Meeting With The Johannesburg District
Address By Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP
President of the Inkatha Freedom Party

 

 

 

George Goch Stadium: 24 July 2011

 

I thank you members of the IFP in Gauteng for the good decision that I should come up so that we can together look at the post local election's scene. That we should look at what happened to us as a Party, and at why it happened.

 

The political landscape has shifted since the 18th of May and there has been much speculation over what the electoral result means for our country's future. A clear message was sent to the ruling Party that the electorate is no longer enamoured with the way the ANC is governing. The role of opposition politics gained support as votes for the DA increased across the board. Cope was replaced as the third largest political party by the IFP, as we regained our position as number 3 nationally according to election results. These were all positive developments which bode well for democracy. But not all the news was good.

 

We cannot pretend that we do not feel the pain of losing so much ground in the 2011 Local Government Elections. In the past five years, the IFP has run 32 municipalities in KwaZulu Natal and we did so with all the dedication, integrity and experience that the IFP is known for. Yet we emerged from the elections with only 2 municipalities. This has changed the course of the IFP. The electoral result shed us of most of our responsibilities of governance, freeing us to pursue a more powerful opposition role, both in KwaZulu Natal and nationally.

 

Looking at what happened against the background of the predictions of all the pundits, amongst whom I mention the so-called political analysts, the hostile media, the amount of money that bankrolled the NFP, and the predominance of brown envelope journalism, we still survived.  We as a Party are still alive and kicking.  This in spite of the fact that there were concerted efforts to destroy our Party by some amongst the most powerful people in this country.  And in spite of the fact that we did not have even a fraction of the resources that were used by all the combined forces, to counter the agenda to split our Party.  The obituary of our Party was a prominent feature, of all that was said by the doomsayers who wrote about our imminent demise, as a factor in South African politics.  Today's gathering is evidence of the fact that we are still players in spite of all the losses that we sustained in the May 18th election.  We may be battered but we are not yet dead as was predicted.

 

I came to the City of Johannesburg before the election campaign got underway to speak to you frankly about what was happening in the IFP. We discussed the difficulties caused by the "Friends of VZ" and the divisions engineered by our former National Chairperson, with the support of some leaders in the ANC. We considered the then recent formation of the NFP and voiced our concern over the potential for a split vote, which we had seen happen in Estcourt and Eshowe during by-elections, when the NFP put forward its independent candidates, and handed those municipalities to the ANC.  Exactly what we saw coming happened.  Our municipalities were handed on a platter to the ANC by the NFP.

 

Now the writing is on the wall. There is no longer a need for speculation or suspicions. May 18th told us everything we needed to know, proving that the NFP and the ANC were indeed co-conspirators in the attempted destruction of the IFP. In the end, they did split the vote and created 19 hung municipalities in KwaZulu Natal. The message from the electorate was that the IFP was still needed and trusted, but the NFP had brought an element of uncertainty. What the electorate did not ask for was an ANC takeover.

 

If the people had wanted the ANC, the ANC would have won an outright majority. They did not. But one municipality after the next, was handed to them on a silver platter by the NFP, who prided themselves on being named the "kingmaker" after the May 18th elections. The ANC-NFP coalition was inevitable. It was payback for the ANC's support, and brought Mrs kaMagwaza-Msibi closer to the kind of power she seeks. So although the electorate did not ask for an ANC local government in many of the municipalities that were hung, in which we had most votes, they got it. And although people who voted for the NFP did not ask to get into bed with the ANC, that's where they were taken. To my mind, that is not democracy.

When the will of the people is disregarded for political expediency, democracy is perverted. There were ructions when members of the NFP approached the IFP, stating their revulsion against the idea of operating with the ANC in a coalition.  A lot of pressure had to be exerted on them and they were threatened with expulsions, if they voted with the IFP as they intended to do.

 

Our political opponents and the media pundits were quick to jump to the conclusion that the IFP was finished. Somehow they assumed that governance was the soul of the IFP; that if we were not in government, we would lose our purpose. But the truth is that the soul of the IFP is in the service of our nation, whatever form that might take. At this juncture, the needs of South Africa demand that the IFP take up the challenge of opposition politics, even more strongly than has been the case in the 17 years of our democratic era. As South Africa grows closer and closer to the ANC's final goal of political hegemony and domination, a powerful voice of opposition is needed; a voice that speaks with integrity and fearlessness, with honesty and insight.

 

That is the voice of the IFP. We have spent years navigating the waters of governance, from the rapids of social need to the brackish streams of bureaucracy. We know what can be done and how to do it. We know what cannot be done and how to be honest about it. The IFP has not lost sight of its mandate. In fact, if anything, the Local Government Elections have cleared the waters and clarified the mandate of the IFP. We must once again focus on providing moral leadership and a voice of reason, to redirect South Africa's moral compass to true north.

 

This we must do for the sake of the many who cast their vote for the IFP on May the 18th, and the many who will suffer deteriorating leadership because they did not. As I speak to the City of Johannesburg District, I am cognisant of the fact that we maintained support in Ward 65 and that many IFP supporters went to the polls to vote for the IFP. As the President of this Party, I thank you for your support. I thank you for remaining faithful to the ideals of the IFP; ideals that we share with the people of goodwill. I thank you for remaining steadfast even under the onslaught of lies and deception created by our political opponents. I thank you for casting your vote for the IFP.  I remember some of our leaders who paid the price for being members of this Party with their lives, when they were assassinated here in Gauteng and in KwaZulu Natal, just before the elections.

 

You are in good company, for 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 1.2 million times the people chose the IFP. I challenge anyone to claim that the IFP is irrelevant or that our time is up. Such a claim is laughable in view of the facts. We are again the third largest political party in South Africa. Clearly the IFP has a crucial role to play.  It does not matter that our percentage was lower than it was in previous elections, whether we like it or not, the more than 1.3 million votes put us where we were before as the second predominantly black Party after the ANC.

 

What all of this means if that a great deal of work lies ahead for our Party. We must accept the responsibility which the electoral result has cast upon us and take up the challenge of opposition politics. We must look to our new role and allow ourselves to become inspired by the possibilities. We are entering radical, no holds barred opposition, where every fight belongs to the IFP. We are not going to wait until 2014 to regain our position. We have already taken up our position and it is from here that we must fight.

 

Our fight is not against the ANC or against the NFP. It is against the tide of wrongs that threaten South Africa. As such, in this fight, the IFP is the champion of South Africa's democracy, Constitution, liberty and values. I am here to ask you to take up this fight with the IFP, so that together we can turn the tide on the mounting corruption, ineptitude, greed and deceitfulness within our country's leadership.

 

We do not rejoice at the ructions that are taking place in the ANC-run municipalities.  We do not rejoice at the rift that is gaping within the ANC leadership in the Mabhida Region in Pietermaritzburg.  But the main thing about it all is that all of these things have exploded over the extent of corruption in the highest echelons of the leadership of the ANC.  The Tenderpreneurship disease has become an epidemic.  Sadly fratricidal deaths are now taking place.  But all these sad happenings revolve around CORRUPTION.  Money it has been proved beyond any shadow of doubt is the ROOT OF ALL EVIL!

 

Whether we speak in the local shebeen or in the House of Parliament, IFP people speak about bread and butter issues. We know about everyday problems like single parenthood, being jobless, HIV/Aids, the burden of electricity tariff increases, fear for the future and despair over criminality. We have not risen above the common plight of South Africans. We do not see ourselves as above the law or untouchable Leaders in the IFP still stand hand in hand with the people we serve, working and struggling together.

 

It was insulting, therefore, that the Premier of Gauteng, the Honourable Ms Nomvula Nonkonyana, could call the IFP "a dead snake". In fact, she travelled all the way to KwaZulu Natal from Gauteng to hurl this insult. She was speaking at a gathering in Umlazi, where, just weeks before, the NFP's representatives in the municipality had rejected the ANC-NFP coalition and voted for an IFP municipal leadership. They were quickly brought into line and, in a show of strength, the ANC sent some of its big names to Umlazi to promote the ANC-NFP coalition. The meeting deteriorated into a mudslinging exercise, as ANC events are wont to do.

 

Still, it is surprising that the Premier of Gauteng would go out of her way to insult the IFP when she has so much trouble to occupy her in her own backyard. Service delivery protests continue even after the elections and people are clearly unhappy with their ANC councillors. This is a consequence of the list debacle prior to the elections, when the ANC top brass unceremoniously removed from its election lists candidates who were chosen by the people, and simply replaced them. This caused such a furore that President Zuma had to step in with promises that the ANC would sort out the candidates lists after the elections.

 

On Mandela day, the Honourable Premier Ms Nomvula Nonkonyana had demonstrations staged against her by ANC members in her own backyard. My advice to her is that it pays sometimes to mind one's own business. The people are not fools. If the ANC was intent on doing the right thing, it would not hesitate to do it. It would not say, "Give me your vote first, and I'll prove my worth later." The IFP has never condoned violence and we do not advocate intimidation or the destruction of property. We see the burning of two ANC councillors' homes in Soweto as evidence that communities are desperate to be taken seriously by the ANC. But the ANC has become impervious to the cries of the unemployed, the poverty stricken, the hungry, the angry and the desperate. There is a sense in the ruling Party that anything is permissible because (a) they might not get caught, and (b) if they are caught, they can deal with the fallout until the fuss dies down.

 

We have seen this again with the maladministration scandal over the police headquarters lease. The Public Protector has called for remedial action to be taken against National Police Commissioner General Bheki Cele and the Minister of Public Works, Ms Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde, over the dodgy procurement of leases valued at R1.78 billion for buildings in Pretoria and Durban. We wait with bated breath to see what Cabinet will do with the Public Protector's recommendation.

 

Already the ANC Treasurer-General has tried to shift the responsibility onto Parliament. But the Executive has never asked Parliament to engage on any of the thousands of reports the Public Protector releases annually. This is really just an effort to shirk the responsibility of dealing decisively with guilty senior government officials. The IFP has praised the Public Protector for pursuing this investigation without fear or favour, and for bringing the findings into the public domain before anything could be covered up. There is a critical need for watchdogs over government that are invested with both bark and bite.

 

The IFP has played the role of watchdog over the ruling Party for many years. We disagreed with the ANC-in-exile when they diverged from the original path mapped by the ANC's founding fathers in 1912 that our struggle should be waged through non-violence. We have been more faithful to the legacy of 1912 than even the ANC. Ironically, next year will see the celebration of the centenary of the ANC and, although much has been planned by way of presenting the ANC as the sole liberator of South Africa, no role has yet been assigned to the IFP.  I will say more about this later.

 

Our own part in securing the demise of apartheid, which has been acknowledged by former President FW de Klerk before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and applauded by Presidents Mandela, Mbeki and Motlanthe, is now being sidelined once again. I attended the media launch of the centenary on the 15th of July and we heard the ANC National Executive Committee member, Ms Jessie Duarte announcing that the role of former PAC leader Mr Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe would be commemorated as part of the centenary. That was good. As one Independent Online journalist put it, anyone being allowed to share the ANC's limelight is "a rare feat".

 

I have spoken to the ANC National Chairperson, and the IFP National Council has directed a letter to her, emphasizing the importance of the centenary as an opportunity to finalise reconciliation between the ANC and the IFP. It would amaze me, but sadly not surprise me, if the IFP were intentionally sidelined from the centenary celebration. There have been efforts over many decades to expunge from the record of history the truth about the IFP's role in the liberation of South Africa. As former President Nelson Mandela admitted in April of 2002, "We have used every ammunition to destroy (Buthelezi), but we failed. And he is still there. He is a formidable survivor. We cannot ignore him."

 

The ANC has invited political leaders of other parties to be part of the celebration of the centenary of the founding of the ANC in January 1912.  At a meeting that we had with the Chairperson of the ANC, HE Ms Baleka Mbete on the 21st of June as members of different political parties, I had the following to say by way of response to the ANC's invitation to us to participate in the forthcoming celebrations:

 

"The centennial of the founding of the African National Congress is a matter of no minor importance. It affects not only the ANC, but the whole of the country. Therefore, I welcome this opportunity to begin a dialogue on how this centennial could be best celebrated as an event which does not belong exclusively to the ANC, but of which the entire Republic and all its political parties may take ownership, if they so wish.

 

This centennial is also too important an occasion to deal only with the past, and not also with the future. If the centennial fails to address outstanding issues amongst our parties and within our society, a great opportunity will be missed. There will never be such a first centennial again. We must use this centennial as a cathartic moment to draw on the lessons of the past and bring together a final resolution of all the outstanding issues within our society. The centennial should be the moment in which the promise of liberation can be coagulated.

 

As you all know, the founding of the ANC was somehow a family event for me. My uncle, Dr Pixley ka Isaka Seme, was the founder of the ANC. I was very close to the Reverend Dr Langalibalele Dube, the first President of the ANC. The Inkosi of Abasemakholweni in Groutville, Inkosi Albert Mvumbi Luthuli, was my mentor, and there are many people who credit me with his election as the provincial President of the ANC when I came to the meeting with a number of state employees to support his candidacy. Canon James Calata and Dr Wilson Zamindlela Conco were also close friends and mentors, and I had the privilege of delivering their respective funeral orations.  (Inkosi Luthuli and Dr Conco)

 

I knew Dr Alfred B Xuma, the President General of the ANC, and was entertained by him at his home in Toby Street in Sophiatown. We even exchanged correspondence. President Nelson Mandela and President Oliver Tambo and several other leaders of the ANC were my comrades and colleagues in the ANC before 1979. Even when I launched Inkatha, I consulted with Mr Oliver Tambo, and he approved.

 

I do not think there is anyone alive in South Africa today who can more rightly than me claim roots in the extraordinary events of 1912. Yet, there have been many attempts to sever the link between myself and the events which gave rise to both my political action and the existence of my Party. This has created a rift fuelled by lies and misrepresentation. On many occasions, all the Presidents of the ANC both publically and privately undertook to rectify the record and to heal the rift.

 

Mr Cleopas Nsibande was the first to publically attest to the fact that Mr Oliver Tambo, Inkosi Luthuli and other ANC leaders requested that I not decline if Amakhosi of the Zulu Kingdom decided to elect me within the framework of the self-government structures that the Apartheid regime imposed on us. They stated that it would be in the interests of our liberation struggle to prevent the balkanization of the country into so-called independent mini-states.

 

Mr Nsibande called for reconciliation between the IFP and the ANC. Deputy President Motlanthe echoed this statement at the funeral of Mr Nsibande, adding that he and President Zuma were duty-bound to honour Mr Nsibande's repeated requests that they meet with me "with a view to normalize relations between the IFP and ANC". Nothing has come of this."

 

I must say what stands out is that in 1984, Inkatha Yenkululeko YeSizwe, as it was then known, built a tombstone on the grave of Dr Pixley Seme at Croesus cemetery, here in Johannesburg.  We unveiled it on the 14th of September 1984 and I was the main speaker at that historic unveiling.  How can anyone hope to obliterate all this history?  It is impossible to undo what happened.  The National Council decided on the 24th of June that the IFP should accept the invitation to be part of these celebrations.  As I have already said, our National Chairperson is awaiting a response from the National Chairperson of the ANC Ms Baleka Mbete as to whether we will and how we are expected to do so.

 

As the founder of this Party, my legacy is intertwined with the legacy of the IFP. Efforts to destroy me and efforts to destroy this Party have gone hand in hand. Some of our opponents think they have won. Some think that the May 18th electoral result has devastated the IFP. But others are wise enough to know that the IFP remains for as long as our ideals and our legacy continue in the hearts and minds of South Africans. You have proven through the ballot box that the IFP still lives. You have proven that we are still a force to be reckoned with. I challenge you to take up the fight of the IFP as we enter a new era of opposition politics.

 

We have now to double up our efforts to re-unite our members in the IFP, who have been confused by the drama of the emergence of the NFP, from within the IFP.  We are the Party that cannot afford to sit back until 2014.  We need to gird our loins now, and mobilise our membership.  Reset up our branches.  Expand our membership to what it was in the 70s, 80s and 90s.  It was membership that was spread out almost throughout the territory of the Republic.  Because of money as a dominant factor, people tend to want the Party to do something for them.  They see the Party as a ladder to positions of influence and affluence.  They ask all the time what can the IFP do for them, and not what they can do for the IFP.  As we leave this meeting, I want each one of us to ask ourselves individually and collectively, what is it that we can do for the IFP to return it to what it was in all these years.  We are masters of our own fate, as one Poet put it.  No one will do these things for us.  We can only do these things for ourselves.

 

We are far from done. The best is yet to come. With your support, the IFP can turn the tide in South Africa. We are doing it for you, and with you. Let us do it together.

 

I thank you.