IFP Extended National Council Meeting
Address by Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP
President Of The Inkatha Freedom Party

   

 

Ulundi: 21 August 2010

 

There has been a serious turn of events in the IFP which has caused me to request the National Executive Committee to call an Extended National Council. The issues at hand go beyond the authority of the NEC or the National Council, and can only properly be discussed in an Extended National Council in which our constituencies and districts are also represented. I therefore thank you for heeding the call to meet so that we may address what is becoming a grim situation with the potential for disaster.

 

The time has come for me to talk directly to the people. Over the past two decades, I have been waiting for the opportunity to resolve the unfinished business between the ANC and the IFP. Before the April 2009 elections, President Zuma himself mentioned that this outstanding business must be completed. Again this year, before he travelled to Brazil, he gave us the assurance that he would meet with me upon his return. That meeting never took place as the President was unavailable. Before his State visit to Britain he repeated his assurances, but again we did not meet.

 

When he invited me to King's House on 16 July this year, President Zuma expressed his regret that we have not yet come together to discuss the unfinished business between the ANC and IFP which flows from the conflicts of the eighties and nineties. I too regret that we have not seen that wound completely healed for lack of interaction at the highest level, and I have made myself available every day, at any time, to wind up this serious unfinished business.

 

I am therefore deeply concerned by what we are seeing in terms of the ANC's involvement in the anarchy and ructions in our Party. This development does not bode well for our final reconciliation and it muddies the waters between our two parties. There has been a string of incidents that leave no room for the benefit of the doubt. There is no longer any doubt that certain people in the ANC are fomenting and even instigating the ructions in our Party.

 

I have openly expressed my concern and ire over the scurrilous behaviour of the ANC's Minister Tokyo Sexwale, who came to this Province and publically announced that we as the leadership of the IFP are persecuting our National Chairperson, Mrs VZ Magwaza-Msibi. On 10 February this year, SABC News quoted Minister Sexwale, speaking at the ANC's 98th Anniversary Celebration, as saying, "She must know that we love her and she must come back home to the ANC. She is being ill-treated in the IFP." This lie, spoken by a national Minister, received credibility in the media and the public eye.

 

The ANC Women's League was quick to jump on the bandwagon, confirming the lie and disingenuously offering Mrs Magwaza-Msibi their sympathy and succour. The Women's League's Provincial Chairperson, Ms Lungi Gcabashe, was quoted in the Sowetan on 4 February as saying, "There is only one conclusion to be drawn from the IFP's decision to redeploy its chairperson, which is that there is no place for women in the IFP". This despite the fact that our Chairperson's redeployment was a promotion from the third tier level of government, to the second. 

Gcabashe added the lie that "Scores of brilliant women have left the IFP" citing "limited room for growth and a general lack of respect".

 

Despite our Party's impeccable record of promoting gender equality and women's rights, people fell hook, line and sinker for the lie that the IFP is sexist. Suddenly the ructions in the Party were put down to our supposed fear of having a woman lead the Party. This is both ridiculous and defamatory.

 

All of you are witness to the fact that it was I and all of you in the Party who during the general election proposed the name of Mrs kaMagwaza-Msibi as the IFP's candidate for the position of Premier of the Province of KwaZulu Natal. It was the first time that anyone's face was used during an election as a candidate for the position of Premier since 1994. In spite of all our efforts, our votes in the Province fell to the lowest level that they have ever reached in all the previous elections.

 

All of you are aware of all that has transpired in the Party since the general election of last year. There were many of our candidates for the KwaZulu Natal Legislature who could not go to the Legislature owing to the few votes we received. It is extraordinary that most of the people who have started ructions in the Party are some of our members who failed, as a result of the few votes, to go to the Legislature and to Parliament.

 

The ANC's commentary on the IFP's business has begun to flow thick and fast. Our National Council resolved in July to postpone Conference after it became clear that Conference would be marred by violence. 

Apart from the threat of violence, many of our branches, constituencies and districts were still not inaugurated. Following our decision, the Provincial Secretary of the ANC Youth League in KwaZulu Natal, Mr Bheki Mtolo, delivered a scathing attack.

 

On 20 July 2010, The Star quoted Mtolo as saying: "The IFP is not a democratic organization but a traditional cultural movement led by a dictator." He went on to say about me that, "This man has deliberately postponed the conference because he fears that he might be voted out." 

Mtolo accused me of "dirty tricks" and invited the youth of the IFP and "everyone else who believes in democratic principles to leave the IFP and join the ANC."

 

And hot on the heels of Mtolo's attack, the KwaZulu Natal Provincial Secretary of COSATU, Mr Zet Luzipho issued a statement on 26 July, which was published on COSATU's website and released to the media, in which he pontificates over why our National Council took the decision to postpone Conference, despite the fact that we had clearly stated our reasons. In his statement, Luzipho lavishes praise on the President of the country for his intention to meet with me, warning us that we should "welcome such intervention which is aimed at ensuring that the IFP continues to exist?". The President, says Luzipho, is the one person who understands succession battles and we should respect the process as he tries to broker peace within the IFP. We should appreciate the President's intervention.

 

Luzipho then launched into an outrageous attack on me, pontificating over personal family matters and drawing judgment on me for owning a gun. My life has been threatened countless times, often by people in the tripartite alliance. Yet Luzipho claims that, because of my age, I should be barred from owning a weapon. He pleads with the police to refuse me a gun license in the future, failing which he threatens to lodge a formal complaint. Why is he so intent on disarming me immediately after the National Police Commissioner has warned of assassination threats against an unnamed IFP leader?

 

The National Commissioner has even added two more officers to my security team, confirming the rising threats even to my own life. The National Commissioner came to see me in my office, accompanied by the Provincial Commissioner of the South African Police Service.

 

Luzipho's commentary was shocking to say the least. The IFP Youth Brigade and SADESMO took the ANC Youth League to task for interfering in our internal business. In response, also on the 26th of July, Mr Bheki Mtolo was quoted in the Daily News as saying, "As the alliance we are the leaders of this country. We lead everybody, including the IFP. That is why we have a right to comment on their affairs, but they cannot do the same about us because they are not our leaders."

 

Words cannot begin to describe how utterly outrageous the ANC's interference had become. We hoped it was limited to a few hotheads and would soon simmer down. But just recently, during Women's Week, during a sitting of the KwaZulu Natal Legislature, Members of the ANC began singing derogatory songs about me, calling me by my pet name, as ANC cadres did during the internecine war of the eighties to goad me and insult me. These ANC Members in the Legislature sang, "Gatsha is afraid of a woman" and "Zanele belongs to us". This did not take place in the streets or in a shebeen, but in the corridors of power by people who are supposed to lead our nation.

 

One young member of the IFP was angered by this singing and it became necessary to stop a serious altercation. Later the Members of the ANC present confronted a member of our National Council, the Mayor of Jozini, Mrs Mthethwa, who is the Secretary of the Women's Brigade and of the NEC, asking her which camp she belongs to. There was an ugly scene, which Mrs Mthethwa will elaborate for us further.

 

All these incidents point to the ANC or a section of the ANC being involved in stirring trouble in our Party. There have been all sorts of talk that the ructions in the IFP pivot around the need for change. 

But it has been clear from who is involved and what they are doing that the motives behind all these problems are self-interest, ambition and greed. And now we have seen enough to convince us that certain people at the highest level of the ANC are involved in creating and fomenting these ructions.

 

There is an underlying sinister message, which we ignore at our own peril; far from closing the chapter on the ANC-IFP conflict which cost so many lives during the low intensity civil war, the ANC is continuing the conflict. I do not say this as an accusation meant to stir up tensions. The tensions are clearly already there. I am saying this because it is time to speak openly, and acknowledge that the ANC is deliberately aggravating the problems in our Party in the hope of destroying their old enemy, the IFP.

 

We know that there are people within the IFP and people from outside our Party who are on the ANC's payroll to stir up trouble for the Party. This is not just a conflict between IFP members. It is engineered by members of the ANC who are using money to bribe and corrupt. This is not a game. People have died. And in all likelihood more violence will follow if we are not able to resolve our problems before holding Conference. Matters have become very serious indeed.

 

In order for us to resolve the tensions and heal the divisions, we must clear the air regarding our National Chairperson. Let me put on record again that our National Chairperson, Mrs KaMagwaza-Msibi, has not been charged before any disciplinary structure of the Party. A resolution was passed on 10 July 2010 to launch an internal investigation to determine whether there is any connection between our National Chairperson and the people who have done so much harm to our Party in her name; the "Friends of VZ". This investigation was deemed necessary for several reasons.

 

In a public statement published on the first of March this year, our National Chairperson distanced herself from the activities of the "Friends of VZ", admonishing them for dividing the Party and threatening legal action if they did not desist. But the divisive activities of the "Friends of VZ" continued. They still produced T-shirts bearing her image, with the slogan "VZ 100%". They still held meetings, rallies and protests in her name. They still spread lies to the media. They disrupted elective meetings of our Party, and even engaged in violence and murder. Through all this, our National Chairperson did not seek to stop them through legal action as she claimed she would.

 

For this reason, faced with the seriousness of the matter, National Council decided that an investigation should be launched. I have given our National Chairperson several opportunities to clear her name, but she declined to do so. We felt that, given the damaging nature of the assumptions being made both in the Party and in the media, it is necessary for us to assist the National Chairperson to speak openly within the structures of the Party, so that we may find a way forwards to renewed unity.

 

Rather than improving, we are seeing a deterioration of discipline within the Party, which also begs us to deal swiftly with these problems. People continue to transgress against our Constitution, rejecting legitimate structures and preferring to air their views in the public spotlight. Several weeks ago SABC News covered a protest march in Johannesburg where the "Friends of VZ" rallied against my leadership. But many of the protestors in their "100% VZ" T-shirts were bussed in from Durban and Pietermaritzburg, to give the impression that our structures in Gauteng are seeking my resignation.

 

This is not the case. Our members in Gauteng have already indicated where they stand, and they have done so through the appropriate structures. At our last Extended National Council, Mr Ngobese conveyed the decision of the Gauteng National Council on these issues. His report expressed their support for my continued leadership. There is no doubt that the wellspring of all the commotion is Durban.

 

Last week Isolezwe carried a story about a meeting of the Women's Brigade in the Durban Metro. Instead of attending a prayer meeting organized by their NEC, some women held a meeting at Dalton Hostel on the 9th of August during which they made utterances to the effect that they are sick and tired of my leadership, and that I should now make way for the National Chairperson. It is not clear who these women were speaking for. Their structure was dismantled after elections and they have no right to claim legitimacy as a structure or to speak on behalf of the Party. This was an act of rebellion.

 

I want to open an opportunity for those who support them to speak to us today and declare their view within this structure. Have the guts to say to our faces what they are saying behind our backs. Let us gauge where people really stand, so the truth may prevail.

 

I am told that in a meeting of the 15th in Dalton, Mrs Bongi Mtshali, who is also known as Mrs Gwala and Mrs Angel Mthembu, was told that the NEC of the Province had already charged her and she was advised not to attend. Her case was decided in her absence. Rebellion continues and our image is being destroyed. How can we just sit back and do nothing? So the PEC of the Province had to deal with the matter.

 

Last month I received a letter signed by people who claim to represent the Durban Metro constituencies, stating that I must have someone receive their memorandum at our offices. People are being schooled in Durban to demonstrate against their own party. This is unheard of. 

When these demonstrations first started, our Secretary General was insulted and placards were put up saying that I should retire. But the situation has deteriorated into something far more serious.

 

Since we last met, there have been more deaths in Estcourt. Last week, also in Estcourt, IFP supporters were attacked with R1 rifles. Their car was a write-off and they incurred some injury; but thanks God they survived. There is no denying that the situation is getting worse. We need to attend to these matters before we meet at Conference. We cannot have serene discussions at Conference with all this hanging in the air. The future of our Party is at stake.

 

There have been attempts by the "Friends of VZ" to force us to hold Conference before we have dealt with these problems. On the 16th of July 2010 an urgent application was heard in the Durban High Court under case number 7768/2010. It was brought by Sibusiso Lukhele and seven others in an attempt to interdict the IFP to proceed with an elective conference on the 23rd to 25th of July. The Honourable Madame Justice Dhaya Pillay dismissed the application with costs against the applicants, making it clear in her Judgment that the IFP's Constitution does not impose any obligation to hold an elective conference.

 

Four days later, Mr Wiseman Mcoyi and three others brought another urgent application in the Pietermaritzburg High Court, under case number 5449/2010. Once again the application was brought as an interdict to force the IFP to hold an elective conference, and attacked the validity of our National Council. The matter was heard by the Honourable Mr Justice Msimang Judge President, who refused to allocate a date for the hearing and ordered that the matter be postponed sine die. The parties were directed to return to court on the 3rd of September to approach the senior civil judge to arrange a date for a hearing. That in itself will delay any of the efforts we are making to have a date for the Conference as our very status is under question.

 

The "Friends of VZ" are trying to force our hand while we are at a weak point. It is clear that if we contest the 2011 Local Government Elections in our present condition, the IFP is going to be wiped off the political map. I cannot overemphasise the importance of resolving these tensions before our Conference, to allow Conference to focus on our preparedness for the 2011 elections. We have an enormous task ahead of us to mobilise support and secure votes. In many ways, we are lagging behind on the campaign trail and we need to step up our activities in terms of canvassing support, arranging meetings, organising transport and getting the IFP message into communities.

 

Our problems have generated a great deal of negative publicity and we are going to have work twice as hard to capture the votes. But I believe we have what it takes to produce a strong showing at the polls, provided that we are able to overcome the divisions we face right now and create unity in the Party again. The IFP can emerge from this dark night as a stronger Party. It is within our power to make a comeback. These are not just empty words. I have sat at the helm of this Party for 35 years. I am quite aware what we are capable of.

 

I put before this Extended National Council the challenge of plotting a way forward. We can no longer ignore the fact that there are puppet-masters outside the Party pulling the strings of the "Friends of VZ". They are doing it with money and they are doing it to destroy us. What will we do with this knowledge? How can we navigate a peaceful way out of this situation? At all costs, we must avoid fuelling tensions between the IFP and the ANC. We cannot allow ourselves to be goaded into retaliation.

 

It was partly for this reason that I asked for an appointment this past week with the Deputy President of the ANC, who is also the Deputy President of the country, His Excellency Kgalema Motlanthe, to inform him about this involvement of some members of the ANC in dividing and destroying the IFP. I told the Deputy President of the ANC that I do not believe that there has been a decision taken by the ANC to do this to me and the IFP. He confirmed this to me. In fact, he was not even aware that the President of the ANC, His Excellency Mr Jacob Zuma, had called me to meet with him in Durban on the 16th of July.

 

He was not aware of the utterances by Minister Tokyo Sexwale. The Deputy President was also not aware of the accusation that was made by the ANC Women's League that we are persecuting our National Chairperson. He was quite shaken when I also related to him what members of the ANC's Women's League did at the Women's Sitting of the KwaZulu Natal Legislature on the 8th of July in Mtuba. He was also not aware of the large sums of money that some ANC businessmen are making available to the "Friends of VZ" to cause the havoc that is taking place in the IFP. Some of these businessmen were involved in the "Friends of JZ" during the Polokwane happenings in the ANC.

 

I explained to the Deputy President that I felt I should brief him about all that is going on and the role that some members of the ANC, including very senior leaders in this Province, are playing in creating the rifts and ructions in the IFP.

 

The other reason why I had to brief the Deputy President of the ANC is because he had on more than one occasion expressed his commitment to dealing with the unfinished business between the ANC and the IFP after our internecine conflict in the eighties and nineties which cost more than 20,000 black lives. The Deputy President was not aware that the blood-letting within the IFP has cost us some lives. The Deputy President promised that they were going to deal with the matter.

 

It is now clear where the "Friends of VZ" get the funding which they have used in creating the problems we now have within the IFP. One asks what these members of the ANC who are involved in destroying the Party and our legacy are hoping to receive in return for the moral support and the financial support that they are giving to the "Friends of VZ".

 

The prospect of the bloodshed that has started is extremely worrying in view of so many lives that we lost during the low intensity civil war that took place between members of the UDF and ANC on the one hand, and members of the IFP. It is because of this turn of events that we have decided to call this Extended National Council meeting as we believe the matter has gone much further than can be dealt with by the National Council or the NEC.

 

One may ask the question why we do not wait until the Conference is convened. The scale of the damage that is taking place, including loss of lives, has forced us to call this meeting in which representatives of the Party's structures are present. At the same time, our very legitimacy as these structures of the Party is being questioned before Court and there is no prospect of the case being heard before October at the earliest. We could not wait for that, and that is why we have decided to seek our collective wisdom and our collective responsibility at our level of leadership and at the level of the leadership of our Party.

 

There is a remark I have always made, that in the long history of conflicts between us and the ANC, some of the ANC leaders and some of the members of the ANC in this Province have always been vicious. This explains why most of the deaths during that black-on-black low intensity civil war took place in this Province. It is difficult to explain the intense hatred that they harbour, which fuels this bitter conflict. It is a mystery to me what joy they hope to derive from all of these things, except the pleasure of destroying the IFP and destroying the leadership of Mangosuthu Buthelezi, their sworn enemy.

 

It is a shame that, after we lost so many leaders and members in the previous conflict, members of the IFP should allow themselves to be puppets that are being used to destroy the Party and our legacy. I wish to conclude this particular issue by paying special tribute to those leaders of the ANC, together with some of the ordinary members of the ANC, who have nothing to do with these underhanded and divisive activities by other leaders and members of the ANC.

 

Members are free to interrogate the issues I have brought to the attention of this meeting. But it seems to me that the nub of the problem is whether we as a Party should accept leadership which is being imposed on us by those leaders and members of the ANC who are involved in financing and arming the "Friends of VZ", who are merely their front. For decades some of the members and leaders of the ANC in this Province have attempted to destroy the leadership and membership of this Party through arms in the black-on-black low intensity civil war. Now they are trying to do so by imposing the leadership they are manipulating with money and arms.

 

We are the survivors and the children of survivors of the low intensity civil war that raged between the ANC and the IFP during apartheid. The loss of lives is still a scar on our memories. We cannot allow a conflict to escalate that would place in jeopardy the peace that we so painstakingly forged in KwaZulu Natal. It has been a difficult decision for me to broach this subject, knowing that by bringing it out into the open the IFP will attract criticism and anger. But there is no benefit to be gained from the pretence that the troubles we face are all from within. If we are serious about resolving the situation, we must be honest about what it entails.

 

I ask this Extended National Council to deliberate on these matters and to engage in serene debate. We are all frustrated and emotions are running high. But we must not be ruled by our emotions. The resolution of these problems demands clear-headedness. It demands that we talk about possible solutions, rather than dwelling on who said what to whom. The survival of the IFP depends on our finding a way forward that not only unites our Party, but protects the stability of our nation.

 

This is the challenge before us.