Okhahlamba/Bergville: 30 April 2011
It is good to be with you all here at Okhahlamba
today and I am honoured and humbled to have your friendship and
support as I officially declare the intention of the Inkatha Freedom
Party to continue leading the Okhahlamba Municipal Council after the
Local Government Elections which are now less than a month away.
These are indeed challenging times for the town of Bergville and the
surrounding communities. The IFP has been in power in this
municipality ever since the current municipal structure was
introduced more than a decade ago.
We are proud to have brought stability and
development to this previously neglected and underdeveloped rural
area. And we have done this against all odds, so to speak.
We have had to contend with insufficient funding
municipalities receive from the national fiscus and we have had to
find creative ways to ensure the day-to-day running of a
municipality that could not raise much in the way of its own revenue
because the vast majority of its residents live in abject poverty.
Rather than being able to pay for municipal services, most of the
people who live around here rely on the provision of free services.
Some would find such challenges insurmountable, but not we in the
IFP! The progress we have achieved in terms of provision of basic
services and infrastructure is truly commendable considering how
little money we have had to spend on these items in our successive
It is most unfortunate that, for a time, our good
work was compromised by a handful of self-serving individuals who
abused their positions at the helm of this municipality for personal
gain. I will not mince words when I denounce their despicable
actions. These individuals, among whom I count former Mayor VR
Mlotshwa, had been democratically elected to lead the Okhahlamba
Municipality as Councillors on the IFP party list only to betray
their party's values and principles once they were safely in power.
This is by no means a unique story of betrayal, nor is it an
isolated example of corruption by power. A nineteenth century
British moralist and historian Lord Acton put it aptly: "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power
The mismanagement of municipal funds and
allegations of corruption that resulted from the behaviour of these
renegade Councillors did not merely draw the ire of the IFP
leadership but caught the attention of the KwaZulu-Natal
Auditor-General earning the IFP-controlled Okhahlamba Municipality a
string of unfavourable audit opinions from the supreme audit
institution in the province. As party leader, I had spent a lot of
time over those troubling days, consulting one-on-one with dozens of
Okhahlamba residents - from prominent community and church leaders,
to business owners and schoolteachers, to rank-and-file party
members - about the course of action the IFP should take against the
Councillors who have betrayed the trust not only of their party but
the community they were elected to serve.
These discussions were very eye-opening. Even
before these Councillors revealed their true colours by conspiring
against the IFP with the so-called 'Friends of VZ' - a pressure
group established to advance the leadership ambitions of the then
IFP National Chairperson VZ kaMagwaza-Msibi, the IFP leadership had
no choice but to expel them from the party on the strength of their
shameful performance in the Okhahlamba Council. As things turned
out, this decision has been vindicated. The 'Friends of VZ' have
since registered as a political party under the unelected leadership
of Mrs kaMagwaza-Msibi and many of the former Okhahlamba Councillors
who had given us so many sleepless nights are now competing for
votes in the upcoming elections under the orange banner of the
National Freedom Party.
Although this unfortunate episode has done a lot
of damage to the IFP's reputation on the ground and compromised
efficient service delivery in places like Okhahlamba, its resolution
has meant that today we know where we stand. For the upcoming
elections, we are bringing you candidates whom we have appropriately
vetted during our candidate selection process and about whose
integrity and loyalty to the party we have no doubts. By contrast,
our opponents in the NFP are offering more of the same -
discredited individuals who previously ran this municipality
for their own gain rather than the benefit of its residents and, in
doing so, mismanaged and wasted precious municipal funds. It makes
me laugh when some commentators make the case for the NFP as a party
rooted in local government! What experience does the NFP have in
local government? The
shenanigans that ex-Mayor Mlotshwa did to promote his own interests.
I am aware that individuals like the former
municipal leadership at Okhahlamba are one of the reasons why people
like you are disillusioned with politics and with politicians. We
live in a cynical age. Our political leaders too often play on our
vulnerabilities and our fears or exploit our differences for their
own personal and partisan gain. In doing so, they miss real
opportunities for advancing the welfare of those who put them in
their positions in the first place. Forget the NFP for the moment
and consider its big brother - the ANC. After seventeen years of ANC
government in our country and seven years in our province, I would
like to adapt the ANC's election slogan of "working together we can
do more" to "working together we should have done more". In
Okhahlamba you are facing the ANC and its clone, the NFP. A vote for
the NFP is a vote for the ANC.
Corruption and cadre deployment have caused so
many billions of taxpayers' money to be squandered that ordinary
South Africans are suffering due to the resultant lack of delivery.
Local government in our province is in trouble largely because the
government persists in denial about the true state of local
government in KwaZulu-Natal.
Instead of addressing the gross underfunding of
local government, financial woes of municipalities and the lack of
critical skills that hamper service delivery, the government focuses
only on what can best be described as an appearance of service
delivery. I find it amusing how all of a sudden delivery speeds up
ahead of an election and how all of a sudden public infrastructure
which communities have had to wait for years magically appears for a
handover in the run up to an election.
We need a national and provincial government that
assist local government to improve its financial status, and we need
to ask, despite millions being spent on enhancing municipal revenue
by the provinces, why this has borne no fruits. We also need to ask
why millions that were set aside to enhance critical skills in local
government remain unspent by the Provincial Government. Local
government delivers crucial services to communities and also
delivers important services on behalf of provincial government.
However, it still remains the step child of national and provincial
governments. If serious attention is not given to the
functioning of local government - and soon, we will be faced with
more service delivery protests ahead of the local government
elections. The recent incident near Ficksburg where a service
delivery protestor was shot dead by the police has come to symbolise
a failed ANC-run municipality within a failed ANC-controlled state.
Andries Tatane, a local activist, took to the streets against the
lack of basic services in his community and he paid for this with
his life at the hands of the state police. None of this could have
happened where the IFP is in charge.
I strongly believe that we can solve the problems
experienced by local government by doing two things, namely:
Restore proper financial management in our
Appoint qualified officials in specialised
Solutions to the associated challenges will
follow. I believe that the main focal point of the department should
be to restore service delivery by restoring proper financial
management and controls in municipalities. Without money
municipalities will not be able to deliver the services expected of
them. We need skilled, professional career local government
officials and not deployed cadres. This leads directly to tender and
other forms of corruption. We need people in positions that can do
the work while empowering the previously disadvantaged South
The success in local government rests on labour,
in other words, the quality of our human resources. In order to make
the endless turn-around strategies work in local government, we need
a stable political environment with the backing of skilled
officials. I want to use this opportunity to honour those many
employees in local government - and they know who they are - who are
doing good work and who do not stray from the right path. We have
witnessed first-hand here at Okhahlamba that the temptation to
abandon the mandate of the people and pursue personal agendas is
only too great. Unless we ensure that every elected Councillor and
every appointed official emulates their example, we will never enjoy
an effective and efficient local government that would benefit
everyone in South Africa.
With decades in power at local level in
KwaZulu-Natal and most recently in control of the province's 32,
mostly rural and underdeveloped, municipalities, the IFP has
demonstrated its ability to govern effectively, efficiently and with
integrity and compassion. Unlike others who only talk about a better life
for all, we have genuinely delivered services for all who reside in
our municipalities. Unlike others who only care for the select,
politically-connected few, we have brought tangible benefits to the
workers, the entrepreneurs and the unemployed alike. We believe it
is the role of government to ensure that everyone, irrespective of
income or community standing, has access to the basic and social
This is why we have implemented indigent policies
and provided rates rebates for those vulnerable citizens who can
meet the cost of municipal services halfway or cannot meet it at
all. This is why every one of our municipalities has provided
targeted relief for residents unable to afford basic services such
as clean water, electricity and sanitation. For those residents who
can afford to pay for our services, our municipalities must ensure
that the application of rates and service charges is fair. We have
done this consistently in two ways. Firstly, all IFP-run
municipalities make annual tariff increases as equitable, gradual
and predictable as possible to limit disagreements and prevent
unpleasant surprises. And secondly, all our municipalities make sure
that residents are billed correctly and only for the services they
We also believe that a municipality's role does
not end with the provision of basic services. Local government is
central to the development of our local communities. It is where
government and people interact in a very concrete and immediate way.
It is where government physically encounters poverty and has a
capacity to alleviate it. Our focus here has always been on helping
our people help themselves. The path out of poverty does not lead
through unchecked provision of social grants, which is a mere stop
gap solution, but through sustainable employment. But governments
cannot create jobs by themselves unless they pile up jobs in the
public sector, which is about the only sort of job creation we have
seen from the ANC government. Jobs can only be created sustainably
in an economy that grows as a result of entrepreneurial activity.
Our cities, townships, informal settlements and deep rural areas are
the potential engines of job creation.
That is why we are determined to make our
municipalities places of choice for established as well as emerging
businesses. When businesses open and expand in our municipalities,
they create jobs. We must not only create conditions that attract
investment but ensure that businesses operate in a corruption-free
environment. The current municipal tariff structures charge
businesses disproportionately more in rates and service charges than
ordinary residents without offering entrepreneurs any incentives in
return. And the lack of transparency that surrounds tenders and
potential conflicts of interest of municipal employees and
Councillors acts as a deterrent for business. Both of these practices need an urgent review and
we are determined to effect the necessary changes.
I believe in a politics of hope and opportunity. I
believe - because I know this from experience - that public service
has the capacity to bring people together to enrich the common good.
If nothing else, I want my party's candidacy in the upcoming Local
Government Elections, and its time in office should it be elected to
represent the people, to demonstrate that politics and public
service can be an uplifting and creative force for improving our
communities and leaving this world a better place for our children.
Here is what I have learned in talking with people from all walks of
life over the past few days since I have been on the campaign trail:
I have observed that people are tired of being
promised the same promises over and over and that they eager for
change. They see taxpayer Rands being used for questionable or
downright wasteful purposes, and wish for greater fiscal
responsibility in government.
They see poverty amidst plenty, and wish to expand
opportunities for people to become self-sufficient.
They see traces of corruption in every sphere of
government, and they wish democratic institutions whose job it is to
fight it would work harder to ensure that crime does not pay.
They see arrogant and incompetent people in
positions of power, and they wish access to those position were open
to qualified individuals with a calling to serve others. They see
important decisions being made with too little input from the
citizens who will be affected by those decisions, and wish for more
openness and participation in the decision-making process.
I, too, see these things and I, too, wish to
change them. It is tempting sometimes to just resign ourselves to
the idea that there is little we can do to change the way things
are. But the message I have brought to Okhahlamba today is one of
hope and opportunity. At the same time, I realise that my party
cannot implement any one of its policies and accomplish any one of
its goals without you. Without you, we cannot run an open and
efficient local government that works with you and for you. Without
you, we cannot stop mismanagement, fraud and corruption. Without
you, we cannot prioritise spending on basic services and
infrastructure where these have been neglected or open more
municipalities for business.
But we can do it with you. Vote IFP. It's about
I thank you.