THE IFP’S SILVER JUBILEE CELEBRATION

ACCEPTANCE SPEECH BY 
MANGOSUTHU BUTHELEZI, MP
PRESIDENT OF THE INKATHA FREEDOM PARTY AND MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIRS

Eshowe: June 30, 2000

This year the IFP celebrates its 25th anniversary, and we are still going strong. It is good to be among the people of Eshowe and all those who have come from surrounding regions to share the jovial celebration of 25 years of strength, unity and growth. Here, in Eshowe, I feel at home. The IFP was born in this province and we have spent long years walking and living with the people of these communities. The IFP has never left its people or moved away to give leadership from a distance. We are here to stay because our care and focus is here where the people are. We are on the ground, in the streets, in the houses, in the work-places, in the churches, in the factories, in the hospitals, in the schools, and in the voice of every person who declares that they want the best for themselves and for South Africa. We are in the hearts and minds of the people who dream of a better tomorrow and feel that they have the courage, goodwill and hope to help in building it.

The IFP has always had a strong presence here, and it is heart-warming to share an event of this magnitude with old friends and long-time comrades. The people of this community have walked a long road with the IFP. You know me well and you know my Party well. Thus, you will have heard me say that the road ahead is yet long and uphill, and that we must walk it with a new strength that comes from confidence. Our confidence has developed through 25 years of experience in leadership. The fact that history has proven the IFP right, time and again, builds our confidence. The fact that people from every race, language, tradition and historical background find in the IFP a political home, likewise builds our confidence.

Since its inception in 1975, Inkatha has drawn South Africans from across the board, to the point that the Minister of Police of the time summoned me into his office in 1976 to intimidate me that by its very existence Inkatha was defying the laws of apartheid. In fact, our common denominator has never been skin colour or gender or economic status, but the will to see South Africa finally achieve the genuine liberation of social justice, equality of opportunity and economic prosperity. This was the vision of the IFP 25 years ago. It is still our vision today. For this reason, we remain a Party for the people of goodwill and a political home to every South African who wants the best for our country. We are confident that the IFP can take on the obstacles of the 21st century to achieve these life-long goals, which is the mandate of our people, because the IFP has been strong enough in the past, and courageous enough and good enough to have victory over the obstacles of 25 years. We are the only better hope South Africa has for a better future. There is no better hope for the future unless the people wish to have just more of the same of what we have had in the past six years.

We are not a fair-weather Party. The IFP is an all-weather party, always in the thick of the battle, defending principles and working for good. I am not shy, I am not remiss and I am not prudent. I shall speak up as the people feel and I shall act as they expect me to do, in spite of whatever violence, intimidation or pressure with which I or my Party may be confronted. We have done so in the past and count on doing so for the next 25 years. We have participated in the first democratic government of South Africa through the Government of National Unity, giving a contribution of sound policies and strong leadership in the transition process. The IFP has ensured that our country’s institutional and constitutional overhaul ended up offering South Africa something better than short-term and short-lived benefits.

We have fought for long-term gains, for the accelerated economic growth of our country and the accelerated development of our people. Even today, following the 1999 elections, government sees the wisdom and necessity of an IFP contribution to South Africa’s governance. We will continue to operate from where it is all happening, just as we have for 25 years. We work to make it happen, and make it happen better. We are not spectators who from the sidelines shout and scream that the players in the game are not doing well enough. We are in the game, covered with mud and bruises, pushing in the right direction with all the strength we have, against the odds, but with the help of God.

I established Inkatha yeNkululeko yeSizwe as a cultural liberation movement in 1975 in a political climate fraught with tensions and difficulties. The apartheid system was deeply entrenched and our people suffered greatly under the burden of oppression, indignity, inequality and poverty. The ANC mission in exile, which had achieved the internationally accepted title of the people’s party, had already begun to deviate from the foundational principles of our liberation struggle. They were no longer committed to passive resistance and non-violent protest. They were prepared to lose the high moral ground we had maintained for years. UmKhonto weSizwe, the ANC military wing, and the PAC, had opened the chapter of violence which was to leave its words in blood across our country.

When the armed struggle began, I knew that a mistake was being made which would affect our country for decades into the future. I rejected violence as a means to achieve liberation and I rejected the armed struggle. Today, we are faced with the monumental task of constructing peace and reconciling the man whose grandfather was killed, with the man whose grandfather killed him. This is not an easy task. Yet there is no alternative road for us to walk if we wish to reach the destination of social stability. I and my Party are committed to re-establishing peace and the rule of law within South Africa’s communities. We cannot compromise on reconciliation and brush ugly truths under the carpet of history.

Today we know that the armed struggle quickly turned against our own black communities and was used by its propagators as a tool to secure political hegemony after liberation. One after the other, the established leadership of black communities was overthrown by violence, assassinations and intimidation, and a new leadership foisted itself upon our people. The black-on-black conflict leaves a legacy of far greater proportions than that of the widely recognised black-on-white and white-on-black conflicts. The truth behind the dynamics of the black-on-black conflict is only emerging now, and we have a long way to go before a full awareness is achieved on how the armed struggle operated to destroy the lives of thousands upon thousands of black South Africans. We need to let this truth emerge, to speed up the process of peace and reconciliation, because today as yesterday there is just no possible alternative to peace and reconciliation.

I thank God that we are closer today than we have ever been to bringing reconciliation and peace to South Africa. I am pleased at the tremendous progress we have made, both at leadership and community level, and I urge that we go even further. As a leader, I am aware that I live as an example to my people and I therefore conduct myself in a manner that makes my life a living testimony to peace and reconciliation. Even though I have buried many friends who fell victims of political violence and wept with countless widows and orphans, I have never given in to bitterness over the past, or entertained vengeful notions. I can say now, as I always have, that my hands and my conscience are clean. I will increase my dedication to peace for as long as I have breath.

My commitment to peace 25 years ago led me to establish Inkatha to provide a forum of political mobilisation for our people once the ANC leadership was imprisoned, exiled or banned by the apartheid regime. Inkatha grew separate from those who engaged in the armed struggle, as a home to the many South Africans who refused the bloodshed, intimidation and chaos unleashed upon our communities. Eshowe has been one of the many theatres of this war of attrition.

From its inception, Inkatha grew quickly and steadily to become the largest membership-based liberation movement in South Africa. To me, this was proof enough that the majority of South Africans did not welcome the armed struggle. Yet, on June 2, 1980, the then Secretary-General of the ANC in London began a vicious campaign of vilification against me and against Inkatha. I was labelled lukewarm to our cause and later, having taken up my position as Chief Minister of the erstwhile KwaZulu Government at the request of the leaders of the ANC, I was termed a puppet of the apartheid regime. This was said by the very same people who urged me to take up a leadership position within KwaZulu as it was then.

The years of vilification struck a deep wound into my soul. I knew that my stand against the armed struggle grew out of a powerful commitment to my country. I did not want to see a politically liberated South Africa filled with South Africans still bound by the chains of violence, entitlement and lawlessness. Foresight prevented me from taking the popular stand. In October of 1976, when Oliver Tambo addressed the United Nations General Assembly as the internationally recognised representative of the South African people, and called for international sanctions and foreign disinvestment, I again took a stand contrary to the popular one, but necessary to our country’s long-term future.

I was looking ahead to the future we now live in. I foresaw and warned of the rising criminality we now experience due to a fostered culture of violence. I foresaw and warned about our weakened economy and the urgent need we now have to grow our resources. I knew that apartheid was doomed but that the damages caused to our economy by international sanctions and foreign disinvestment, would last long after its demise. In fact, our economic basis shrank, leaving the rich, rich, if not richer, but creating more poor while making the poor, poorer. Today we are still struggling with this economic legacy, as we try to broaden the economic basis of our society, to bring more and more people into the productive cycle. The present levels of unemployment and poverty are the consequence of past mistakes. Considering the compound effect of the growth we have lost, we are now at least twenty years behind in the process of broadening the area of economic development to encompass all South Africa, and in spite of all our costly attempts to attract investments, we have not even yet recovered most of the foreign investments we chased away.

I also foresaw and warned against a generation of young people who had heeded the ill-advised call of "Liberation now, education later", and today find themselves unable to enter the job market for lack of skills, experience and training. In all these things, history has proven that the IFP should have been heard and heeded. Had Inkatha engaged in the armed struggle, South Africa would have been reduced to ashes. Had we been heeded, South Africa would have been in a far better position to achieve genuine liberation for all our people today.

I can say these things with confidence. I speak with the confidence that years of leadership affords me, knowing that the IFP has always gone ahead and led the way with a long-term vision of what South Africa needs ten or fifty years down the road. My Party is the Party of the present, because the best option for today is the one that takes care of tomorrow. The IFP has never settled for less than the best for every South African. We have not allowed compromises or chased after power at the expense of our people. We do not whine or gripe about the great social evils without offering concrete solutions to solve the obstacles we face. We never oppose for opposition sake, but for the sake of all South Africans. These are the IFP standards.

Today, the IFP is looking ahead to what our country and our people need. We are aware of the vast sea of needs, and recognise how the majority of South Africans remain enslaved under the yoke of poverty, unemployment, criminality, fear, inequality, poor service delivery, lack of infrastructure and a lack of skills. However, we are also acutely aware of the prospects for South Africa should we empower South Africans to seize the opportunities we have. Skills development, training, adult education and human upliftment must become the priorities of the present. I have sounded the call to ready South Africa to leapfrog into the 21st century. This call must be heeded.

We cannot afford to be left behind in the rapid progress of information technology and global communication. Today, we have greater and easier access to information than ever before. At the click of a button we can answer questions, solve problems and speak with knowledgeable people across the world. The Internet is already yesterday’s technology and the global village is expanding by the day. We must become more innovative and imaginative in our approach to the difficulties we continue to face. I believe that every South African has the ability to enlarge their own horizons by constantly learning. Even the remotest rural areas which have no access to computers, have a wealth of information within their own elders. It is time for us to access information by talking to one another, teaching one another and learning from one another.

This is the same co-operation which brought us through the years of apartheid when upliftment was denied us. When we received little or no government funding, we built our own schools. We paid for our own teachers and educated our own children. Self-help and self-reliance were cornerstones of Inkatha during that time. Today, they remain cornerstones of my Party. I know that for many years to come, South Africa will lack sufficient resources to give every South African the opportunities and benefits which a few have previously enjoyed. I know that we still need to grow our economy before we can hope to distribute enough to everyone. Until then, we cannot sit on our hands and do nothing while our children suffer.

Together with the IFP, every South African of goodwill must confidently take up the challenge of creating a better future today. We must rely on our own resources, which are those of experience, community solidarity, trusted leadership, principled action, self-reliance, commitment to success and a desire to see South Africa blessed. Our shared commitment must be expressed in every effort we undertake to make things better, to secure our future and offer hope to our posterity. In November this year, local government elections will offer the opportunity for people of goodwill to announce their support of the IFP. Let us not miss this opportunity to empower the IFP, to empower the people.

Let us not be blinded by our togetherness at this Silver Jubilee Rally and think that this alone will win us the local government elections in Eshowe and other constituencies. We must all do everything that we need to do if we are to win in November, in order to be able to provide services to all our people. We are not new-comers to providing services to our people. Because we were opposed to the fragmentation of South Africa into so-called "independent states" we were under-funded in KwaZulu. And yet with the little we had, and the little we provided from our own sources, we provided clinics, schools and other services, for our people.

Let us renew our membership. Let us make sure that our people, even those who are not card-carrying members of the IFP, have bar-coded identity documents in order to be able to vote in November. Let us make sure that all our young people in schools and out of school, register in the constituencies where they will vote in November. I realise that because the delivery of services has been slow, that people tend to get discouraged because they say what are we going to vote for. Voting has not got many dividends for us so far in the form of services. Let me warn you that although we won in all the seven regions in KwaZulu Natal in 1996, the IFP did very badly in many towns and hamlets. In Durban, most of the people who did not vote were members of the IFP. If we do this this time we will have completed the absolute demise of our Party. In fact, this will amount to us committing suicide. We are a Party that has not got the funds that other parties have, so we depend on the voluntary services of our members. We need thousands of party agents. We will have no funding to pay them but in order to survive, our members should please render their services voluntarily. We appeal in particular to our youth to whom the future belongs. People of my age are about to reach the end of their lives, and we have struggled for our children and our children's children in the past. Let us continue to do so now.

Let us take all the things that threaten our youth very seriously, such as the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Let us square up to this threat by remembering some of the best tenets of our culture. Our youth had a moral code of conduct in the past, which was abandoned at great cost to us. While we do not argue with those who say the salvation of youth is in using condoms, I want to say that this war against HIV/AIDS will be conquered by more than just condoms. In Uganda statistics of this scourge have gone down and this is because the whole nation took an introspective look at itself. They remembered their past values and just a change in the conduct of the people in Uganda has reduced the incidence of this scourge. We would be remiss if when we talk about the future of our children and their children's children, we do not face up to the ugly war we must fight as a nation against this pandemic.

The IFP has fought for 25 years to see our country receive the best there is. We will not settle for less, and our supporters must not allow apathy or hopelessness to weaken their resolve. We shall never rest, we shall never stop until the mission which brought us into existence is completed. We shall overcome. We shall see the coming of the day in which our dream shall be reality. That day shall dawn when all of us can raise a family in a climate of stability and economic security, within a society which offers to all its daughters and sons a dignified life, free from unemployment, crime and poverty.

I have dedicated my life to the dream that one day we shall all be free from abject poverty, crime, ignorance and fear that tomorrow is not going to be a much better day than today. We will get there. We have every reason to be hopeful. We have every reason to demand the best. We have every reason to be confident. The IFP is leading the way, and we have fire in our belly. As we celebrate 25 years, I and my Party wish to thank every individual who has walked with us in the past, and welcome every new South African who will take up the journey ahead with the IFP as their map. May we go forward with pride. May God remain with us and continue to inspire us, hold our spirit and support our action.

 

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