Meeting With The Community Of Mpumalanga
Address By Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MPP
 President Of The Inkatha Freedom Party

 

Emkhondo: Mpumalanga Province: 27 April 2011

 

Today is a very historic holiday as it is our Freedom Day. It was on this day that we had our first democratic elections on the 27th of April 1994.  This is now about 17 years ago. Today in the current local government elections we have youngsters who will be voting for the first time. We have a whole generation that did not experience all the humiliations of the racist and apartheid era before 1994.

 

For those of us who went through the brutal system of apartheid, today means quite a lot. Although, today all the horrible things that we experienced as people of colour, are like just a bad dream or a nightmare. While it is difficult to forget we nevertheless forgive those of our compatriots who were at the helm when we were so brutalized.

 

For many years before the dawn of freedom I kept on stating that when we achieve our political emancipation, it will mark the beginning of a more difficult struggle for our economic freedom. The fact that when we struggled for our emancipation we were also fighting against our economic marginalization, means that we carried both these struggles does not make our struggle against the gut-wrenching poverty which the majority of our people are still struggling against today, less challenging

 

While our national and provincial elections are significant, the local government elections we are having next month are even more important for each one of us. It is about service delivery right where you are in your local government.

 

It is very much about you. And I mean each and every one of you. It is about the daily basic needs of each one of you. It is about water, it is about your electricity, it is about the education of your children. This is an election which affects us very directly. It is a pity that the lion's share of the budget goes to the national and provincial governments. The resources in the fiscus are skewed in favour of both national and provincial governments rather than local government.

 

The trouble is that with so much political illiteracy in our country most of our people tend to expect too much from local government than it can actually deliver, in terms of its miniscule budget.

 

In a situation where national and provincial government is under the governance of a different party and where local government happens to be under a different party there is a lot of conflict that results from the ignorance of the different roles of the three tier-levels of government. I have noticed that there is deliberate exploitation of this ignorance of our people. When the national and provincial governments deliver to the local population what the people are entitled to, I find that those who are at the helm at national and provincial levels deliberately try to give the impression when they rightly deliver services at national and provincial levels as if they are being more generous than the local municipalities.  In this way the municipalities are given a bad name as if they are failing to deliver as they should. This is an issue where apples are not being compared with apples.

 

We realize that in most democracies people tend to loathe participating in local government elections. As a result population participation at the level of local government tends to be minimal.  South Africa is no exception in this particular case.

 

It is extremely important that leaders should regard it as their duty to constantly encourage the voters in South Africa to participate in the election by using their votes. We unfortunately struggle in a society which is corrupt and the fact that we have such high unemployment further discourages our young population from exercising their right to vote.

 

I am always honest enough in my politics, especially as someone who was in government, to state that as a country there are many things which government has done since 1994. But most unfortunately these are a drop in the ocean of the vast needs of our previously disadvantaged sections of the population.

 

Unfortunately, corruption in our country has reached high levels in South Africa's public life.  The corruption by those who are elected to serve the population tends to mask the good that is done. This makes it extremely important for us to make sure that we elect people of integrity and not people who fall into the category of tenderpreneurs. But sadly this kind of corruption seems to be the only popular game in town.

 

The experience of what has occurred with the kind of corruption we have seen ever since we had our first local government elections has not given us lessons to do something drastic to avoid the embezzlement of taxpayers' money that occurs at all levels of government. This is what increases apathy as far as participation in local government elections is concerned.

 

The duty of all voters is to see to it that the people you vote for are people of integrity, who will not fall into the temptation of so much corruption that exists in our country today.

 

We find that even at the level of exercising the vote there is corruption. I can say without any fear of contradiction that there has not been one single election in South Africa which has taken place without any corruption. From 1994, I can recall many complaints that we lodged into the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) which were not addressed. Each time these shenanigans were addressed because of some technical reasons. Some technical reasons are raised by the IEC either that the time for lodging the complaint has lapsed or some other technical reasons why the IEC does not investigate some of the complaints that have been raised since 1994.

 

The IFP recently raised a very serious complaint, and took the matter to the Electoral Court. For reasons which were not caused by negligence on the part of the office-bearers of the Party, the Party failed to meet the deadline as far as our candidates list for the Umzumbe Municipality are concerned. The Electoral Court accepted our bona fides and found in the Party's favour and requested the IEC to register our Umzumbe candidates for the current local government elections. The Independent Electoral Commission has decided to appeal to the Constitutional Court. For a fledgling democracy like ours, one would have expected the IEC to accept the judgement of the Electoral Court. There was no cheating on the part of the Party. One would have expected the IEC,  just like the Electoral Court to treat the matter on its merits.

 

It is important for our members to make sure that we have Party Agents at every polling station. For years I have been emphasizing this without any response from members of the Party. There is an added danger this year of what is called the special vote. Previously, there was a special vote only in respect to the national and provincial elections. As a result of the representations if POPCRU the law has been amended to include a special vote even for local government elections. This special vote is open to a lot of abuse. In fact, in the past in relation to the national and provincial elections, a lot of corruption took place as far as the special vote is concerned. 

 

While there are good reasons for the use of the special votes such as serious illness, pregnancy, the conditions of the disabled, etc who are unable to go to vote on the 18th of May, but this is open to abuse. It is clear from past experience that this special vote lends itself to a lot of corruption. As you are all aware voter registration for the special vote remains open until the 3rd of May. If for any reasons you will be unable to visit your polling station on the 18th of May, you can apply to cast your vote on the 16th or the 17th of May.  The Independent Electoral Commission will assist you, even in your home if necessary so that you will be able to have your say.  So please do not miss this opportunity.

 

Come out and vote. I have over the years found that the IFP is very incompetent when it comes to this issue of training and putting up Party Agents at every polling station as the ruling party does. It serves no purpose for the IFP to squeal afterwards that we were cheated.

 

I know that you will rightly complain that it has taken us too long to come to you as the people whose vote and support we need.  This has been caused by the role that our former National Chairperson Ms Zanele kaMagwaza-Msibi has played. She has allowed herself to be used by the ANC to wreck the IFP as they have tried to do over so many years. This whole thing started in 2009.  As you know the Party did not do so well in the 2009 general elections. We discovered that our branches were either dormant or dead.  When we tried to give time to the setting up of branches, there emerged a group of malcontents who called themselves "the friends of VZ". When this group emerged our then Chairperson Mrs kaMagwaza-Msibi told us both in the NEC and in the National Council that she had nothing to do with "the friends of VZ". 

 

She protested that they used her initials without her permission as VZ stood for her two names Veronica Zanele. She even threatened to take them to court. "The friends of VZ" became anarchists within the Party.   They would break up meetings of our branches and some of them even shot our members of the Party who attended her meeting at Enseleni, one of whom had his leg amputated. Some of our members were actually killed in Durban, at Emtshezi and in Gauteng. The National Council then decided to investigate "the friends of VZ" and also to find out if they had anything to do with our National Chairperson. The National Council invited our Chairperson Ms kaMagwaza-Msibi to attend a meeting of National Council where she had the opportunity to clear her name. 

 

Instead of attending that meeting she decided to sue the National Council before the High Court in Pietermaritzburg. This followed a case by some of "the friends of VZ" who took the Party to the High Court and Madam Justice Pillay dismissed their case with costs.  There was a case in the High Court against us as the leadership of the Party by some men who, because of our poor showing in the 2009 general election were unable to make it to the KwaZulu Natal Legislature and in Parliament in Cape Town. The case was heard on the 12th of November 2010 and Judgement was delivered on the 17th of January 2011. It was heard by Mr Justice Patel.  He dismissed their case with costs. In other words the High Court made it clear that we as the leadership of the IFP had done nothing contrary to the provisions of our constitution.

 

When this happened our Chairperson decided to found her political Party under the name of the National Freedom Party.  We in fact discovered that this Party had been registered in October 2010. In other words while our Chairperson was a member of the Legislature in KwaZulu Natal, paid by the IFP an IFP Member of Parliament's salary she was already a leader of another political Party. This shows that she has no integrity as that amounts to her stealing that money from the IFP.

 

This is the kind of person who now thinks that she can lead a Party which is financed by our old enemy the ANC. I tried to have this matter sorted out between us privately by raising it with President Zuma and later with Deputy President Kgalema Motlante. Nothing was done. I then decided to raise the issue in Parliament during the President's State of the Nation Address. I laid before Parliament evidence which consisted of sworn statements by the Mayor, a Speaker and a member of the Municipal Council. President Zuma did not refute any evidence I brought before him. He merely complained that when he invited me to his residence in Durban on the 16th of July 2010 where he suggested that I should retire, he said that he thought it was a confidential matter between us.

 

The NFP and the ANC are one and the same thing. A vote for the NFP is a vote for the ANC. About this there is no doubt. The evidence I presented in Parliament included confidential documents in which the ANC was urged to assist Ms kaMagwaza-Msibi. The reason why we only come before the electorate now is because of our Chairperson Ms kaMagwaza-Msibi and her friends and I wish to express our apologies to our members in Mpumalanga for letting them down in the manner this tragedy has played itself.

 

I feel ashamed of what our office-bearers did in not submitting the names of our candidates in time. The fault was with our office and it was with the fault of the Political Oversight Committee and some of our leaders. I felt strongly that I should come up here to apologise for these inexcusable blunders. I thank you for listening to me for so long. We need every vote from each and every member of the IFP who registered to vote during the registration period.