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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
I thank you.
Liezl van der Merwe
082 729 2510