mrs kaMagwaza-Msibi was obliged to choose the ANC.

 

She therefore created, through the media, an insurmountable obstacle to an IFP-NFP coalition, stating that she would only consider it if I first apologised for saying that the NFP was a creation of some ANC leaders. How could I retract a truth I had spoken even in the National Assembly, before the nation and in the presence of the President of the country? Obviously I could not deny saying it. It was on the official record. What she wanted, was for me to deny the truth of the statement. I cannot deny the truth. She knows that. And it gave her an easy out to run to the ANC.

 

She and her party are not even satisfied with the power that she and the NFP are wielding through the coalition with the ANC. Just now the NFP is busy trying to persuade IFP Councillors to defect to the NFP. Last week two IFP Councillors in Nongoma have defected to the NFP. It is obvious that they are creating by-elections in the hope of further weakening the IFP and taking over the Ulundi Municipality.

 

But people are not fools. Many people recognized the shadow of treachery when Mrs kaMagwaza-Msibi handed municipalities to the ANC through the NFP-ANC coalition. The NFP-ANC coalition enabled the ANC to take control of formerly IFP-led municipalities, not because the electorate asked them to lead, but because a clever political strategy enabled them to seize control. To me, that is not democracy.

 

Democracy is the electorate being led by the people they elected. If the people had wanted an ANC leadership, the ANC would have won an outright majority. They did not. But one municipality after the next was handed to them on a silver platter by the NFP.

 

The IFP suffered a setback because of this calculated political strategy. But it is the people who will really suffer. The people of this Province will bear the brunt of a shaky coalition that is built on payback and threatened by dissatisfaction.

 

Already some NFP councillors have made it clear that they do not agree to an NFP-ANC coalition. Some NFP councillors resent being forced to work with the ANC. It was not their choice. It was not the choice of NFP supporters. It was a decision taken unilaterally, at the top. That is why NFP councillors in Umlalazi and Umtshezi, Mtubatuba and Hlabisa, have voted against their coalition and in favour of the IFP in their municipal councils.

 

But the ructions within the NFP are not unique to the NFP. There are ructions emerging in every political party, from the Democratic Alliance to the ANC. The DA handles its internal problems with more grace than the ANC, but there has been backbiting within the DA that threatens to divide its leadership. Within the ruling Party, there is division on every single issue and, as the ANC draws closer to its 2012 conference in Mangaung, the battle for its leadership is pulling the leadership apart.

 

All of these ructions within the various political parties create an opportunity for the IFP. That is the opportunity to regain the political space which is rightfully ours. But all this will depend on whether the IFP members are prepared to work hard. The goal of regaining control of KwaZulu Natal is not unrealistic. Politics is, after all, the art of the possible. We have not been unaffected by the internal wars that are plaguing politics in South Africa, but the difference is that our war is almost over. We got through it. The IFP has gone through the most dramatic process of change, but we can surely now say that it is almost behind us. What lies ahead, is the opportunity to rebuild.

 

But we can see that we are not yet through with the culture which "the friends of VZ" created in the IFP. There are vestiges of this sordid culture within the IFP. We therefore need to be awake and vigilant before our Elective National Conference. There is unfortunately no substitute for hard work. As long as members of the IFP continue to be laid back instead of working hard, we will suffer more and more loss of support. Our branches are not serviced by us as we should. Even branches that have been inaugurated need visiting before our National Conference next year.

 

I thank God that the IFP survived the ructions caused by our long-standing opponents. And I thank God that many of our people refused to abandon the IFP. We have weathered a terrible storm. The storm brewing between the ANC and the NFP over their forced coalition is just getting started. And the storm within the ANC is gathering pace. But for us, the storm is almost over. While everywhere we look political leaders are scrambling for positions, the IFP has its shoulder to the wheel in serving the mandate given to us by the electorate.

 

As the President of this Party, I thank you for your support. I thank you for remaining faithful to the ideals of the IFP; ideals that we share with the people of goodwill. I thank you for remaining steadfast even under the onslaught of lies and deception created by our political opponents. I thank you for casting your vote for the IFP. But be warned, there are many people just now who are posturing as leaders of the IFP, who have double agendas. One such agenda is packing the National Council with disloyal and incompetent people.

 

As we forge ahead with our partnership, I ask that you support Councillor Mhlongo. She is your voice in Mpofana Municipal Council. She is the voice of the IFP, and the IFP is the voice of integrity and reason. Our voice is needed now more than ever to create a future in which corruption and poor service delivery no longer exist. South Africa is on a very worrying path. If we do not speak up now and act now, the future will be bleak indeed. The IFP is determined to speak.  With your help, we will speak with the voice of the people.