IFP Meeting With The Community of Umlazi
Address By Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP
President Of The Inkatha Freedom Party


 

Umlazi: 21 August 2011 

 

 

I thank you for inviting me to visit you, post the 2011 Local Government Elections. I welcome the opportunity to come to Umlazi to thank you for your support in the elections, and for your ongoing commitment to the IFP.

 

The 18 May elections saw the governance of Umlazi shift from the IFP into the hands of a coalition. It was not a painless shift, and it was not born of a change of heart in Umlazi. Rather, it came on the back of a split vote engineered by the NFP, and brought a leadership that you never asked for. It has changed the mandate of the IFP, but it has not changed our commitment to work in Umlazi, with Umlazi, for Umlazi. After all, we still have thousands of members and supporters in Umlazi.

 

On the 18th of May, South Africa spoke through the ballot box and asked the IFP to take up a new mantle of opposition politics. We were shed of most of the responsibilities of governance, freeing us up to engage a no-holds barred opposition to the mounting deficiencies and wrongs in our country's government. The IFP is no longer pulled between governing and being a watchdog over governance. We have one goal and one focus. We are intent on holding your leadership accountable.

 

South Africa has asked the IFP to become its champion of opposition politics because of our strength. This is no second fiddle role. In fact, the Local Government Election results saw the IFP regaining our position as the third largest political party in the country. Across South Africa more than a million votes of support were cast for the IFP, 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.

 

The idea that our role is diminishing, as all doomsayers are suggesting, is therefore ridiculous. We are changing our mandate, but we are not changing our ideals. Our principles remain unchanged. Our values are uncompromised. The IFP remains the party of integrity; a leadership that you can trust. I am pleased that our relationship continues in Umlazi. I know there are those who feel disenchanted with what happened here and the way in which the ANC was brought in through a coalition partnership. For your sake, the IFP will keep vigilant watch over this coalition. We will not allow all we have accomplished together to be damaged by any corruption or inefficiency.

 

I am also aware that, like in all other parties, there was some dissatisfaction with the choice of candidate here. I am not trying to deny responsibility as the leader of this Party. But it was decided not to involve me in the Candidate Selection Committee. So I had no idea whatsoever of what happened in this case. But I learnt that the Candidate Selection Committee was advised by the local leadership as much as possible.

 

It really pains me when I hear all sorts of stories in some of our constituencies where the choice of the members was ignored and allegations that some individual leaders manipulated the process and misguided the Candidate Selection Committee in some instances. If this is true, it is regrettable. And I wish to apologise to our members, even though I was not personally involved. This has compounded our problems. I wish to appeal to you; please, let us be more vigilant next time. We should not cry over spilt milk. Let us look at how we can avoid these pitfalls during the forthcoming 2014 general election.

 

I know that many families in Umlazi are struggling. Just last month more than a dozen homes were flooded because of poor construction. These RDP houses were built under a tender contract worth R328 million. The company that won the tender is under investigation for its shoddy work. Some houses are in danger of falling apart and are hardly safe for habitation. Shortly before the Local Government Elections, the Department of Human Settlements revealed that many of the RDP houses that had been built across South Africa were so poorly constructed that it would cost approximately R58 billion to make them habitable.

 

This is unacceptable. We are far from having reached our constitutional target of providing adequate housing for all. But instead of building more houses, we have to fix the ones already built. This is the fruit of corrupt tender practices and maladministration. The IFP believes that housing should be allocated in a transparent and orderly manner that is easily understood by all.

 

We also believe in proper planning and management of hostels and informal settlements. Thus we will not relent in applying pressure on Government to improve the subhuman conditions of many hostels. We believe hostels should be converted from dormitory style accommodation into self-contained units that can accommodate single people or families. Such units must be affordable, have basic services and be integrated into the broader community.

 

We intend to hold government in Umlazi to account for what it does and does not do for you. Umlazi was one of 19 hung municipalities after the Local Government Elections. The ANC did not win a clear majority, and neither did the NFP. But the NFP and ANC went into coalition to run the 19 municipalities, giving Umlazi an ANC-NFP government. The NFP declared this was 'the will of the people', yet it is not what you asked for on the 18th of May.

 

In fact, even NFP Councillors were disenchanted with the coalition that their leadership had formed. In Umlalazi, the NFP's representatives rejected the ANC-NFP coalition and voted for an IFP municipal leadership. The IFP won a mayoral seat because NFP Councillors voted for the IFP instead of the ANC. But they were quickly brought into line. In a show of strength, the ANC sent some of its big names to Umlalazi to promote the ANC-NFP coalition. That meeting deteriorated into a mudslinging exercise, as ANC events are wont to do.

 

You will recall how the Premier of Gauteng, the Honourable Ms Nomvula Nonkonyana, came to Umlazi T-Section last month for the ANC's Siyabonga Rally and called the IFP 'a dead snake'. Tensions were already running high, and such comments were grossly irresponsible. I am amazed that the NFP is now blaming me for violence, claiming that I launched an attack on the ANC-NFP coalition two weekends ago.

 

Two weekends ago, I was speaking at the national elective conference of SADESMO, here in Umlazi, and I said the same things I have been saying for months; things that I said in the national House of Parliament on the 15th of February. I gave a detailed account of the collusion between the ANC and the NFP in Parliament and produced sworn statements. The leader of the ANC did not deny the facts I put to him in Parliament. It is therefore ridiculous that the NFP leadership wants me to unsay what I said in Parliament when the leadership of the ANC did not refute a single one of the facts that I put before Parliament in February.

 

I have challenged the NFP to read the official transcript of my remarks in Parliament and point out one single sentence in which I instructed or encouraged our supporters to violence. They will not find it, because it isn't there. I abhor violence. I believe in engaging problems through negotiation, not through the barrel of the gun. My entire legacy stands as testimony to this truth.  I was vilified throughout the world for not embracing the armed struggle.

 

I felt it important that I address this issue as I come here today, for I am deeply concerned by the bloodshed that continues in KwaZulu Natal and Gauteng. Lives are still being lost to violence, and tensions must be addressed. I have called for a meeting between the leadership of the IFP and the NFP to talk seriously about this issue and ensure that it is resolved. The violence must stop. The accusations and slanders and mudslinging have to end. It is wrong of the NFP to keep dragging my name into the violence. They know me. They know I am not involved.  I uphold the ideals of non-violence and negotiations which the founding fathers of the ANC upheld when the ANC was founded in January 1912.

 

I have come here today with a challenge to Umlazi. There is a great deal of energy and passion in this community. Your political allegiance runs deep. Some feel angry about the coalition, some feel frustrated at the IFP's loss. Most of you are worried about the future. I challenge you to channel all of this into mobilizing support for a strong opposition. The IFP has become the champion of opposition politics. As you strengthen the IFP, you strengthen your own voice in governance.

 

Let us stop the violence in our communities and turn it into a political revolution. Not the kind of revolution that the ANC Youth League spouts, that will see our economy destroyed through nationalization, and national unity decimated through land grabs. But the kind of revolution that the IFP has been preaching for decades; a revolution of the people of goodwill. There are too many social evils plaguing South Africa. Corruption has become endemic.

 

When Inkatha led the erstwhile KwaZulu Government, not one single allegation of corruption was ever leveled against our administration. And we did not spend one cent on self-promotion. The same was the case when the province was run by the IFP after 1994. We didn't spend taxpayers' money on media communications and PR exercises. It was never about looking good. It was about being good; at governance, at leadership and development. It was about building houses, clinics and schools; about providing healthcare and banking services. It was about protecting citizens, empowering small businesses, assisting farmers, feeding families, creating jobs and seeking peace.

 

I find it interesting that the ANC wants a state-sponsored newspaper entirely dedicated to promoting the achievements of our ANC-led Government. Every day we open the papers and see stories of corrupt officials, corrupt tender practices, maladministration, service delivery protests, price hikes and strikes. Reality cannot be changed by hiding it under the carpet, and it cannot be overshadowed by flooding us with feel-good stories. Reality can only be changed by people of goodwill strengthening those with the courage and integrity to call for change.

 

The IFP has always spoken truth to power. We have no fear of pointing out corruption or exposing the inefficiencies of Government. Our courage comes from our integrity. Our sense of responsibility to what is true and right and just, will not allow us to keep silent when we witness corruption. For seventeen years the IFP has pointed out weaknesses in leadership and poor policy directions. We have not done this to embarrass anyone or to make ourselves look good. We do it because of our commitment to making South Africa work. We believe you deserve more and better. It makes no sense to emphasize our people's poverty in one breath, and at the same time steal from the poor through corruption that involves even ministers.

 

Thus the IFP will keep working for you. For the sake of the many who voted for the IFP, and for the sake of those who will suffer poor leadership because they did not, the IFP will keep working and serving and leading. I ask you to strengthen us on the road ahead. There is a tendency in African culture to support leaders just because they are leaders. That is not the way of true democracy. Democracy demands that you choose the leaders you believe will best serve your needs and represent your interests, and that you then hold them accountable for doing it. If they fail, you switch your vote.

 

I therefore encourage you to watch the ANC-NFP coalition carefully. You may not have given them your vote, but they now carry the responsibility of serving you. That does not automatically grant them a right to your allegiance. Don't become despondent and think that you are stuck with these leaders forever. It is up to you to hold them accountable. It is up to you to strengthen the opposition. And it is up to you to vote them out if they fail to serve Umlazi.

 

That is your responsibility. Our responsibility is to keep making your voice heard. The IFP will be a vocal opposition. We will be loud, direct and honest. We will absorb all the passion and energy in Umlazi, and channel it into strengthening the voice of the people within government. You should not be told what you need. Your government should be asking you. The IFP believes in governance from the bottom up; not dictatorship, centralization or a one-party state.

 

We are entering a new era of the IFP. In two months time we will convene at our national elective conference and concretize our plans for the future. There is still a great deal of work ahead of us before conference. We must ensure that our structures are functioning well and our branches have been audited. Even though the Local Government Elections are over, and even though the NFP has broken away and formed a coalition with the ANC, there are still plans afoot to destroy our Party.

 

I say this with a heavy heart and I measure my words carefully. I am aware of clandestine meetings and subterfuge aimed at dividing the IFP. We are not a spent political force, as our detractors like to pretend. We are a serious threat to political hegemony in South Africa. We stand as an obstacle to anyone who wants to weaken democracy, tinker with the Constitution or subvert the rule of law. We were the voice of conscience in the Government of National Unity. We were the voice of reason in the government of President Mbeki. We have been the voice of integrity under President Zuma. Now the IFP is the voice of opposition.

 

Ours is the voice of the people of South Africa who feel they have been ignored when they cried out for jobs, homes, education, security and moral leadership. We are the voice of the people who have not been fooled; the people who know that our government could have and should have done better by now. The IFP speaks on your behalf. We do it with your mandate and your support. Thank you for keeping faith with the IFP. Thank you for supporting me and my Party.

 

Things may have changed in Umlazi this year. But the IFP's commitment to serving you will never change. Together, we can secure the future. 

 

I thank you.