We are just nine days away from local government elections and the IFP is surging ahead, borne on a tide of goodwill generated within communities across South Africa. Here, in this region, in this Province, that tide finds its wellspring, for it is from the heart of our support bases that a true goodwill flows to embrace an overwhelming IFP victory on December 5, 2000. Local government elections will be the moment of truth for the future of our communities. We are either going to set the course for development, development and development, or sound the knell which will give us more of the same slow delivery, slow progress and slow solutions. The IFP is running for development. December 5 must be an IFP victory.

The IFP is accustomed to pursuing victory. We have done so for 25 years. The victories we have sought and achieved have been victories for the people. We have grown together with communities, always keeping our focus on the real issues, the real problems and the real possibilities. Instead of offering empty promises, we have worked hard and bent our backs and made difficult sacrifices, together with grassroots communities. The IFP has shared the small victories of development, and wept with ordinary people when the sense of hopelessness overtook community enthusiasm. Yet we never allowed that same sense of despair to cool our passion for genuine liberation, development and total success.

We have always believed that the God-given destiny of South Africa is to be a truly democratic, rapidly developing, multi-faceted country. We hold the vision of a nation of leaders, innovators, teachers, developers and reformers. This has been the IFPís vision for 25 years. Today, we have come to Newcastle to celebrate the vision of the IFP which must be fulfilled in this region, in this province, and in this country. I am proud that my party has worked hand in hand with the people of this community to build something better for our future. I wish to celebrate the life of every person here today who has supported the IFP and supported our vision. Together, we have brought development this far. Together we have achieved this much. But today, we are going to take it further.

As I say this, I wish to launch a challenge into this community. The time has come to redouble our efforts and strengthen our ties. The IFP needs the support of every voter on December 5. We need for everyone to be able to reach a polling station and for everyone to be motivated to vote for development, to vote IFP. The challenge for Newcastle and for this region is to be able to mobilise everyone to vote and to vote IFP. This is not the time for apathy or disinterest. This is the time to make a difference. Today, we are distributing IFP flags in the Dedangifunde Stadium and I challenge each of you to post this flag wherever it may be seen, in your homes, at your work-places, or on your person. Wherever you go, the IFP flag must draw attention and open the opportunity for every supporter to talk about the IFP to those who have not heard our message.

The IFP message is one of hope, victory and possibilities. We are not a party to dabble in the impossible. We speak the truth and tell it like it is. The fact is that on December 5, the way Newcastle is governed can be changed. Power can be brought closer to the ground, closer to the people. Leaders can be chosen who are well known in this community and are respected and trusted. Candidates can be elected who are accountable and responsible, and who will get the job done. Newcastle can put itself in the path of development, ensuring more effective service delivery, and turning the tide on criminality, unemployment, poverty, despair and ignorance. On December 5, things can change. All this is possible but, if it is to happen, the vote must be for the IFP.

I decided to come here notwithstanding the fact that this area has suffered from unnecessary conflict between certain opportunists and the genuine leaders of Newcastle. My efforts to try and bring about harmony have been undermined all the time by the opportunists who have given us so much pain with their mischief. Because I know that the people of Newcastle have supported my leadership over many, many years, I decided to include Newcastle amongst the only few places I wanted to visit just nine days away from the date of local government elections.

I have come here in spite of threats from some of people who have said that they will not support our candidates in the local government elections. There are people who seem to think that the IFP is a club that I founded for my self-edification. I founded the IFP as an instrument in the hands of the people and which I put into their hands in order to promote development. We are the Party of Development in which we have been involved for the last 25 years. The people of this Province know my contribution and about the contribution of my Party to the modest progress that they have achieved on this road of Development which we put on the two pillars of our philosophy of self-help and self-reliance. We as people of this Region know what suffering is as our people have suffered from abject poverty for several generations. In all these years, I have tried to inculcate in the minds of our members that in the final analysis we will extricate ourselves form this quagmire of suffering which flows from poverty, ignorance and disease. It is a favour that only ourselves can do ourselves and no one else. That is why we need to elect the right people on the 5th of December to lead us on this long and arduous journey of Development.

Since its inception in 1975, the IFP has planned and operated with the conviction that one day every individual South African would be able to speak up and change their own lives. We believe that true democracy can only come when governance moves from the bottom, up. The shape of our country should be determined from the heart of our communities. In the end, this is a local government philosophy which coincides with the IFPís constant philosophy of the devolution of powers. The local level is the closest to the people on the ground. This is where ordinary voices must be heard. The IFP has always worked towards getting the power to make a difference and to be heard further down the ladder of governance and into communities.

For this reason, December 5 can make a difference. Every individual vote can make a difference. Choosing the right leaders for local government means choosing the candidates who understand bottom up governance, who work closely with the people, who remain in communities, who maintain a dialogue and consult with those they govern. The candidates put forward by the IFP have been trained to serve and are well-grounded in the IFP principles of hard work, ethical action, accountability, responsibility and sound planning. These are the kind of leaders who can ensure that local government is not merely another impotent arm of central government, but is a dynamic, effective and efficient machine for delivery and development.

In the next nine days the local government campaign is going to heat up and many promises will be made by those who have no intention of serving the people, but only of serving their own interests. There are those who seek to secure their position at the top by covering the bases, and they seek votes for power. The IFP does not want to store up power. We want to move power closer to the ground and into the hands of ordinary South Africans. It is terribly sad to see that some leaders who have made it to the top are now sitting back and saying we have arrived. Those who have forgotten the people who continue to live in abject poverty, fearing criminality, suffering unemployment and ignorance for lack of education, do not deserve to be leaders. The heart of the IFP is still in the poorest communities and that is where we are working, living and leading, alongside our people.

Those who do not have development at heart must not take voters for fools. I know that the people of this region remember as well as the IFP does how we have worked hand in hand for development for 25 years. The IFP is the party for development. I am appalled when I see strangers coming into the very communities where the IFP is trusted and known, where the people have worked with the IFP for years, and where only an IFP victory can ensure further success, and criticising those of us who are willing to roll up our sleeves and actually do the work. Where were these armchair critics when we, the IFP and the people of these communities, struggled together for political liberation? Where have they been as we struggled together for social development? They were not here then and there is no reason to believe they will be back after December 5.

There are those who want to win local government simply to lead the people, but they do not even know the people nor do they understand the issues. They will not last the course. The IFP is the only party that acts from within communities, knowing the people, knowing the issues, having a long-term vision for development and keeping to the goal of putting power into the hands of the people. This is the party that should run local government. This is the party that can make a difference to see houses, clinics, roads, shops and community centres constructed according to the needs of each community. Here, in Newcastle, the IFP is committed to developing not merely the infrastructure, but also the people, through education, skills training and vocational guidance to enhance productivity and create employment.

We know that investing in people has by far the greatest returns. For this reason, I and the IFP have always advocated the stirring of a revolution of goodwill which can conquer the many social evils afflicting South Africa. I believe that people are the most important ingredient in any system of governance, and it is only by the will of the people that a country may achieve its destiny. If the collective will to develop a community is lacking, no amount of planning is going to get development off the blueprints and into reality. Equally, if the will to fight the spread of HIV/AIDS is lacking, we will be defeated and our young people, our work-force, will continue to die. Equally, if the will to turn the tide on criminality is lacking, criminals will prosper in our communities. I believe in the will of the people. I have seen what a strong will, a unified will, and a will for development can achieve.

As leaders in the erstwhile KwaZulu Government, the IFP worked hard together with the poorest communities of this Province to achieve development and social upliftment. While others were burning down schools and taking up guns, the IFP was rallying in the poorest places in this Province for community solidarity, working together with ordinary people to raise funds to build schools, clinics, and community centres. I cannot express the sense of pride that fills a community which has nothing, when it can raise, from the ground up, a school in which its children will be educated. I have seen this sense of pride carry people upwards and onwards, under the most daunting circumstances. We struggled for years and survived because of our philosophy of self-help and self-reliance. We as amaKhosi with our communities built many schools and paid for private teachers.

The IFP did not receive funding from Pretoria to build schools. The people did not get government grants to teach their children. Together, we made it happen. Together, the IFP and the communities of this Province built schools with no resources for the sake of educating our children, so that once we achieved political liberation, a new generation could grasp the opportunities that would at last unfold. Communities of this region know what was achieved together with the IFP at the local level, with no infrastructure, no resources and no governmental support. How much more will the IFP be able to do as leaders in local government structures for the communities of this region. The IFP is moving with the times and we are ready to drive this next stage of local government with the same passion and strong leadership we have always expressed.

When we engaged the liberation struggle 25 years ago, the IFP was working towards the December 5 local government elections. Our long-term vision already told us then that one day, when liberation was achieved and the entire constitutional and institutional framework was transformed, we would have to establish a system of governance on the ground which maximised the development of communities. The IFP looked ahead and, with our eyes on the goal, we worked hard with communities, in the trenches, on the ground, among the poor, to place the power to govern into the hands of the people. Not merely into a few hands at the top, but into the hands of those very people who raised money to build schools when there were no resources.

We want to bring the ability to influence the way things are run into the hands of those who lead their communities in development. We want these people to be able to work with their leaders at local government level to achieve whatever promotes community development. We want the people of this region to be able to trust their local government leaders, to know them well and to be encouraged by the unparalleled track record of excellence in grassroots leadership that their party has to offer. On December 5, you will be voting for individual candidates, specific people who are going to lead local government. These must be the people you know well, the ones who have been in your communities for years, working alongside you, sharing the struggle.

The people I am describing are IFP candidates, and they are backed by the strength of the IFP. They have a service mentality which operates in the knowledge that those who are governed are more important than those who govern. They are backed by a party that has always sought community development, economic prosperity, social upliftment, human fulfillment and excellence in the service of leadership. Now it is time for IFP candidates to take their place in local government, so that the dialogue which has long been opened between the IFP and every South African can begin to generate actions for development and results for genuine liberation. We will not stop working until our vision is complete. We are working under the IFP banner and we want our supporters to raise the IFP flag.

We need all our supporters and all the IFP faithful to rally around our candidates in these last nine days. One IFP candidate can get hundreds of people fired up for these elections, ready to vote and vote IFP. But with the support of every IFP faithful, of every one who seeks development, the IFP can reach thousands upon thousands of South Africans. For December 5 to make a difference to the pace of development, ordinary South Africans must become voters, and ordinary voters must vote IFP. Now is the time for preparations to ensure that everyone who needs assistance to get to a polling station receives help, and everyone who needs inspiration to vote receives the IFP message.

Newcastle must get ready for a victory celebration, because a victory for the IFP is a victory for this community. If the IFP wins on December 5, Newcastle will see the results from December 6 and into the next five years of local government. The stronger the IFP is in this region, the more development will open up and the closer we will come to achieving the goal of genuine liberation. We are not yet entirely free. That is clear when we look around at the poverty which still afflicts many South Africans. We have not yet thrown off the shackles of oppression. That is clear when we see how many of our people suffer without employment simply for lack of skills, knowledge and education. We have not yet fulfilled in reality the legality of our Constitution which says that everyone has the right to housing, health-care, enough food, accessible water and social security. The time has come for us to bring the struggle closer to fulfillment, and the first step is an IFP victory on December 5.

The IFP has always been the leader of the struggle for development. We have stayed within our communities throughout the liberation struggle. We have stood hand in hand and side by side with our people through the most daunting challenges of South Africaís history. Today, we continue to stand. Today, we raise up the flag of the IFP and declare that the future can be better than that which we have today. We are taking the struggle for development further. We are going to win genuine liberation for this country and we will not stop until we get there. The IFP is taking its stand today. Will Newcastle stand with us? Will we go forward together, fighting together, working together and winning together? Now is the time to do it.

This is the last chance to usher in genuine democracy. This is the last opportunity to get the power to govern directly into the hands of the people. And only the IFP knows how to do it. Only the IFP has the will to do it. Only the IFP can take this stand. Today, I am asking this community to stand with the IFP so that together, with the help of God Almighty, we can win development. Together, by Godís grace, we can win on December 5. 

Let us vote for development. 
Let us vote for empowerment. 
Let us vote IFP.