Today we stand just 16 days away from the local government elections and all across South Africa enthusiasm is growing for every individual to make a difference and change the face of our country’s future. The IFP is coming into communities bearing a powerful message, and wherever we go a tide of goodwill is being generated in support of an IFP local government. Our message is not based on unrealistic promises that have already been unfulfilled for six years. Our message is not built around false assurances, or verbal attacks on other parties. The IFP is putting its energy into building development, and we bring a message of change, improvement, hope and truth.

Communities throughout South Africa need to hear the IFP. There are still far too many people who are lulled in the illusion that the December 5 elections will be a non-event, and that things will just go on the same as they are, because that’s the way it is. If we do not shatter this illusion with the sheer force of the truth, things will indeed remain very much the same, but the progress towards our country’s final liberation, development and prosperity will forever be set off track. The truth is that we can make a difference to the way things are done and now is the time to do it. A vote for the IFP on December 5 is a vote for development. It is a vote for change and a vote for community empowerment.

The truth is that South Africa has not yet achieved genuine liberation. The truth is that in our poorest communities, life remains a daily uphill struggle, and hardship remains a way of life. When I come into Maphumulo, I am reminded of how much a community can achieve when there is unity of effort and the goodwill to make things better. But even this community continues to suffer difficulties and obstacles to development, because governance is not tailor-made to meet the specific needs of Maphumulo. Governance that emanates from a central level is just too far away from this community to understand the issues here. Maphumulo needs a local government that brings the power to govern directly into the hands of the people.

The new local government being established through the December 5 elections will not automatically open a bottom up system of governance. If the wrong leaders are elected to local government positions, local government could become just another impotent arm of central government, perpetuating a conveyor belt system which formulates policies outside the community context and sends them down from the top, unaltered and unalterable. Local government must be driven by leaders who are based in communities, who know the people and have worked with the people for years. The leaders we elect on December 5 must be people who have worked consistently for politically empowered communities, federalism and community development, and who refuse to compromise on serving the people first.

The leaders we elect to local government positions on December 5 must be IFP people. There is no other party which trains its leaders to serve, and to promote self-help and self-reliance as the foundation of community development. Only the IFP truly understands that community development must come from within the communities themselves, by empowering ordinary South Africans to drive development through local government initiatives. Communities must be able to work closely with their local government leaders, engaging an intense dialogue with the shared goal of building development. Development does not come down from a closed-door government into a passive community. It is a community driven project, dependent on a dynamic dialogue between communities and local government.

The IFP has always worked within communities. We are a known entity in Maphumulo and in communities across South Africa because we have always been here, in the trenches, pressing forward for genuine liberation, together with ordinary people. The IFP has never left our communities to lead them from a distance and, for this reason, we have never lost touch with what communities in South Africa need to become better places to live in. We have worked with the people and spoken to the people. We have listened and maintained a constant dynamic dialogue which has been the basis for countless community success stories in the IFP track record. We have always been here and we are here now, ready to take the struggle for development closer to the destination of community prosperity.

The struggle for development is an IFP struggle. We have placed development on the agenda of local government and we intend to keep it there by getting strong IFP leaders into local government positions. Choosing development means choosing to stop the onward march of criminality and lawlessness in South Africa. Choosing development also means choosing to eradicate poverty from within our communities and working to make our country’s economy grow. Choosing development is also choosing for houses to be built, for schools to be upgraded and hospitals to be equipped. It is a choice for electrification and sanitation. It means choosing health-care that is accessible and effective in combatting disease and malnutrition. It is making the right choice.

Development encompasses the transformation of social perceptions towards respect, equality and healthy interaction. Without developing a culture of self-respect and moral values, the fight against the spread of HIV/AIDS is unlikely to achieve success. Even in this respect, the IFP is singularly well-equipped to make an impact because we operate within communities at all times. We are not just here before elections. We are always here, in communities, speaking about the real issues and working together with grassroots South Africans to seek solutions that will work. The IFP is not using HIV/AIDS to score political points. We will never use victims to carry our campaign. We are saying that this crisis is hitting us in our homes, and that is where the IFP and the communities of South Africa work best together.

For years the IFP has been advocating a revolution of goodwill to carry this country forward. We have done so because we know that South Africa’s success has been built on the backs of ordinary South Africans. We have spent enough time struggling alongside our people on the ground to know that the few who reached positions at the top after 1994, are neither the makers nor the measure of our success. The true heroes of this country’s political liberation are often the people with whom we still walk along dirt roads in rural areas. The ones who laboured and sacrificed, and who won South Africa’s freedom, are those with whom the IFP still works day in and day out in the poorest communities with the greatest needs.

Recognising these things, the IFP knows that the success of the liberation struggle cannot be measured by the prosperity of a few at the top. It is terrible to think that the fire in the bellies of some leaders has been extinguished with fine food and comfortable living, when there are still thousands of South Africans living from hand to mouth. The chains of poverty must be broken, but we must be careful whom we appoint to lead this operation. The leadership of the IFP has a fire in its belly which will never go out. We refuse to lose perspective when we work at the highest levels of government, because we are constantly working on the ground as well. The IFP knows how to build in one place without breaking down in another.

There is no party in South Africa with a better track record than the IFP for getting the job done at a local level. Our administration of KwaZulu Natal is unparalleled, even though we still have to deal with the backlog caused by decades of under-funding of our Province when compared to the funding received by any other province. The IFP is known for its ability to do a lot with a little. Yet we have never worked in isolation, trying to deliver without seeking the guidance, input and dialogue of our communities. We have always worked side by side and hand in hand with those who have a need, seeking the best and most sustainable way to fulfil it. Throughout, we have taught self-help and self-reliance as the foundation of community development.

It seems that too many political leaders are no longer listening to the people. They are doing a lot of talking, especially now that we are 16 days away from local government elections. They are making a lot of noise and announcing how they care for all the people, and promising to perform all sorts of remarkable feats. But it is exactly the lack of communication between those who are governed and those who govern, that has made a centralised government sluggish to deliver and ineffective for community development. If this lack of two way communication is brought into local government, development will continue to be set back and true democracy will fail to be installed. Local government must be run by those who listen, as well as talk.

The IFP has opened a dialogue with communities that extends back 25 years. Our dialogue with communities is not set to expire on December 5. In 16 days time we will not simply close our office doors and run local government as an impotent arm of central government. The IFP is set to bring our community dialogue into the next local government, so that governance can be run with the inputs of those governed. We are not going to hide behind clever slogans and unrealistic promises. The IFP is making itself visible for all to see, because we have what it takes to bring action in the next five years out of the words of the next 16 days. We are carrying our campaign well past December 5, and into the next five years of local government, because development has no expiry date.

Wherever the IFP goes in the next 16 days, the call will be for development, development, development. Development will be on the lips of every South African who hears the IFP’s message. It will be in the heart of every revolutionary of goodwill, who is ready to carry their community out of poverty, out of fear, out of unemployment, out of ignorance, and out of bondage to circumstances, into the light of development. This is a message which must be heard. A vote for the IFP, is a vote for development. Our candidates will be flying the banner of development as we make the IFP visible throughout South Africa. In every community, wherever people meet, our IFP candidates will be visible. We are showing up at factories, outside farms, inside churches, at sports events, music concerts and shopping centres. We are where we have always been; in the heart of community life.

We are relying on every IFP faithful to rally around our candidates and make the IFP presence felt. We are doing something very brave, and yet it is the only thing to do if one is serious about leading. We are putting ourselves ahead of our slogans. We are saying ‘test us on this’. Vote the IFP into local government and hold us accountable. IFP leaders are the only kind of leaders who have been trained to serve. Development is a community project that needs the powerful motivation of a dynamic leadership, a leadership with vision, experience and an excellent track record of community success. After December 5, development can hit the ground running, because it is something we are working on together.

If, after December 5, the parties which have undertaken monumental promises fail to deliver, the people of South Africa can do little more than complain. Once you have voted, the leadership you choose will be the leadership of the next five years. Those who are now hot on the campaign trail know that the next 16 days matter more than anything else. After December 5, while they push and pull in all directions to realise the promises they have made, real development will suffer for a lack of action. The IFP sets up prosperity as its long-term goal, but we know how to do the work required today to get there tomorrow. Do not be fooled by those who set up this same goal and say it will happen on December 6, if they can get your vote on December 5. This time around it must be done the right way, the IFP way.

I believe that when we won full political franchise in 1994, we won more than the right to stand in a queue and make a mark for whoever is in power at the time. We won the right to make a difference in our own lives. We won the right to change the way our country is run, and now is the time for us to exercise that right where it matters most, at local government level. This is the closest level of government to our communities. It is the level where we can make the greatest difference on everyday issues. South African voters are not fools. When you go to a polling station in 16 days time, you must make the choice that puts you in the driving seat for the next five years. This time around it must be done the right way, the IFP way.

Democracy does not mean that ordinary people get involved in government once every five years, for one day, in one place. Democracy is the ability of every person to contribute daily to the way they are governed. The IFP knows that those who govern are far less important than those who are governed. We seek to expand and extend the contribution every South African can make to community development, long-term success and sustained prosperity. We seek to lead local government because we seek to serve democratically empowered citizens. The IFP needs the vote of every South African, and every South African needs to vote IFP. Voting IFP is voting for development.

Now is the time to make all the necessary preparations to make December 5 a day of change in South Africa’s history. This is the last leg of our country’s transformation and it is the one which shall have the greatest impact on community life. Now is the time to ensure that all we have worked for can materialise into tangible results for our poorest communities. The prosperity enjoyed by the few will never survive unless we raise the standard of living in our poorest regions. Poverty is a threat not only to those who are most in need, but to the final success of our country in overcoming inequality, oppression and social injustice. Towards this goal, we have developed an entirely new constitutional and institutional framework. Now we must bring change off the blueprints and into the reality of everyday life.

In the next 16 days, arrangements must be made to assist those who require help in getting to a polling station. Now is the time to motivate those who lack enthusiasm for the local government elections by giving them the IFP’s message. This is the moment when we are all called to give a mandate to our leaders for the next five years. Either we are going to opt for more of the same, or we are going to challenge local government to become an effective machine for service delivery and community development. This second choice is a choice for the IFP. Choosing the IFP is choosing development. Choosing the IFP is choosing empowered communities with a leadership you can trust, a leadership that works and a leadership with guts. We are determined to speak the truth and offer real solutions in local government. Let us hit the ground running with the next phase of South Africa’s liberation. Let us make a difference for Maphumulo’s future. On December 5, 2000, let us make our mark for the IFP. This time around it must finally be done the right way, the IFP way.