32nd National Conference Of The  IFP Women's Brigade 2011
"The Women's Brigade - Custodians Of The IFP's One Vision, One Mission, One Party"
Presidential Address By Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP
President Of The Inkatha Freedom Party


Emandleni-Matleng: 26 March 2011


On the 4th of September 2010, thousands upon thousands of IFP supporters gathered in Durban and marched through the streets, under the slogan "One Vision - One Mission - One IFP". It ignited a fire of hope within our Party, for we had been walking a dark road of treachery and discord for more than a year, and the illusion of defeat was steadily being engineered. The march was a triumph, not only because it was peaceful, but because it was a show of strength and unity when the Party needed it most. That march was organized by the IFP Women's Brigade.


I am proud to rise as the leader of the IFP and address the Women's Brigade today at this, its 32nd Conference. I am proud because our women have proven themselves to be the custodians of the IFP's vision, mission and unity. We meet under this theme, because it is the slogan developed by the women of the IFP to express your passion for your Party and your future. Through the march, you told me that the IFP Women's Brigade is not dead in the water. It is not defeated in spirit; but impassioned by the actions of those who dared to threaten the IFP.


On the day of the march, the then Chairperson of the Women's Brigade, Ms Thembi Nzuza, was not present, which spoke volumes about her commitment to the Party. But the march was very capably led by Mrs kaMadlopa-Mthethwa, who spoke eloquently and truthfully about the IFP.  There have been so many lies spread about our Party and our leadership, and the time had come for the IFP Women's Brigade to definitively refute the lies and expose the propaganda for what it was.


I have often said that our Women's Brigade is the backbone of the IFP.  But I feel that today I need to explain what I mean by that. Not only would the IFP not exist without you, but we would be incapable of standing. Our women have always taken a stand at the most critical moments in our Party's history and our country's history. Because of our strong backbone of women, the IFP has been able to disrupt South Africa's slide towards political hegemony, corruption, misrule and a one-party state. We need our backbone, because South Africa needs the IFP.


Foremost among the many lies that have been told about the IFP since the last general election in 2009, is the vicious lie that our leadership somehow persecuted Ms Zanele kaMagwaza-Msibi. Let us put that lie to rest once and for all. Our former National Chairperson was given the position of Mayor of Zululand by the IFP because we believed she could carry out the IFP's directive of service delivery in that municipality. She was deployed by the Party and held that position at the behest of the Party. She was accountable to our leadership.  Nothing she did in terms of service delivery was done in her individual capacity.


Because she fulfilled the IFP's mandate in the Zululand Municipality, the Party chose to promote her to the KwaZulu Natal Legislature, which is a higher level of government. But when we did this, some mischief-makers began spreading the lie that she had been demoted by the Party and that somehow we were persecuting and punishing her. The media in particular was responsible for entrenching the lie in the public domain that our former Chairperson was persecuted by the leadership of the Party because she was a woman.


But more than that, she had after all been the Party's candidate for the position of Premier for the Province of KwaZulu Natal. I do not know how else the Party could have shown confidence in her as a person and in the leadership of our women.  Her proposal was our tribute to womanhood.  And it was not even the first of its kind or an isolated case.


Even the ANC Women's League took up this lie about persecution. They disrupted a meeting of the Legislature to sing "Zanele is ours" and "What kind of a man is afraid of a woman?" The ANC's Minister of Human Settlements, Mr Tokyo Sexwale, publicly called on our National Chairperson to abandon the IFP because of its alleged persecution of women, and join the ANC.


It is outrageous that people believed this lie, when the IFP has such an impeccable track record of empowering women in every sphere. Even at the negotiating table when all parties gathered to forge our new democratic dispensation, the IFP's delegation comprised more women than any other delegation. We have always believed that women are equal citizens and must have equal decision-making power.


So this story about us persecuting one of our women was despicable. I challenge anyone, even now, to point to any way in which we persecuted Ms kaMagwaza-Msibi. Did we persecute her when we recommended her as our premier candidate in the 2009 election? The IFP received less support that ever before when she was our candidate, which implies that the electorate rejected her. But we still supported her.


Did we persecute her when we promoted her to the Legislature? Or did we persecute her when we gave her the benefit of the doubt while she lied through her teeth for almost two years about having nothing to do with "The Friends of VZ" who set out to destroy this Party? Ms kaMagwaza-Msibi misled us. She deceived us. She cheated us. This whole saga caused such chaos and confusion that we could not even meet as a Conference or as a Women's Brigade Conference since the 2009 elections.


When I spoke at the elective conference of the IFP Women's Brigade in KwaZulu Natal in June last year, we asked ourselves why the malcontents who called themselves "The Friends of VZ" continued to agitate for our former National Chairperson to become the President, when she had made it clear that she would not stand for nomination for the presidency. At the time, we could only speculate and the tensions of suspicion ran high.


We were locked in this war of suspicion for more than four months before Ms kaMagwaza-Msibi finally painted herself into a corner and was forced to reveal her hand.  It was revealed that she had been deceiving us as her peers and was telling a lie, knowing that she was lying to us.


The disciplinary enquiry scheduled for the end of October last year would have brought Ms kaMagwaza-Msibi face to face with her deception and she would have had to account to the leadership in the National Council about why she had done so much damage to our Party while claiming to be innocent - no, claiming to be persecuted. She balked at the idea of facing her demons and took the IFP to court to prevent us from holding the enquiry.


In her court papers, she pursued the stale lie that the leadership of our Party was persecuting her, and tried to strengthen her case by claiming that as a leadership we were illegitimate. She begged the court to force us to hold an elective conference, but first to make sure that we would not expel her before then. And finally she came clean and admitted that she wanted to become the President of the IFP.


How could anyone who had wreaked such havoc in our Party, who - through her supporters - had disrupted meetings, dragged our name through the mud, trampled our Constitution, besmirched our legacy, lied to the electorate, lied to the media, lied to our members, and allowed people to die - how could such a person dare set their sights on leading this Party? Clearly Ms kaMagwaza-Msibi had made up her mind that she would either take the reins of the IFP, or take it down. That is how little she cared for the IFP.


Despite her protestations that her heart belonged to the IFP and she would never leave us, she knew that the National Freedom Party had already been registered with the IEC, and she left within two weeks of telling that lie for the last time. But it is not only her that deceived you. Her supporters misled you and pretended to speak on your behalf.


Ms Bongekile Gwala alias Bongekile Mtshali and Ms Angel Mthembu were expelled from the Party for giving themselves false titles as leaders of the Women's Brigade and making false statements to the media at Dalton Hostel in eThekwini. These were two among many whom the IFP was forced to expel or discipline since April 2009.


We have lost members to this treachery. Some were honestly misled; others willingly jumped ship because a lot of promises were made of high positions, jobs and money. We know now that the money came from some leaders in the ANC, who were bankrolling the destruction of their old opponent; the IFP. I approached both President Zuma and Deputy President Motlanthe to sort this out and to avoid an escalation of old tensions between the ANC and IFP. But they chose to do nothing.


I then raised the issue in our national Parliament in February this year, tabling extensive evidence of the ANC's involvement in the VZ saga. I regret that the ANC continued to deny it, rather than stop it.  The nexus between the ANC and the NFP is by now so entrenched that a vote for the NFP is the same as a vote for the ANC. They are two sides of the same coin.


When the NFP was finally launched, we lost more members and councillors. Some defected to the NFP, but some bypassed this small fish and went straight to the ANC. To be honest, many of the councillors who left had done very little for their constituencies and they were not a great loss to the IFP. But this loss of members took a toll on the IFP's image in the eyes of the electorate, and we will need to work hard and smart to replace the propaganda with the truth about the IFP.


Fortunately, the truth about the IFP is not some wishy-washy statement of goals and obscure policies. The truth about the IFP, the IFP's legacy, has been built over 35 years. It is a legacy of integrity, a legacy of service delivery and a legacy of which we all may be proud.  When we campaign for the IFP in our areas it is not difficult for us to find a reason why people should vote for the IFP. There are endless examples of good governance and effective leadership to point to. The strength of our Women's Brigade is but one good reason to vote IFP.


Our Women's Brigade showed its strength in the midst of our trials by refusing to allow despair to settle over you. In December last year, despite the fact that we could not hold our Women's Brigade Conference, the Women's Brigade held its annual exhibition, as you have been doing since inception. In August last year, in celebration of national Women's Month, the Women's Brigade in the Amajuba District organized a prayer meeting, which I had the privilege to address.  There are many more examples of the Women's Brigade not giving up.


Nevertheless, it pains me that the Women's Brigade was affected by the ructions in our Party and that it finds itself in a weaker state now than it was several years ago. It pains me because we need the strength of our Women's Brigade now more than ever. We are facing Local Government Elections on the 18th of May and the battle is on for control of our municipalities. There is no question that our opponents are using everything at their disposal to take power away from the IFP. We need to ensure that we do not lose more support. Indeed, we need to set our hearts on growing support and increasing our votes.


We were all disappointed by the results of the 2009 general election.  I will not sweep that disappointment under the carpet. But I ask you to consider it as a challenge to the IFP Women's Brigade to work harder for this election and to be more vigilant against electoral fraud. We know that in every election since 1994 the ruling Party has engaged in fraud, particularly by registering voters in areas in which they do not live in order to sway the vote towards the ANC. We know about food parcels for votes, and even job offers for votes. We know our opponents play dirty.


But there is no use in us crying once the milk has been spilt. We need to do everything in our power to ensure that it doesn't happen in this election. We need to make sure that we are not cheated on the 18th of May. To do this, we need members of the IFP Women's Brigade to volunteer to become Party Agents for the coming elections. We will train you in what this entails and teach you what to look out for. We must be vigilant, especially when it comes to the Special Vote.


I have voiced my concerns about the Special Vote before, for we have seen it abused in previous elections. The Special Vote enables ailing people, pregnant women, the disabled and the elderly to cast their vote before election day. In this election, the Special Vote will extend to anyone who cannot go to their polling station on voting day, for whatever reason. This leaves the Special Vote open to extensive fraud.


I urge you to begin immediately to look for people who would qualify for the Special Vote and assist them to register to use it.  Registration will open on the 15th of April and close again on the 3rd of May.


I now wish to speak to you very earnestly about the election that will take place within this Conference. Over this weekend, you will choose your leaders and those who will represent the IFP in the coming term.  I urge you to choose wisely and carefully. Being a leader is not about ambition or the desire to be seen and applauded. It is about a heart to serve and a desire to see people fed and clothed, educated and living in dignity. Choose leaders who will put the interests of the Party and the people before their own interests, for service is not for the ambitious or the conceited.


I must confess to you that during the leadership of this Brigade by both Mrs Zwane and Mrs Thembi Nzuza, the Women's Brigade's support nosedived and they have both left it at its lowest ebb. It is not surprising that both of them decided to join the ANC. Before that, we were fortunate to have dedicated and committed Chairpersons of this Women's Brigade. These leaders were unlike Mrs Nzuza, who seemed to expect us to massage her ego at every turn. We admit that we failed to do so, but we could not succeed where even her spouse failed.


It is a pity that we have seen such bad examples of leadership since the 2009 election. But let us take it as a warning for this elective conference.


When we last met in October 2008 for the Women's Brigade Conference, the then Chairperson Ms Thembi Nzuza spoke in definitive terms saying, "What we have today is a Government immersed in corruption." I was sorry to see Ms Nzuza leave the IFP to join the very Party that runs that Government, because her willingness to wade into the pool of corruption suggests that her own values have been compromised somewhere along the way. Or that she was pretending all along that she abhorred corruption in government.


She has shown herself to be a political chameleon on the issue of changing Mangosuthu Highway in Umlazi. Her strong opposition to this agenda earned her the admiration of so many people. But when asked about it now that she has defected to the ANC, she is singing a different song. She says that it is up to the ANC to do whatever they decide on changing the name of this road.  This shows that she is not a principled individual, but a weathercock.


Ms Nzuza has propagated the lie that the IFP mistreats its women, even in the face of her own elevation by the Party. She occupied high positions in the IFP, as a member of the National Executive Committee and Chairperson of the Women's Brigade. She was the IFP's candidate for Mayor in 2006. We did not choose a man. When she could not make it, we allowed her to return to her official position as a representative of the IFP in the Executive Committee of the Ethekwini Metro.


But no sooner had she returned, than Dr Gladwin Ndlela argued that he should be deployed back to that position as he had not made it to Parliament, due to the poor performance of our Party. We did not agree. Dr Ndlela then took the matter to the High Court. We as the leadership of the Party decided to stand with Mrs Nzuza and we spent quite a large amount of the Party's resources defending her position.


She made quite a few gaffes, one of which was on Facebook. We did not press charges against her and did not take the matter to the National Council.  But she made further gaffes for which we felt she was accountable to the Party. She then started sending the NEC doctor's certificates stating that she was ailing. And yet she attended the meetings of EXCO at the Ethekwini Metro. On some occasions, she would be absent from meetings of the NEC without even sending an apology.


A decision was therefore taken to bring her before National Council.  She could not attend and the hearings were postponed each time. But finally she decided to defect to the African National Congress where she has been saying all sorts of things about us. She has kept on accusing the Party of persecuting women, when she was given the highest positions, and when we defended her position against a prominent male member of the Party who wanted to topple her in the EXCO of Ethekwini Metro.


We poured a lot of money and effort into training Ms Nzuza, even sending her to Sweden on a political education programme. But in the end, I would far rather work with people who are committed and available, than people who are double-minded - regardless of how well they are trained. Ms Nzuza's double-mindedness did some damage to the reputation of the Women's Brigade.   People wondered whether your organization was worth its salt, if it was led by an unprincipled individual like her.


But I thank God that this structure is bigger than a single person or a single personality. We are therefore not distraught over Mrs Mncwango either. On Tuesday rumours started flying about the defection of Mrs Sanelisiwe Mncwango, who is the wife of our National Organiser and the Director of Community Services at Nongoma Municipality. At first I was encouraged when I read 'The Witness' newspaper, in which our National Organiser Mr Mangaqa Mncwango denied that such a thing had happened, and added that such a thing would never happen. But as the day progressed, people started showing a photograph of Mrs Sanelisiwe Mncwango receiving a t-shirt from Mrs Bongekile Gwala, alias Bongekile Mtshali, of the National Freedom Party.


Later that day, the National Organiser himself 'phoned me to confirm that he had established that the rumours about his wife were true. We were surprised, because the IFP has faithfully supported Mrs Mncwango, even through her corruption charges last year when she was charged with stealing municipal funds. I pitied our National Organiser for this blow inflicted on him by his beloved wife. I encouraged him with the Secretary-General, Rev. Zondi, because of the state of devastation he was in.


It was indeed quite a blow, even to the Party. Mrs Mncwango has been a member of the Party for decades. As you may recall, when the Constitution of the Party decreed that the Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson of the Women's Brigade be appointed by the President, I appointed Mrs Mncwango as the first Deputy Chairperson of the Women's Brigade. She was in the Municipal Council later as Speaker of the Council and also as a Councillor.


But all of a sudden we heard that she had chosen to leave her position as a Councillor and applied for a job in the Council as Director of Community Services. This is where she is now. Although the Party has a rule that no member of the Party should be seen moving to and fro, as Councillor, then an employee of the Council, we just overlooked what Mrs Mncwango did. But now that the Party was preparing for local government elections, news filtered to us that Mrs Mncwango wanted to be the Mayor of Nongoma.


We received a list of candidates in the NEC in which her name featured. The NEC decided to advise Mrs Mncwango against wanting to come back as a Councillor. We thought the matter was settled, but we suddenly received another list of candidates from Nongoma and Mrs Mncwango's name was number one on the list. There were complaints from some of the leaders of the Party that this selection of candidates was not done at a normal meeting of the ad hoc election committee.


A few leaders of the Party, such as Mrs Thembi Madlopha-Mthethwa, the Acting Chairperson of the Women's Brigade, and other members of the National Council such as Geoffrey Bhengu, the Chairperson of the Political Oversight Committee, were sent to sort out some of the problems in Nongoma, including the issue of Mrs Mncwango. We received a report from these leaders that were deployed to Nongoma that Mrs Mncwango accepted the decision of the NEC in very good spirit.


So we were all quite surprised to learn that Mrs Mncwango had defected to the party of Mrs Zanele Magwaza-Msibi, as it is well known that there was no love lost between the two of them. We had reminded those who had to speak to Mrs Mncwango about the past charges of corruption against her, where she was actually taken to court, although the court later withdrew the charges. We felt she should keep that in her past, for it would always be raised if she was given a position such as Mayor. But there was never any suggestion that she should remove herself from all Party structures.


Mrs Mncwango, as an old member of the Party, knows that we have structures in the Party which include the Disciplinary Committee.  Any person who contravenes any of the provisions of the Constitution is taken to the Disciplinary Committee. She was never before any Disciplinary Committee, but she chose to give credence to a lie that she and Mrs kaMagwaza-Msibi were persecuted by the leaders of the Party.  She dragged my name through the mud by saying that people gossip about her to me. The IFP is not a dictatorship, whatever lies our detractors tell about us in this regard.


It is evil for Mrs Mncwango to give the impression that any decision that was taken about her was taken by me alone as leader of the IFP. I take strong exception to Mrs Mncwango trying to drag my name through the mud in the manner she has done in the media. Like other women who have defected whilst holding important positions, she was blinded by ambition to do what she wants to do. There is nothing wrong with being ambitious, but one should be ambitious for good reasons, such as for serving the community and service delivery.


After all this, it appears Mrs Mncwango has had a change of heart. On Thursday, our National Organiser was kind enough to read me a press statement she released. The statement reads -




After careful consideration of my recent actions, that prompted me to join the National Freedom Party, I have realised that my decision was ill-thought through, ill-advised and that I did not fully understand the implications of my actions.


I acted out of extreme anger. My sober judgement was impaired by my emotions, which resulted in the biggest mistake of my life.


As a Director at the Nongoma municipality, I have always been resolutely committed to uplifting our communities at grassroots level.

This remains my mission; a goal I can only achieve as a loyal servant and member of the Inkatha Freedom Party.


It is against this background that I would hereby like to formally tender my immediate resignation from the NFP.


I would like to unconditionally apologise to my husband, the IFP's National Organiser Albert Mncwango, to my children and my family for the pain and tension I have caused.


In addition, I would like to apologise to the IFP President Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi and the IFP family at large, whose support, warmth and loyalty I have enjoyed for more than 30 years. I regret that my obtuse decision has caused so much negative publicity and damage to the image of the IFP.


I hope that I will be given the opportunity to put forward my side of the story in due course. I want to come back home to the IFP, the Party that I respect and love so much.




Due to the shortness of time, I have not yet put this matter before the National Council, which is the only body that can decide how to respond to it.


I felt that I needed to give this full background about both Mrs Nzuza and Mrs Mncwango, since our enemies have seized on their defection as proof that there was something wrong with the way we treat our women in the Party. We are not surprised to see what a big meal the media made out of this. It was to be expected. It is a pity that all these women who defect are inveterate liars.


According to 'ISOLEZWE', Mrs Mncwango claimed to have been persecuted.  By whom? God only knows. She gave credibility to the lies of kaMagwaza-Msibi by saying that she was joining the party of another woman who was also persecuted like herself.  She should have known better.


I pitied my colleague, Mr Mangaqa Mncwango, our National Organiser, who has to live with someone like this as his spouse. One can imagine how he has suffered from her recalcitrance. I can well imagine the humiliation that Comrade Mncwango must have felt just reading the headlines in 'The Mercury' that announced Mrs Mncwango's defection, which read "HUSBAND DIDN'T KNOW" and "WIFE OF IFP NATIONAL ORGANISER JOINS NFP."


The IFP is not about giving away positions for the sake of mollycoddling its leaders. We choose horses for courses. We choose the right people for the job, based on skills and performance. As this Conference chooses its new leaders, I ask you to do so wisely and with care. Some of our leaders have disappointed us severely.


But we have survived the treachery of our former National Chairperson.  We have survived the indecision of our former Women's Brigade Chairperson, and we will survive the weakness of Mrs Saneliswe Mncwango; because the mission and vision of the IFP supersedes the ambition of individual members.


Our vision needs to be unshakable, because the needs of the people we serve are vast and overwhelming. The real issues we face are greater than who said what to whom, who is a "VZ", and what the newspapers wrote about us. The real issues that the IFP grapples with remain the same; they are the poverty of our people, the underdevelopment of our country, the pervasiveness of crime, the repercussions of unemployment, the anguish of disease, the inefficiencies of our education system, the scourge of corruption, the decline of morality, the very real problem of food security, the death of the rule of law and the HIV/Aids pandemic.


I am deeply concerned about food security, particularly in our rural areas where subsistence agriculture has largely fallen away. I wonder how our families will put food on the table, as the price of food continues to skyrocket. I have always urged our women not to wait for government handouts. Everyone who has two hands should produce something in order to earn a living.  Even in the garden near one's home.  A garden of vegetables is worth more than a garden of flowers.


During the apartheid era, I sent some of our women leaders to the Coady International Institute at St Francis Xavier University in Canada, to study cooperatives and community savings. Among those women was Mrs Eileen ka Nkosi Shandu and Ms Thoko Zungu. Many of the community development projects started in those years continue to assist our families today. But we need a far greater emphasis on self-help and self-reliance than our present ANC Government is willing to commit to. Instead, our Government is creating a welfare state where some 15 million South Africans receive a social grant.


By saying this I am not criticizing the idea of social grants. Of course, the first old age grant that was ever provided was provided by the Government of KwaZulu under my leadership. But my Government's philosophy was to empower people to help themselves, not to make them perpetually dependent on a State that cannot provide for all their needs, forever. History tells us that a welfare state inevitably collapses under the weight of its financial obligations.


That is not what we want for South Africa. We want sustainable development that sees our citizens becoming more and more self-sufficient. For only in this way can the full measure of human dignity be achieved, and only in this way can we free South Africa to become economically prosperous.


But the IFP has always been at loggerheads with the ANC's policies. You will recall our stand on HIV/Aids in this Province which saw the IFP save the lives of thousands of babies. We demanded the roll out of the anti-retroviral, Nevirapine, to all mothers when their babies were born. But the ANC was slow to move and reluctant to question their leader, who questioned the scientific link between HIV and Aids.  People were dying while the ANC pontificated. Even recent improvements in the supply of anti-retrovirals cannot wipe away the genocide that was caused by the leadership of the ANC through denialism.


They didn't need to wonder whether an HIV positive person will develop Aids. They could have walked among our people and seen it for themselves. They could have talked to our sick and dying mothers, whose hearts were wrenched with anguish over the prospect of passing the disease on to their babies. I thank God that the IFP could save the lives we did when our then Premier, Dr Lionel Mtshali, rolled out Nevirapine in this Province.


We had to join the TAC in a case before the Constitutional Court, against the National Government, to force the government to supply Nevirapine to pregnant women.  Even then the current leader of the ANC in this Province, who is also the Premier, the Honourable Dr Mkhize, sued the IFP Premier, the Honourable Dr Mtshali, for taking this matter to court on our instructions. Dr Mkhize tried to argue that Dr Mtshali had no right to take this matter to court as Dr Mkhize was the line function Minister of Health in the Province. He lost the case as the court said that the executive authority of the Province resided in the Premier.


Then, when it comes to education, the IFP Government of KwaZulu built most of the schools and training colleges in this Province. But when the ANC took over, they closed down many of those training colleges. When I was Chief Minister, our schools always opened on time and teachers were valued for the crucial role they played in the development of our children into competent citizens and educated adults.


But under the ANC, teachers in South Africa feel so neglected and cast off by Government that they engaged in a long and damaging strike last year, which kept our children out of the classroom for weeks. This came at a time when we could least afford it, for the 2010 Soccer World Cup already meant that our children would miss school for an abnormally long amount of time. Many teachers and learners put in a tremendous amount of work to catch up after all this disruption to the school year. But many learners never did catch up and they, our children, are paying the price for our Government's incompetence.


The ruling Party needs to stop playing with our children's lives and futures by gambling with their education. After more than a decade, the Minister of Education had to admit that the entire system of Outcomes Based Education, which was abruptly forced on our schools, had failed, and a new system would now be implemented.


This means that an entire generation of children has been educated under a failed system. How can they hope to find employment when our Government completely failed to prepare them for the labour market and for life? With an unemployment rate of 51% among our youth, Government will need to do more than just name 2011 the year of job creation.  They will actually have to create jobs.


We welcome the fact that government has put aside billions of Rand for the creation of jobs. We will do all we can for that dream to be realized. But one must confess that when we look at the figure of 5 million jobs, we are sceptical. For President Zuma promised 500,000 jobs in 2009, and we ended up losing more than a million jobs. This will happen again if Government does not address the issue of our rigid labour laws. The private sector must be at the forefront of this exercise. We have parastatals in this country such as South African Airways and others which are run by Government at a loss.


Many of our children still learn under trees or in mud schools, under degrading circumstances. This despite President Zuma's commitment to address the problem. Just last year I visited Maliyamakhanda Primary School in Mahlabathini to hand over ablution facilities which were kindly donated by an IFP businessman. It brought me to tears to think of the indignity our children must suffer, when they cannot even go to a proper toilet, in privacy, during a school day. This is not the kind of life we want to give our children.


As parents, as mothers, you want to offer your children more than you had as a child. You want to make up for every indignity you ever suffered at the hands of the apartheid regime, and under the iron grip of poverty. I know that many of you are old enough to remember what we achieved in KwaZulu with the meagre resources the apartheid regime afforded us. I encourage you to tell your younger sisters, so that they too may be inspired by the knowledge of what can be done, even in the most dire circumstances.


In many ways, today is better than yesterday in terms of opportunities to rise above your circumstances. But I am aware that our women today suffer deeply under the pressure of our societal imbalances, which are yet to be rectified by a democratic government. I recall how our women suffered during the apartheid era when their husbands were taken away from home to work on the mines. Families were broken up and women were forced to take the role of head of the home. You were often providers as well as single parents, and the battle to make ends meet was oppressing.


Today many of our women find themselves single parents and the head of the home because of HIV/Aids and unemployment. We also face the tragedy of child-headed families because of the scourge of HIV/Aids.  There is a new battle raging in our country, but many of its effects are the same. We no longer fight discrimination and oppression. But we fight poverty, corruption and disease. The IFP has been in this battle with our women for 35 years. We have fought with you side by side, in the trenches; and you have given us the measure of what can be achieved through hard work, selfless commitment and unbreakable faith.


As the founder of this Party, I must confess that the strength and the role of the Women's Brigade took me by surprise. I was expecting our women to lead us in the charge, for I have seen what the incredible passion of women can accomplish. I expected our women to be the custodians of our vision and our mission. I expected you to be the engine room of our political activity. And I expected you to make our Party proud. But I could never have anticipated the dynamic power of the Women's Brigade that I have witnessed over the past 35 years.


I was raised in the presence and at the knees of politically-minded women who were courageous and bold, particularly by the standards of their own generation. My mother, Princess Constance Magogo kaDinuzulu, never fitted into the mould that was expected of her. She fulfilled her responsibilities and her role, but she was always bigger than her people expected her to be. She was, for instance, a praise-singer of note, memorizing the history and lineage of our people with almost supernatural ability. In a world of men, she was a tower; impossible to ignore and majestic to look upon.


And she was a hard worker. I did not want to see her working in the garden when she was in her late 70s and 80s. So she would use her grandchildren, my children, as her spies. She instructed them to warn her to rush back into her cottage as soon as they heard the sound of my car, whenever I had been away from home.


My mother showed me what women are capable of. She taught me that there are no limits on a woman; that the limitations of our mind that we place on ourselves are nothing but constructs of the imagination and constructs of social conditioning. The era of women's liberation came to the Western world when I was a young man, but I already knew that women are powerful creatures, and I already knew what they could achieve for our country, given a channel to work through.


When I founded Inkatha yeNkululeko yeSizwe in 1975, I made certain that women were central to our movement. The majority of our membership was female, which is still the case today. And our women always proved more politically active than our men, which is also still the case today. This is why I urge our women to lead our election campaigns, because you are the custodians of our mission to serve the people of South Africa in the spirit of ubuntu.


If the Women's Brigade of the IFP cannot be equal to the challenge of implementing our vision and mission, then this Party is doomed. It is not surprising that our political enemies have always sought traitors from amongst our women. Not that we do not have a string of treacherous men who again and again betrayed me and the IFP, in the last 35 years.


But you are the custodians of our vision, which is to create a just, prosperous and moral society, whose citizens engage with one another on the basis of ubuntu. You are the custodians of the values of the IFP, which are solidarity, freedom and unity in diversity. And you are the custodians of a united IFP. One vision, one mission, one Party.


I look forward to seeing what the Women's Brigade will achieve in the years to come. For now, I ask you to win us the 2011 election. I do not doubt that you may yet surprise those who have been writing a string of obituaries of this Party. You may yet prove the old saying that the hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world.


I thank you.