PRESS CONFERENCE ON THE OCCASION OF
THE LAUNCH OF THE IFP ELECTION CAMPAIGN AND
PRESENTATION OF THE IFP CHARTER FOR DEVELOPMENT 


 
OPENING REMARKS BY
MANGOSUTHU BUTHELEZI, MP
PRESIDENT OF THE INKATHA FREEDOM PARTY AND MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIRS
   

DURBAN : OCTOBER 23, 2000      

It gives me great pleasure to open in front of you today a new chapter in the history of the IFP which we hope will be significant in improving the future history of South Africa.  This new chapter is the natural continuation of the path of evolution which the IFP has walked with unique consistency and coherence since its inception 25 years ago.  Since the establishment of Inkatha, I and the structures of our then liberation movement have worked in communities and for communities, so that together we could bring about social development and human upliftment. We have never left our communities and neither have we ever forgotten them. 

We have always believed in a bottom up approach to governance and development.  We know that South Africa can only grow if development begins improving on the social and economic conditions of all our communities, especially those which are in greatest need of development.  We do not believe in top down development.  We do not believe that the development of poor communities is unimportant to the overall growth of our country, nor that their development should trickle down from the growth of more affluent sectors of our society.  

The IFP has also been the champion of a system of government which starts at grassroots level and builds up from there.  We have always championed the notion of the lower level of government being the most adequate to fulfil the needs and aspirations of our people, and to promote development.  Therefore, the establishment of a new system of local government is for us a challenge of historical dimensions.  We believe that a new system of local government will succeed in promoting development only if it accepts the philosophy of government and the commitment to community work which the IFP has espoused for the past 25 years.   

The next local government elections offer real opportunities for the people of South Africa to get it right. I am concerned that too many people are not following political debates attentively, have not registered and are giving indications of not being sufficiently interested to go and vote.  We are at the beginning of a new process and, this time around, we need to ensure that local government comes right.  It is important that the next elections strengthen the IFP across the country and provide as many local councils as possible with a strong IFP majority. Only in this fashion will issues of development and bottom up democracy firmly be tabled on the national agenda.    

We still do not know how the relationship between the central, the provincial and the local spheres of government will finally be worked out.  The new local government structures will have an important role in defining this relationship.  It is important that in this process, South Africa can count on a stronger IFP so that local government can be empowered to provide the full measure of the contribution which, undoubtedly, it has the potential to make towards development and good governance.  Unless the IFP is strengthened, the new system of local government runs the risk of being hamstrung and suffocated because of a lack of autonomy, excessive central government interference and the wrong perspective on the fundamental issues of development and community work. 

We cannot allow local government to be directed and manipulated by remote control by people who have not spent the past 25 years working in communities for their development and upliftment, and do not believe in the notion of local autonomy as the IFP does.  The IFP intends to govern local governments, rather than being an obstructive opposition in its path. The IFP intends to govern local government together with the people and their communities, and to serve their interests, not as a long arm of the central government or a piece in the conveyor belt of powers and policies which emanate from the centre.  The IFP remains the best and most important element in the complex and composite formula of the governance of South Africa at all its levels.  The stronger the IFP, the better the governance of South Africa will be. 

I am making these statements not as promises, but as a concrete plan of action. Today our campaign begins, not as an exercise in rhetoric, but as a plan of mobilisation of communities towards development.  We will not run our campaign with words, but with tangible deeds.  We will not be visible in newspapers and high profile advertisements.  But we will be visible and felt in communities.  Today, we are beginning a process which will not end on election day, but will continue after elections for many years to come.  We are not just starting an election campaign, but we are commencing our mobilisation to ensure that a new system of local government becomes what the IFP and the people expect it to be, and what South Africa so desperately needs it to be.

Often, political parties conduct their election campaign for a couple of months, saturating public opinion and public attention with catchy slogans, a plethora of words, and glamorous promises.  The IFP has never made promises which could not be kept.  We have never sought to gain support on the basis of promises.  We are not going to run our campaign by propagating words and trying to capture the hearts and minds of people with catchy and well-crafted slogans, purposely to manipulate the perceptions of people and pull the wool over their eyes.  We don't have the intention, the resources, nor the attitude to run such a type of campaign.

We will run a campaign in the best tradition of the IFP to open in this fashion a new chapter in our history which confirms that the IFP stands for development. We want our campaign to be the precursor of the developmental efforts which the
IFP will be spearheading after elections. For this reason, we will not just be running an election campaign, but from this moment forth we are engaged in a massive development campaign in which we intend to mobilise communities on the
basis of the culture of self-help and self-reliance, which we have advocated and promoted for the past 25 years. 

For a long time I have been talking about the need to bring the people of our country together in a revolution of goodwill.  This is the time to prove that that is possible.  The function of the IFP is to become the catalyst for this to happen. Communities must come together, to work together and plan together the way ahead around the issue of development.  The new local government structures should become the catalyst of communities working together, developing with their government an understanding and a long-term vision on how development can bring about better conditions of life, economic development and human upliftment for all the people of their communities. 

For this reason, I have urged all IFP candidates to become visible and engage their communities and constituencies on the issues of development. We have chosen our candidates on the basis of their capacity to bring people together, to work together on the basis of our culture of self-help and self-reliance, and for development.  We have chosen them because each of them is a revolutionary of goodwill in his or her own right.  Their purpose during the election campaign is that of bringing together people who can work with them after elections.  Their purpose is that of building bridges amongst people and within communities, not that of seeking or increasing political divisions.  The instruction I have given to all our candidates is that of mending fences, building bridges and promoting reconciliation in each and every constituency to bring people together, to work together for development.

A lot can be done by people working together, even where there are no resources. Much more can be done where there are resources, and it will be possible to do even more still when a new system of local government is in place. However, it is essential that when the new municipalities are established they hit the road and run in the right direction, which is the direction of development. We are not electing municipal councils to give jobs to a new layer of fat cats, but we have established them to create a group of leaders who can be servants of the people and work hard to create partnerships between local government and the people, to achieve a shared and consensus-based vision of local development.

The new chapter of local government must start in the right direction and on the right note. It is essential that at the outset, the importance of partnerships between government and civil society be recognised and that the need for consensus underpins how government operates.  For this reason, it is essential that a strong IFP becomes the catalyst of the rebirth of South Africa which must germinate from the ground up through the establishment of a new system of local government.  Here is where we get the chance to get it right, if we go the IFP way.  Too many things have gone wrong in the past six years because the IFP way was not chosen.  We don't need to repeat the mistakes of the past and we must learn from them.  This is the time to do it right and to do it the IFP way.

Communities should be ready to receive our candidates. Communities should be ready to expect our candidates to show up at any event or meeting in which people gather together to discuss matters of relevance to that community. Communities should prepare themselves to be engaged in the difficult and complex dialogue which must ensue around the issues of development.  Our candidates will show up at people' doors, at public meetings and during social events, not to deliver a message, but to ask a question.  They will not be there to preach, but to promote dialogue, because we do not carry the answers, but believe that the answers may be developed from within a dialogue between the next local government structures and our communities.  We will be posing to the people and posing to ourselves the simple question of what we can do together to promote development and improve on social and economic conditions in the specific context
and circumstances of each community.

We are not asking what local government alone can do.  We are not asking what any level of government can do.  What we are asking is what we can do together. We are asking about the potential and strength of the partnership which the new
local government can create between communities, institutions of civil society, business and the people, to work together at all levels to improve step by step on the social and economic conditions of all. Our vision of development is a vision which benefits all.  In order to benefit all, we need to start from the bottom.  We do not believe in the notion of benefiting all in which prosperity trickles down from the rich to the poor.

I am unleashing an army of revolutionaries of goodwill into our communities.  They carry my instruction of becoming agents of development and leaders of progress. If they fail this task, they fail me.  If any of them does not live up to the expectations I have for each and every one of them, their political career in the Party will be short-lived.  We want the new system of local government to start on the right foot and this requires selecting people who are genuinely dedicated to public service and do not seek public office for their own sake or for personal ambition.  Each of our candidates will be carrying our Charter for Development which is the framework within which the IFP intends to move to promote development.

This Charter for Development will need to be adjusted to the local conditions and needs of each community.  Through a dialogue between our candidates and each community, our candidates will have the responsibility to understand and identify
how our Charter for Development can be implemented within their specific community.  We want them to undertake this exercise so that when they begin their term of office of the 6th of December, they know exactly in which direction to move because they have received a clear mandate from the community.  In the next 50 days until election day, we will not be electioneering in the proper sense, but we will be canvassing the mandate of the people through dialogue on the substantive issues of development. 

We want quiet and intense discussions on how the job is to be done after elections.  We want the people to recognise that the IFP is the party they can trust, because we work for them, not because we know how to make ourselves look good.  We have worked in communities for 25 years and got our hands dirty by working with people in the trenches.  I myself have lived all my life in rural areas among the poorest of the poor.  I know their plight and I know their suffering, and throughout my entire political career everything I have done has been about developing the country and making it more prosperous. I worked with black workers in Durban in the 70's as Chancellor of the Institute for Industrial Education, with Professor Lawrence Schlemmer.  It was this very work that I did amongst workers championing their cause before Africans were allowed to join
trade unions, which earned me, jointly with the late Dr Neil Aggett, the George Meany Human Rights Award, from the largest trade union in the democratic world, the AFL-CIO in the United States.  I participated with my Minister of Interior the
late Barney Dladla, in the 1973 Durban strikes which was a turning point in labour relations in this country. 

Prosperity can only be for all.  The country is not doing well.  Our economy is not doing well.  We have lost hundreds of thousands of jobs and unemployment is becoming rampant.  Crime is becoming rampant, feeding on poverty and abject
social and economic conditions.  This has been caused in no small part by people who have forgotten the importance of development and have put economic growth and stringent economic policies as second items on the national agenda.  The time has come to turn it around.  In this election the possibility exists to give the country a new beginning, otherwise we are bound to have nothing but more of the same.  We can no longer afford more of the same, for economic recession, escalating crimes, inflation and deteriorating social and economic conditions are no longer fears of things which may happen, but have become the horrifying and dramatic reality of the present we live in.  We must place development at the top of the agenda and the local government elections is the place and the opportunity to do it.  We must make development the most important national priority, and strengthening the IFP is the way to do it.  This time around we must do it right. This time around we must do it the right way.  This time around we must do it the IFP way.

I thank you.

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