27THANNUAL GENERAL CONFERENCE OF
ULUNDI : JULY 20, 2002
The Inkatha Freedom Party is meeting its rendezvous with destiny. The whole of South Africa is reaching a crucial time in the unfolding of its history. Tremendous and portentous choices are facing all political leaders. Tremendous and portentous challenges are facing democracy in South Africa. We are at a time in which we need to take stock of who we are and why we exist. We need to consider where we come from and what our duty is as leaders, as democrats and as South Africans.
Since its inception, Inkatha has never done what was expedient or simple. We have done what is right and what will fulfil our duties and responsibilities to South Africa and history. We committed ourselves to choosing the right course of action, even when it appeared to be harsh and uphill, because we knew that in the end only in that fashion would we fulfil our destiny and reach our final triumph. We never took the easy and leisurely path which led downhill towards irrelevance. We remained relevant in South Africa’s history because we held fast to principles and did everything we could to remain on the right path. Time and again, history proved us right. We need to ensure that the decisions we make during this Conference are those which will prove us right in the future, no matter how difficult or unpopular they might be.
The IFP must move in the direction which responds to the needs of South Africa. We are married to the paramount interests of South Africa. We are not in politics to serve our own interests. We are not in politics to take up offices and enjoy the perks of power. We are in politics to serve the people of South Africa and to promote democracy and development in our land. Since the inception of my political career almost half a century ago, I have pursued one mission and one mission only. I have pursued the mission of transforming our country into a land in which democracy and development can finally bring real freedom to all those who were oppressed in the past, and continue to be oppressed in the present.
I have dedicated my entire life to freeing people from political oppression as well as economic oppression. Only democracy and development can bring about the final liberation of our people from the oppression of unemployment, poverty, a lack of essential services and ignorance for lack of education, knowledge and exposure. Democracy without development cannot achieve this purpose. It can only replace an illegitimate ruling elite with one which is democratically elected, without however affecting the conditions of the majority of our people. Development cannot flourish unless democracy flourishes. We need to bring democracy to grassroots level. The time has come to separate those who believe in true democracy and genuine development, from those who are only seeking to obtain and maintain power for themselves. We need to construct a national alliance for development and democracy amongst all those who are earnestly committed to South Africa.
The decisions ahead are difficult. The political terrain is harsh and unknown. However, we are not new to covering harsh political terrain. Because of our love for South Africa, we walked in unknown and harsh political terrain when we formed Inkatha as a cultural liberation movement at a time when all the liberation forces had been banned, exiled and declared illegal. We knew that we had to come together to keep the flag of liberation flying and maintain our mobilisation. We did not know what would become of us, nor did we know of the magnitude of the risks ahead. We only knew that it was the right thing to do and, with faith and in the name of history, we did it.
Similarly, when in 1979 we were confronted with having to embrace the armed struggle, rebellion and the path of military insurrection that the ANC leaders had decided to foist on our liberation movement as its sole strategy, we knew that it was right for us not to join forces in such effort. It was not the easy thing to do. We rejected violence and military insurrection not because it was the easy thing to do but because it was the hard, but right thing to do. We shall never forget who we are and where we come from.
In 1980 in this Province we opened a dialogue between the then deeply divided ethnic groups and established the Buthelezi Commission to bring together people of goodwill, South African patriots and people who cared about our future, irrespective of race, colour and creed. We came together across the then deeply divided racial landscape because we realised that our destinies were intertwined and that only by working together could we bring about democracy and development. We swam against the currents as we violated all the rules of apartheid as well as those governing the liberation struggle conceived around the armed struggle and military insurrection. In 1986, we established the KwaZulu Natal Indaba, which led to the KwaZulu-Natal Joint Executive Authority, which was the first inter-racial government of South Africa.
We stood our ground all the time without having others prescribe to us what we ought to do. We would not allow the leaders of the armed struggle to force us to take up arms and embrace the impossible dream of a disastrous military insurrection against apartheid. We did not allow the regime of apartheid to set any conditions on our existence or activities. They tried to relegate us along racial lines, and in response we opened up our movement to all South African patriots irrespective of race.
They tried to relegate us to dealing with matters relating to culture or only to KwaZulu, but we raised our voice high and loud on all political matters so that it could be heard not only throughout South Africa, but everywhere internationally.
We forced apartheid to acknowledge its failure as we collapsed its grand architecture by refusing to take up independence, in spite of its great lures. We forced apartheid to release President Mandela and unban the ANC and all the other political parties by campaigning for decades to that end and by refusing to negotiate until an all-inclusive forum could be established to ensure their participation. We stood by our principles, which we knew to be right, and in the end we were proven right time and again. Apartheid realised that it had to give way to democracy, a realisation that former President FW de Klerk openly ascribed to the political resolve of Inkatha. The other components of the liberation movement realised that the only way of securing democracy and a prosperous future for our country was by abandoning the impossible dream of a military action, which would have divided all South Africans, and by following what the IFP had preached for so many years. In the end, we ended up right where I always said we should be; negotiating, negotiating and negotiating.
During the negotiation process we stood firm on the grounds of federalism and pluralism. We knew that federalism and pluralism were essential to producing a new South Africa which could fulfil its promise of prosperity and security to all its sons and daughters. It was not an easy course of action to undertake. We withheld our support for the interim Constitution for as long as we could in order to correct its many flaws. By doing so, we achieved improvements and gains for freedom and democracy which many observers thought were impossible to negotiate. There was no doubt that we were negotiating with people who, at the time, were inspired by a philosophy of centralism, totalitarianism and a deep-seated suspicion of democracy and an open society. They were inspired by the desire to control the whole of the country and everything in it. We paid a very high political price for our firm and courageous negotiating stance, but we gained enormously for democracy. What we gained did not advantage us as a political party, but benefited the whole of South Africa. We did not take such stance for our own sake. We did it for democracy.
The list of that which we secured for democracy is too long to mention. But one must remember that were it not for us, there would not have been provinces between 1994 and 1999 and their final establishment would have been left to the Constitutional Assembly which, in all probability, would never have created them. Were it not for us, there would have been no provisions for traditional leaders, or mention of a Kingdom which had to be recognised in our Province. Were it not for us, a large number of checks and balances would not be in the Constitution, and the powers of the Constitutional Assembly would have been unlimited. Were it not for us, the text adopted by the Constitutional Assembly would not have been challenged and improved upon by order of the Constitutional Court. Were it not for us, South African democracy would not be the way it is. It would not be the type of democracy in which all political parties, including the ANC, are now taking so much pride.
It was not easy for us to enter into the Government of National Unity of President Mandela. There was no reconciliation between us and the ANC. The violence had not subsided. Too many of our people had been killed by the ANC and our leaders continued to be the target of a systematic plan of mass assassination which claimed about 400 lives. Our own members got involved in the violence that became inevitable. The ANC has not acknowledged our victims or even apologised for having engendered the conflict and brought devastation, terror and despair into our communities. We joined the Government against the backdrop of propaganda aimed at denying the very existence of the black-on-black conflict and the historical reality of its 20,000 victims. We entered the Government of National Unity while the TRC was being mandated to rewrite history to accommodate the victors’ version of events and obliterate our role from the liberation struggle. Nothing could have been more difficult than joining hands with the ANC to pursue the cause of national development and reconciliation. We did it not because it was the easy thing to do, but because it was the hard and right thing to do.
Since 1996, whenever I had the opportunity I impressed the need for reconciliation between the ANC and the IFP. I urged our people to set aside differences, bury old grudges and overcome the legacy of the past, in order to join hands in building democracy and bringing about reconciliation. Since 1996 I have been promoting a revolution of goodwill to bring together all South Africans of goodwill irrespective of race, political allegiance or social conditions. I impressed the need to mobilise the vital and positive energies of all South Africans of goodwill to forge a new country in the precious material of personal responsibility, goodwill and national reconciliation. First and foremost the IFP has worked hard and consistently to strengthen our democracy. Only democracy can replace violence. Only democracy can guarantee freedom. Only democracy can guarantee that the rule of man may forever give way to the rule of law.
The IFP in Government has upheld the law. We have upheld democracy. We have strengthened our institutions of government. We have promoted reconciliation at all costs. We have left no stone unturned to promote reconciliation. We were deeply aware that the alternative to reconciliation was just too ghastly to contemplate. President Mbeki and I worked very closely, hand in hand, day in and day out, in spite of the many difficulties we have had and many differences of viewpoint which we have experienced. I felt it was important to give the example from the highest level of government. I felt that our example of working together as responsible leaders could enable all our people to find in their hearts not only the strength to reconcile with those who were once their enemies, but also to join hands with them and look upon them as brothers and sisters in the work of national development and reconciliation.
Throughout my life I have projected the notion that civilisation, progress and democracy are about disagreeing without being disagreeable, and understanding that our opponent in politics or life is not our enemy. No South African is an enemy to another South African. We have different viewpoints and objectives which can lead us to oppose one another in politics, but that does not make us enemies. This is the spirit which the IFP espoused and consolidated during its eight-year participation in the Government of National Unity which President Mbeki and I decided to continue after 1999, even though the IFP no longer had an entitlement to it. It is this conviction which has prompted me to invite all the political leaders to this Conference in the spirit of my revolution of goodwill and in the interests of South Africa.
After 1999 the Government of National Unity continued as a coalition government on the basis of an agreement between President Mbeki and I. However, from the outset things were difficult, as I was originally informed that I would be called upon to serve as the country’s Deputy President. However, soon thereafter President Mbeki set the condition that I could hold the office of Deputy President only if I accepted that Mr S’bu Ndebele would become the Premier of KwaZulu Natal. The ANC had lost the 1999 elections in KwaZulu Natal, but wanted to subvert the electoral result by taking the Premiership, trading horses with me on the basis of a Deputy Presidency.
I should have at this point told the President that I could not entertain any idea of serving in his government after such an effort was made to create a rift between me and the voters, who had voted for me and my Party in 1999. The President was open with me and told me that Mr S'bu Ndebele and a delegation had been sitting on the very seat I was sitting on earlier in the day to make this suggestion of swopping the KwaZulu Natal Premiership for the position of Deputy President. I thought that those who suggested this to the President were either people who despised me in thinking that I would fall for such blandishments, or that they were deliberately ensuring that I should never hold the position of Deputy President which had been offered to me long before the elections without any such conditions.
In spite of this I have served in President Mbeki’s Government not for my own sake, but for the sake of democracy in South Africa. It was not for me to give away that which the electorate had bestowed on the IFP. The Premiership of KwaZulu Natal belongs to the IFP by virtue of popular decree. I could not follow the path of reconciliation to that bitter end and I could not just bow down, letting the ANC take that to which it was not entitled. For that reason, I declined to take up the Deputy Presidency. It was not the easy thing to do, but was the right thing to do. It was not easy to remain in the National Government after this initial problem, but it was the right thing to do to agree to remain in the Cabinet, when after my rejection of the Deputy Presidency, the President still asked me to serve in the Government as before, as just one of his Ministers.
As you know, problems compounded and became more difficult in many respects, including fundamental policy issues both in terms of domestic and international matters. There was also the absurd situation created by the imposition on me of a Director-General who made a habit of openly defying my instructions and conducting himself in total insubordination, causing great harm to my Department, our Government and our democracy. Throughout, my main concern was that of reconciliation. We stood firm, endured the harshness of the path and moved forward, because our role in politics is that of defending democracy and serving South Africa.
We have not been in the coalition Government with the ANC as pot plants. We spoke up firmly and constantly on policy issues, especially at Cabinet level. We provided our contribution where it mattered most, to increase good governance and serve the interests of South Africa. It is often not easy to speak up in private and maintain a low profile in public. It was not the easy thing to do, but it was the right thing to do. By so doing, we could effect in the best way possible the good governance of South Africa and the consolidation of democracy.
Democracy has been consolidated enormously since 1994. The IFP is totally committed to democracy. We are committed to operating within the institution of government, the rule of law and the framework of the Constitution. There are many things in our Constitution and the existing laws which we do not like, but we shall respect them for as long as they are in force. We will operate within the system to change them. We have committed to allow the rule of law to triumph so that the rule of man can forever be curtailed. For this reason, as a political Party and as leaders, we must pledge our total allegiance to the law, even though we are committed to changing those laws we do not like. We seek power to change the laws and even those parts of the Constitution which are not in the best interests of South Africa. We will continue to fight for those changes, but only through the rule of law and by respecting the law for as long as the law is law.
Democracy has taken root. We are committed to democracy and we shall weigh and assess our options as they are offered to us within a democratic system. It is high time for the press and our opponents to stop threatening the IFP with images of violence merely because we assess what options are available to us under the Constitution, under the law and in political terms. The IFP has never espoused violence. The IFP has never condoned violence. The IFP has been the constant target of violence and has paid a huge price of untold misery and suffering because of violence. We have attended too many funerals. We have seen too much suffering. We abhor violence. We will never tolerate violence. We will never resort to violence. We refused to participate in the armed struggle because of these convictions. It was a painful experience for me to have to tell my followers at the height of that war of attrition, that they had to defend themselves with whatever means were available. I had to tell them that it was their inalienable right, entrenched in our jurisprudence, to defend themselves and their loved ones.
We are committed to constitutional democracy because we are committed to the social stability which emanates from the rule of law. Our commitment stems out of the urgency for growth and prosperity. Unless there is democracy, there will not be growth. Unless there is growth, there will not be prosperity. We are committed to addressing the plight of those who are suffering because of poverty, unemployment and under-development. They cannot wait for democracy. They cannot wait for prosperity. They cannot wait for justice. We cannot wait for justice. South Africa cannot wait for justice. For this reason, our commitment to democracy now forces us to weigh the priorities and poses before this Conference profound dilemmas.
We must consider where we come from. We must consider our having always stood by that which is right. We must now consider our responsibility to democracy and South Africa. What is demanded from us now is going to be as difficult as it was in the past. The challenge is as great as it has ever been before. Now more than ever South Africa calls on us to face up to our responsibility to defend democracy. Democracy is under attack. The next stage of consolidating democracy will be that of protecting it. It is our responsibility to determine how we can best serve democracy henceforth.
We must continue to serve the rule of law and ensure that the rule of law is respected above everything else. The rule of law has been broken. The will of the people has been frustrated and mortified. You know about the legislation surreptitiously adopted to enable elected representatives to cross the floor from one political party to the other in the middle of their political mandate. This law changes the rules of the game while the game is being played. An electoral mandate is a contract between the voters and their elected representatives which expresses the will of the people. This contract cannot be changed unilaterally and in the middle of its mandate. The voters must know the rules under which they are giving their electoral mandate, which cannot be changed after the mandate is given.
The present law, which in all probability violates the Constitution, enables members of national and provincial legislatures and municipal councils alike to leave their political party, carrying with them their seat and all the votes which the people cast not for them but for the Party which had listed them as candidates. Effectively, all the IFP votes cast to elect a representative who crosses the floor to the ANC will become ANC votes. Those are your votes. It is like someone came to the voting station and tore up your ballot paper and replaced it with one with a different preference.
On the strength of the legislation which enables people to cross the floor, the ANC sought to secure an artificial majority in the Province of KwaZulu Natal. However, the Natal High Court first, and then the Constitutional Court, froze the entire situation and prohibited the effects of this crossing of the floor from playing out in our politics. Effectively, the entire situation has been kept in limbo until the Constitutional Court determines the validity of this legislation, which the IFP is challenging together with the UDM. The Court will also need to determine the validity of the attempts made by those who sought to cross the floor when the Cape High Court had suspended the law. It is a complex legal situation in which several courts gave several orders, and the Constitutional Court may end up declaring the crossing of the floor by those who attempted to do so to be invalid, even if the law is finally held to be constitutional.
Under these conditions, our primary responsibility to democracy is to ensure that the will of the people is respected. The ANC has given us formal notice that they intend to pass a vote of no-confidence in our Premier, the Honourable LPHM Mtshali, and substitute his Premiership with that of Mr S’bu Ndebele. Mr S’bu Ndebele was not elected to be the Premier of KwaZulu Natal and he is attempting to usurp that position through trickery and manipulation. Accordingly, on behalf of the IFP, and indeed on behalf of all of you, I reacted to the ANC’s position by publicly stating that the IFP will do everything which is allowed under the Constitution and we will consider any option available to us to ensure that the electoral mandate is respected and the Premiership of KwaZulu Natal is retained within the IFP until 2004, and beyond.
Our National Council also adopted a clear resolution stating that if the ANC were to seize the Premiership of KwaZulu Natal by hook or by crook, the IFP will not participate under any condition in Mr S’bu Ndebele's government. We will not be part of a government which does not have the legitimacy of an electoral mandate. We will not sit at the table of somebody who has usurped the will of the people. This was the position taken and expressed by our National Council and it is for this Conference to determine whether this position should be maintained or changed. Last Wednesday, in a front page article, Business Day reported statements from ANC leaders in KwaZulu Natal asking us to express an opinion on whether the IFP should continue to serve in the national coalition Government with the ANC. It is not for the ANC to put on the agenda what this Conference has to consider. It is not for us to decide for how much longer the IFP is to perform its role in the coalition Government at national level. Our spokesperson, the Honourable Reverend Musa Zondi responded appropriately to this insulting taunt, on behalf of all of us. We were all proud of the dignified manner in which he responded.
The national coalition Government has a purpose which remains unfulfilled, as it was established to promote good governance, strengthen democracy and bring about greater reconciliation. These purposes will continue to be fulfilled by the IFP remaining part of the national Government. However, the length of our participation will not be the product of our own decision. Technically speaking, we serve at the invitation and pleasure of President Mbeki and it is his prerogative to determine if and when the coalition is to end. What we do know is that irrespective of whether we are part of the Government of National Unity with the ANC at the national level or we are out of it, our responsibilities to democracy and South Africa do not change. What may change is the modality, style and emphasis with which we fulfil the responsibilities, but not their nature.
During my reply to the Sate of the Nation address by President Mbeki this year, I made it very clear that there are great concerns and challenges for our democracy which impose on me and on the Inkatha Freedom Party the responsibility of speaking up. During my address to Parliament I identified crucial areas of concern in which the efforts of our Government are just not going far enough or its perspective and attitude is inadequate. Since 1994 a great deal has been done to achieve the goals of our Government. The situation in many of our communities has improved dramatically. The plight of poverty has been alleviated in many respects. One acknowledges the great results which have been achieved. However one must also acknowledge that we have not gone far enough and we could have gone much further had the IFP policies and perspectives been adopted. The country needs stronger, more inspired and more focused leadership and needs to rely more on the contribution that the IFP has to make towards its governance.
I am very pleased that the Leader of the Opposition is with us today. His presence here amongst us is no coincidence. I have known him for a long time and I have known his father, Judge Leon, for an even longer time. Judge Leon has always been a man of great integrity, compassion and patriotism. Mr Tony Leon and I have shared many concerns about the present and the future of South Africa. We come from different backgrounds and have different angles from which we look at issues. Our styles are different. The IFP and the Democratic Alliance are different, and that difference is important. Ours are two different parties which are meant to remain different and distinct. However, we see many things the same way and we share similar concerns. Both the IFP and the Democratic Alliance are facing our responsibilities to democracy and South Africa. We know that because of the great social and economic challenges confronting our people, we need to have a government capable of dealing with such challenges effectively, with inspired and principled leadership.
This Conference has in the past decades been addressed by prominent leaders of the Progressive Federal Party, such as Dr Helen Suzman, Mr Colin Eglin, and Dr van Zyl Slabbert. I also decided to write to leaders of other political parties in the spirit in which I have always served South Africa and consonant with my revolution of goodwill. Our political differences are of no consequence, if we juxtapose them with what is in the interests of the whole of South Africa. It is good to see Bishop Mogoba here and I thank him for having accepted my invitation. Robert Sobukwe, the founder of the PAC, was the Chairperson of our Fort Hare Branch of the African National Congress Youth League. In that sense he was my leader during very important formative years of my life. He was never hostile to me throughout his life. We met even after he was released from jail. Although there was an attempt on my life at Mr Sobukwe's funeral in 1978, I was grateful to be invited by Bishop Mogoba and Mrs Veronica Sobukwe, to attend the unveiling of Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe's tombstone in Graaff-Reinet. I welcome all the other political leaders who have responded to my invitation. We are honoured by their presence. Their presence underscores my belief that democracy operates on the basis that even when we disagree, we do so without being disagreeable.
We need to form a national alliance for growth, prosperity and development amongst all those who are genuinely committed to generating employment and dealing with poverty. I expressed this notion in Parliament when I spoke there on the 12th of February in response to the President's State of the Nation address. Unemployment, poverty and insufficient economic growth are strangling our country. We have not yet succeeded in setting in place the conditions which can foster an accelerated economic growth. Only greater economic growth and more development can create the jobs we need. The IFP knows how to make the economy grow. Our policies have always been inspired by the need to promote economic growth. We have always put the people first. We must now rely on the skills, commitment, economic power and patriotism of anyone who is willing to participate in a national campaign for economic growth, development and reconstruction. We need to join hands and join forces to promote development, development and development, while we consolidate democracy.
We need more democracy to ensure more development. We need to empower people with greater democracy at the local level of government. We need to ensure that the promise of federalism finally unleashes the democratic potential of provinces. Now more than ever, it is important that federalism becomes the echoing call of the Inkatha Freedom Party. Provinces in South Africa are being hamstrung by the national Government and are limited in the contribution which they could make towards development. Each province knows that it could do more and better if the central Government were less centralistic and gave them more latitude. Only the Province of KwaZulu Natal has tried to exercise some of the powers to which it is entitled under the Constitution, in spite of the enormous hindrances and limitations which it receives from the central Government. We need to establish in South Africa a government which is sympathetic to the autonomy of provinces and empowers them to exercise the full measure of the role to which they are entitled under the Constitution.
A Constitution for the Province that was accepted by all the parties in KwaZulu Natal in 1996, including the ANC, was not certificated by the Constitutional Court because the ANC asked the Constitutional Court not to certify it. This was an act which we interpreted as a serious breach of faith. Even now it is not the IFP that is responsible for the fact that another constitution for the Province has not been drafted, quite contrary to the misperceptions that are bandied about in the media about this matter.
Our major responsibility towards democracy and South Africa is that of avoiding at all costs the consolidation of a one-party State. My invitation to all Party leaders underscores this conviction. Democracy can only exist when there is the possibility that those who are empowered today may be moved to the opposition tomorrow, and those who are the opposition today may become tomorrow’s government. Democracy only exists when government respects civil society and does not try to control it. Democracy is about government serving the people, not the people serving government. Democracy is about government empowering civil society to grow and prosper in autonomy, not about a government trying to control and suffocate all aspects of civil society to ensure that everything that happens in South Africa can be monitored from the centre and from a single source of power. True democracy is in place when no one owns or controls the country or is in the position of imposing a single will on the whole of the country. Democracy is when everyone has the opportunity to contribute to the free interactions of society, but no one has the power to decide for everyone else.
Against this definition of democracy, it is our responsibility to South Africa to ask ourselves whether our country is now moving towards greater democracy or less democracy. We must ask ourselves how we can best serve democracy. We must have the courage to live up to our responsibility of doing that which best serves democracy, no matter how difficult it may be. We must serve democracy not because it is the simple thing to do, but because it is the hard but right thing to do. The world is now embroiled in a great conflict which has the potential to affect all countries. Many people are trying to characterise this conflict by camouflaging its nature, pretending that it is a conflict amongst cultures or religions. Other people are trying to manipulate this conflict into a conflict between north and south or between developed countries and developing ones. In truth, this conflict is merely between the forces of democracy and those which oppose democracy.
This conflict will have a great bearing on the future of South Africa. Unfortunately, at times it seems as if our country does not clearly understand the global implications of present-day international politics nor has it positioned itself clearly and unequivocally to stand side by side with those forces which are promoting democracy and development throughout the world. It seems that the realisation has not yet dawned that only through greater democracy can there be greater development, even though in each and every country in which there is not democracy there is under-development and poverty. Our responsibility to South Africa is also that of promoting democracy at the international level and especially within our continent. We cannot allow the dreams for a Renaissance of the African continent to be hijacked by those who are not earnestly devoted to true democracy and an open society.
In my response on the 12th of February to the President's State of the Nation address in Parliament, I stated that although our police force is doing all it can to reduce the levels of crimes in the places where it was highest, that I was deeply concerned about our criminal justice system. The way it is operating is not very reassuring. I pointed out that, for example, the way the case of the murder of the mayor of Nongoma, Joseph Sikhonde, was handled left much to be desired. I pointed out that in the same year during local government elections in the year 2000, our candidate in Vosloorus, Mr Justice Radebe, was murdered in cold blood and up to now I have not heard that the suspects have been taken to court. There was no doubt in our minds that this was a political assassination.
Then an attempt was made on the life of one of my deputies as Inkosi of the Buthelezi Clan, Mr Shodoba Ndlovu, at night in his house on the 23rd of June 2001, and the case has not been taken to court up to now, although we were told that suspects had been arrested. What is worse, is that we heard that some of these suspects were the same people who had been the accused in the murder case of Mr Joseph Sikhonde. It again gave the impression that there might have been a pulling of strings which results in their cases not being taken to court. This is very concerning, particularly as there were hit lists circulating this year on which some of our prominent leaders were listed. All these things are cause for great concern. There have been other murders of some of our leaders which I have been told were also politically motivated murders. We are also worried about the taxi violence in this province, which also concerns all of us, as these taxi violence murders seem to be highest in this Province.
The IFP must face its responsibilities to democracy at all levels. It is one commitment on many fronts. We need to bring greater democracy to the structure of Government by promoting federalism. We need to bring greater democracy into the relationship between Government and civil society by promoting pluralism and ensuring that Government steps out of that which does not belong to it. We need to promote greater democracy at the international level to prevent a lack of democracy and the resulting lack of development, from strangling our dreams of an African Renaissance. We must also promote democracy within our Party. Democracy is never acquired. Democracy is a constant struggle which always lends itself to greater victories and more improvements. The job of democracy is never completed within any society or within any given government, or for that matter even within our own Party. For this reason, I have decided that I will take it upon myself to bring about greater and more vibrant democracy within our Party. I have stepped back from promoting that effort, leaving the responsibility to our Party structures. But the urgency of the matter now calls on me to take direct charge of this important function.
Last year our Annual General Conference adopted a new Constitution for our Party, which has not yet been fully implemented. There has been a great deal of resentment. Many people feel that those who hold themselves as leaders of our Party have not received sufficient internal sanction through the processes of our Constitution. I have often committed myself to ensuring that our Party only carries leaders of people and stops carrying dead wood. I am considering radical reforms which I will put to our National Council to ensure that only those who are actually leaders of people and are democratically elected, may be carried by our Party as our representatives. I want our representatives to know that I have heard their cry and their message has reached me. I will not remain inactive and I will meet their expectations.
Because this is a political conference, the actual details of what I have in mind may not be suitable for discussion at this juncture. However, I request a mandate from this Conference to move in this direction so that I can put a plan before the National Council and announce it publicly during the Annual Conference of the Youth Brigade. Our Party has a future which belongs to those who are willing to dedicate their lives to serving the people. The future of our Party is not that of carrying dead wood. The time has come to address this issue and ensure that the full strength of our Party’s potential can carry us towards an electoral victory in 2004. It is bad enough to carry dead wood in a Party, but worse of course to carry even venomous snakes, such as the turn-coats who have defected from our Party to the ANC in the KwaZulu Natal Legislature.
The IFP wins its elections at the polls, not by manipulating or subverting the electoral law. We will win the elections again in KwaZulu Natal because we are committed to the people. We will join forces with all those who are willing to provide the country with better governance, because we are committed to South Africa. South Africa is crying out for a leadership which focuses on its problems. South Africa is crying out for a government which makes unemployment and economic growth its first priorities. South Africa is crying out for a government that declares war on HIV/AIDS and takes any conceivable measure to ensure that our people stop dying. We have heard the cry of South Africa. It is our responsibility to respond to this cry.
In 2004 we will be celebrating ten years since our liberation. That time shall mark a new beginning. We need to prepare to bring optimism, courage and vision into the governance of South Africa. South Africa needs the contribution which the IFP can make in forging a new nation which is inspired by optimism and stands on its own self-reliance. We must mobilise people of goodwill in a national alliance for growth and development. The time has come for democracy to serve the needs of the people rather than the people serving the needs of those who have gained offices and positions because of democracy. First and foremost, the time has come to wage a battle on all forms of corruption.
We need to bring integrity and morality into politics. We need politics which is inspired by morality and will never again stoop to the low level of morality which has characterised the expediency of the crossing of the floor legislation. Let us commit our strength and dreams to give South Africa the hope of this new beginning. Let us join hands with anyone who is equally committed, irrespective of political allegiance. Throughout my life I have operated to bring together people who can work together. I have dedicated myself to reconciliation and unity. I have not done it because it was easy, but because it was the hard and right thing to do. I will continue to bring together those who are willing to serve true democracy in South Africa.
May the IFP rise to the challenge of defending democracy from its present threats. We will leave no stone unturned nor will we spare any effort in defending democracy. No one should fall prey to the illusion that the IFP is a political animal which can be tamed. The fire in our bellies is the very fire of democracy and is ignited and fuelled by the love we bear for South Africa. Our patriotism will take us forward. We shall stand our ground in spite of any cost and irrespective of the consequences, because even though it might be the hard thing to do, it is the right thing to do. That is all we have been about since our inception. We are not going to change now.
I want to make it clear to members of the IFP who elected me that I am not in this game for the sake of Mangosuthu Buthelezi. At the last election I made it clear that you are free to elect anyone you consider equipped better than I am to pilot this IFP ship. I agreed to continue because as you have just heard, our mission has not yet been accomplished. I stated that as long as you consider me to be your best instrument in leading you to accomplish that mission, I will be available. I thank God that I am in such good health and that I have not yet buckled under the enormous burden of leading your organisation. I could now stay at my home and enjoy my family like many people, but I will continue to hoe this hard row (to borrow the late Alan Paton's phrase in describing my leadership) as long as you want me to continue doing so. The IFP has the misfortune of being led by someone who is a target of vilification. I am sorry about that.