IFP Freedom Day Celebrations
Address By Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP
President Of The Inkatha Freedom Party

 


 

Cecil Emmet Stadium - Zululand District Vryheid : 27 April 2010

 

On the 27th of April 1994, South Africans of every race, culture, language and background convened on polling stations across the country. Rich and poor, young and old, we came to cast our votes. Some for the first time. Some with the hope of maintaining the course. Some with the dream of changing the future. But all with an equal right to make our cross on the ballot paper and to speak with a voice that carried no more and no less weight than anyone else's. For the first time in South Africa's history we all stood on an equal footing and, through the elections, expressed that we had at last become one nation.

 

I am delighted to be in Vryheid today, as we remember our first democratic elections of 1994 through the celebration of Freedom Day. 

Amongst the various national holidays that we observe in South Africa, Freedom Day is perhaps the most inclusive. We often lament that festivals and events organized to celebrate national days are not attended by a representative mixture of South Africans. This has given us cause to question whether every South African feels a sense of ownership of our democracy.  And whether we really became one Nation as we hoped to be on the 27th of April 1994.

 

Right now our national unity stands on precarious ground, following the murder of AWB leader Mr Eugene Terre'Blanche and the racially divisive behaviour of the ANC Youth League President. Although the hairline fracture of division clearly still exists even sixteen years into democracy, Freedom Day reminds us that we have taken the first step towards unity. We took that first step as a nation in 1994. Now, we need to keep moving forward.  It does not matter that that unity still eludes us.

 

Throughout the world, our transition from apartheid to democracy was heralded as a miracle. And surely God did play a fundamental role in bringing liberty to South Africa.

 

But our transition was also birthed through the tremendous sacrifices made by countless people over many years. Our struggle for freedom did not begin with my generation. We simply accepted to carry forward the legacy of what our parents and their parents had achieved.

 

For many South Africans, the history of South Africa is cast in the simplistic terms of apartheid and democracy. But the complex relationship between different peoples on South African soil began long before apartheid was introduced. My maternal great great Grandfather, King Mpande, was approached by the Norwegian Missionary Society which sought land to establish the first mission station. 

Bishop Schreuder and King Mpande became good friends. My Grandfather, King Dinuzulu, was imprisoned by the British and exiled to the island of St Helena. My uncle, King Solomon ka Dinuzulu and his brother Prince Mshiyeni ka Dinuzulu were born during their father's exile on the Island of St Helena. Their sister, my mother Princess Magogo ka Dinuzulu was born at Usuthu Royal Residence after their father returned from exile. King Dinuzulu was to later be charged with treason during the Zulu Rebellion of 1906 and died in exile in the Transvaal.

 

I am excited to be here in the area which was ruled by my great great great maternal aunt Princess Mkabayi ka Jama. This is an area of great warriors of our Kingdom. The Princess herself played a very important role in the affairs of the Zulu Royal House. I think of Nhlaka Mdlalose, Sikhobobo ka Mabhabhakazana Sibiya, Prince Mbilini and several other great warriors who made us the respected Nation that the Zulu people are today throughout the world.  ISandlwana is not far from here where the Zulu Regiments inflicted a humiliating defeat on the most powerful army in the world, the British army of Queen Victoria.

 

How can I forget these things - after all His Majesty King Cetshwayo ka Mpande whose kingdom was being attacked is my maternal great grandfather?  After all, the Commander-in-Chief of all the Kings'  Regiments was none other than the King's Prime Minister  Mnyamana Buthelezi. Why should one forget these things?  After all, Mkhandumba Buthelezi my grandfather and his brother Mntumengana participated in that great battle of Isandlwana.  Abaqulusi were always one of the key Regiments of the Kings' Regiments.  Even as a child growing up at my uncle King Solomon ka Dinuzulu's Palace at KwaDlamahlahla, I saw a bit of what Abaqulusi were all about. Every 4th of March, my uncle Prince Mshiyeni ka Dinuzulu as Regent held a memorial service at the grave of his brother King Solomon ka Dinuzulu. On each occasion there would be a huge Calvary of Abaqulusi who rode their horses. It was awe inspiring for us as children and there was no doubt that these were descendants of the Zulu Kings' great warriors. Our history did not start in 1910 or in 1912 when our forebears founded the African Native Congress. We have a great history. The Anglo-Zulu war of 1879 was the greatest challenge that the Zulu Nation ever faced. This was long before there was the segregationist policies of the British Colonial Government and the apartheid of the Nationalist Party.

 

Before my grandfather King Dinuzulu ka Cetshwayo was exiled to the Island of St Helena as I have mentioned, his father before him King Cetshwayo was exiled to Ou de Moulen in the Western Cape after being a prisoner in the Castle in Cape Town with Queens who accompanied him.

 

We have a long and great history.  When we sweep it under the carpet, we do not only diminish ourselves but we do a grave injustice to a string of our own brave warriors who sacrificed their lives for us.

 

These bits of history show that South Africa's struggle reaches far further back than we tend to remember. 1994 has become our constant reference point when we speak of how far we have come as a country. 

1994 was indeed a pivotal point in our history; a culmination of small victories and the destination on a long road of suffering. But South Africa was not born in 1994. Our country has inspired deep patriotism in various forms for many generations.  What of the Anglo-Boer War where again Afrikaners showed such amazing bravery.

 

When I was Chief Minister of the erstwhile KwaZulu Government, the nationalist regime tried to honey-trap me into accepting nominal independence for KwaZulu to try to separate KwaZulu from South Africa. 

If I had fallen into this trap, millions of South Africans would have lost their citizenship and none of them would have had the right to vote on 27 April 1994.

 

The struggle to be recognized as South African citizens with equal franchise has been long and arduous. Our history contains battles fought on the rolling plains, and battles fought at the Union Buildings. Our struggle for reconciliation and national unity has cost blood during the internecine low intensity civil war waged between members of the ANC and members of Inkatha. It has cost sweat through the lengthy negotiations at the World Trade Centre in Kempton Park. It has cost tears as we lived through the TRC process, trying to come to terms with our tragic past.

 

There is much more to our shared history than 27 April 1994. 

Nevertheless, it is important to celebrate this reference point. 

Freedom Day should be a celebration of our first true act of national unity, and it should inspire us to look ahead for more opportunities to express a common purpose and a shared goal. And I believe that the goal we should aspire to is the full liberation of South Africa.

 

Political liberation was not the final destination; it was the first step on a long journey towards freedom from all the social evils and burdens we face; including poverty, underdevelopment, crime, continuing gender inequality, poor service delivery, and the ongoing inaccessibility of a sound education, decent housing, necessary health care and the prospect of a better quality of life for our children.

 

There is still an enormous amount of work to be done to ensure that South Africa might achieve full liberation in the years to come. It would be devastating if we agreed to stand on the milestone of 1994, and stay there, accepting that this is how far we can go as a nation. 

The ruling Party would have us believe that political liberation is enough. We all remember their slogans in the run-up to the 1994 elections. They promised houses and jobs, as though these things would just materialize out of thin air the moment we marked the ballot.

 

We see in Zimbabwe the tragic example of a nation that stood still after liberation. Zimbabwe is decades away from having achieved political freedom. But still its leader points to the past and blames every social ill on Western Imperialists who have long since had any influence on Zimbabwe's governance. The problems Zimbabwe faces are self-inflicted. While we hope and pray that our neighbour will emerge from its hardship, let us be sure that South Africa does not stumble on the same obstacle of forever looking backwards for someone to blame, instead of pressing forward to greater heights.

 

Just like Zimbabwe, South Africa faces some tough economic decisions. 

Every nation is just a few decisions away from disaster or success. 

For this reason, it is vitally important that the leaders we choose and the leaders we support are people with foresight, vision and integrity, who put the service of our nation before their own egos and bank balances. Unfortunately, in the past sixteen years, South Africa has witnessed one leader after the next being tainted by corruption and scandal. We have come to the point where even our country's President entered the highest office of the land under a cloud of suspicion.

 

I have spoken in Parliament saying that we must support our President, warts and all, for the sake of our country. Because the failure of the President is the failure of the nation. But the lesson of 1994 should teach us that we, the people, have control over who leads South Africa. I believe we are wasting our vote if we fall prey to the old African tradition of voting for the people already in power, just because they are in power.

 

In 1994, the ANC received an overwhelming number of votes. But it fell short of an outright two thirds majority. Regardless of the propaganda that vilified me for so many years prior to our first democratic elections, and despite the ANC working hard to project itself as the sole liberator of South Africa, more than two million South Africans voted for the IFP in 1994.

 

Those two million votes were not from people who simply eschewed voting for the ANC. They were a voting tide of people of goodwill who saw the IFP as the best hope for a democratic South Africa that would work. They trusted the IFP's experience in governance. They knew the IFP's track record of integrity, knowing that not once had an allegation of corruption ever been levelled against my administration in KwaZulu. They had walked a long road with the IFP and recognized us as the champions of development and bottom-up governance.

 

In the past sixteen years of democracy, much has changed in the political landscape. The ANC has continued its fight for political hegemony that began even in the eighties when it foisted its own leadership on our communities. We have seen the breakaway of COPE from the ANC, which split the votes and saw COPE becoming the third largest political party. The DA's ascendency has grown rapidly on the back of disillusionment, as voters have seen that the empty promises of the ANC prior to each election fail to ever materialize.

 

In all of this, the IFP has found itself repositioned in the political arena. In 1994, South Africa entered a Government of National Unity and I became Minister of Home Affairs for the first decade of democracy. In KwaZulu Natal, the electorate gave the IFP a clear mandate to govern and, consistent with our commitment to inclusivity, we invited participation from the ANC. Clearly, however, this was not enough for the ANC. In 1999 the then President Thabo Mbeki offered me the Deputy Presidency, provided that I give the premiership of KwaZulu Natal to the ANC. I could not betray the electorate, and I refused.  I had to forego the opportunity to be Deputy President on principle.

 

When the ANC took KwaZulu Natal in 2004, it feigned to continue cooperative governance, but took the first opportunity to oust the IFP with the Local Government Elections of 2006. The many good projects the IFP-led provincial government had planned were put on hold indefinitely and development in KwaZulu Natal took a backseat to the consolidation of power.

 

The IFP originally parted ways with the ANC in 1979, when we could not accept the ideology of an armed struggle that would cost the lives of ordinary South Africans. We could also not agree to the call for international sanctions and disinvestment which impoverished our country and inspired the formation of industrial monopolies that still have their claws in taxpayers' money. The IFP still thinks differently to the ANC. The IFP is less concerned with grasping power and more concerned about serving the interests of South Africa.

 

But being the consistent and trustworthy servant of the nation has not placed the IFP in the limelight. We have not grabbed the headlines, because we have not sold out to the popularity machine that says any publicity is good publicity. The publicity Mr Julius Malema attracts is not good publicity. It may keep the ANC in the spotlight, but it does nothing to benefit the image of our country or our leadership either nationally or throughout the world. The headlines the ANC makes do not inspire hope or security. They do not promote national unity. 

They do not encourage investment.

 

The day-to-day hard work of the IFP to uplift South Africans, promote development and lead a revolution of goodwill, does not make the headlines, but is desperately needed. I cannot help but think of the many tough decisions I have had to make throughout half a century in public life. I have rejected choosing the popular way and my choices have not found the support of everyone, all the time. In fact, I have been ridiculed and vilified for taking a stand for South Africa's long-term future, rather than pursuing my own short-term popularity.

 

People have criticized me and criticized the IFP for keeping our heads down and working for the benefit of our nation, rather than being loud-mouthed and playing the often dirty game of politics. Support for other parties may have grown in the past sixteen years, but I believe the hundreds of thousands of South Africans who continue to vote for the IFP represent a remnant of people of goodwill. These people see through the charade of false promises. They see past the propaganda of simply criticizing everything Government does without offering solutions.

 

IFP people are people who accept that the road ahead is still going to be tough, and a leadership of integrity and principle is our only hope of navigating it safely. South Africa is not going to progress on blind optimism and empty promises. We need a leadership that accepts the hard facts and has the courage to act.

 

Before the global economic crisis hit, I warned Government to heed the signs and adopt measures to minimize the damage an economic downturn would cause. Now the downturn has become a recession, but Government still insists it is not as bad as it seems and insists it is already practically over. This is not the experience of ordinary people.

 

The effects of the economic crisis on the poorest of the poor have been devastating. Many South Africans have been stripped of the ability to put food on the table. Jobs have been lost and the cost of living has risen dramatically. And the effects will still be felt long after economists tell us we are on the way back up.

 

Next week, I shall be travelling to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, where - for the first time - the World Economic Forum on Africa will be held in East Africa. The focus of the Forum will be on rethinking Africa's growth strategy in light of the global recession. It is common wisdom that we need to reassess the systems governing global cooperation, financial architecture and policies linked to trade and climate change.

 

In 1992, I attended the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland where, together with former President Nelson Mandela and former President FW de Klerk, we announced our intention of constructing a new South Africa. Almost two decades later there is again a need to construct a new South Africa. This time it is not about political liberation, however, but about liberating our nation from poverty and economic crisis.

 

The IFP knows this truth. We accept that Freedom Day is not about resting on our laurels and congratulating ourselves on how far we have come. Freedom Day is about acknowledging that we are all equally responsible for the future of South Africa, because we all have an equal say in who best represents our interests. That voice is bestowed by the ballot box.

 

As we celebrate sixteen years of democracy, I urge South Africans to consider whether the leaders we have chosen to serve us are in fact serving our nation. In a few months time we will go to the polls in the 2011 Local Government elections and have the opportunity to hire or fire municipal leadership. This is the time for the supporters and members of the IFP to talk sense to the electorate.

 

It is good for democracy that the ruling Party should have a vibrant and effective opposition. We are part of the opposition which unfortunately is fragmented. The truth of the matter is that each and every party in South Africa has cleavages within. So we are no exception. But the tragedy is that as a small opposition Party, rifts within the IFP renders us ineffective. It is sad that there is so much corruption in South Africa today. We see this at every level of our public life. Although the IFP is not immune from this disease of corruption, we cannot adopt a holier than thou attitude. The tragedy is the latest development in the IFP as the Party at the helm in this municipality. The saddest development is the corruption that is taking place around the succession debate that is taking place within the IFP. People who have received tenders and jobs from our district municipality have been involved in corrupting our members with money.  

There seems to be no doubt that taxpayers money is being used on a very large scale, particularly in municipal areas such as Abaqulusi and others. It is the first time that taxpayers' money has been used by people entrusted with service delivery to promote selfish political agendas. It is a shame that so many taxpayers money is used for such purposes when our people are living in gut-wrenching poverty. We need to reflect on what we are doing as we remember the excitement that enveloped us on the 27th of April 1994, when we all cast our votes for the first time within a democratic dispensation.

 

The people of goodwill need to engage South Africans in any and every forum, whether at church, on the sports fields, in community centres, at the shops or at work. The message needs to go out that there is something better than empty promises. There is something better than a leadership plagued by corruption and scandal. There is something better than poor service delivery and constant excuses. Voters will not tolerate to vote for people whose hands stink of corruption.

 

The IFP is still standing. We are still working and still striving for a South Africa in which power plays take a back seat to service delivery, and development tops the agenda. The IFP is not an attention seeker. Instead we seek poverty alleviation and community upliftment. 

We seek a government that cares for its people. We seek an end to criminality and the beginning of economic stability.

 

These are things the IFP knows how to achieve. And we have the political will to achieve them, because our concern is not with how much money we can make for an elite few leaders, but how our country's resources can be channelled to the people. The IFP cares about South Africa. As we celebrate Freedom Day in the Abaqulusi area today, I encourage us all to make a commitment to ensuring that the vote we won in 1994 will never be wasted on a leadership that doesn't deserve our support.

 

Let's use the vote to usher in a leadership of integrity. Let's use the vote to speak to our leaders. Let's use it to strengthen the IFP; because a stronger IFP is a stronger South Africa. We took the first step in 1994. Now, let us keep moving forwards.

 

I thank you.

 

Contact:
Liezl van der Merwe
082 729 2510