PRINCE MANGOSUTHU BUTHELEZI MP
PRESIDENT OF THE INKATHA FREEDOM PARTY
Polokwane Civic Centre
National Chairperson of the IFP, the Hon. Mr Blessed Gwala MPL; IFP Organiser in Limpopo Province, Mr Daniel Tlou; Programme Director, Ms Zandile Majozi; Pastor Samson Masindi; the provincial leadership of the IFP; Mr Neo Mookamedi; Ms Tendani Tshivhula; national leadership of the IFP; and patriots from the community of Polokwane.
Our country stands on the brink of possibility. In a nation of more than 56 million people, there is one aspiration that unites us all: the hope that we can achieve social justice and economic justice in our lifetime. This has been the promise of democracy which we have cherished for 25 years. We have talked about it and worked towards it with passion, commitment and grit.
Now, a quarter of a century into freedom, we are stepping back and taking stock. We are about to vote in a national and provincial election. Twenty five days from now, the achievements of 25 years will be tested, because with every election the people get the chance to ask the difficult questions. Has the promise been fulfilled? Have we done enough to get there? Are we on the right path?
I am excited to be in Polokwane today to have this conversation with you. Our country is massive and our people are diverse. In a nation where we speak eleven different languages, but live side by side, there are bound to be differences of opinion. But I can tell you that wherever I go in South Africa and whoever I speak to, I hear the same message in different voices.
South Africans are worried. We are worried about the future. We are worried about the rising cost of living, about the failing economy, about the pervasiveness of crime, about the scarcity of jobs – and about the leadership that is supposed to serve us. We are worried that our country is headed for disaster, because every time we turn on the radio or read a newspaper there is another scandal of corruption.
For years people believed that South Africa was different; that we were immune to this culture of corruption that seemed to pervade other countries. When we talked about government corruption, people tended to talk about Zimbabwe, Somalia or Sudan. But now, when we look at the global Corruption Index, we are confronted with the terrible truth that South Africa is firmly in the clutches of the monster of corruption. Just last month the former Minister of Finance in Zimbabwe, Mr Tendai Biti, said this: “Zimbabwe invented state capture. But South Africa perfected it.”
We are confronted not only with commissions of inquiry, but with investigative journalism that exposes the depth of the rot in the ruling party – the party that administers governance in our country. Books like “Gangster State” which focusses on the ruling party’s Secretary General, are exposing the web of corruption that has entangled their leaders.
What does this mean for our country? The effects of corruption are easily seen. Here in Limpopo, right now, we have a community in Vhembe District that has been without water for 10 years, yet no one can tell them when this might change. We have a clinic that services Makwarela, Sibasa, Dzingahe and Miluwani where refuse goes uncollected, the toilets are broken and there are no HIV testing kits. Repeated calls to the Provincial Department of Health have yielded nothing. The VBS scandal has been part of our national discourse for quite some time now.
While the shadow of near collapse still haunts the Provincial Education Department, there are now allegations of corruption against the Education MEC. Tender irregularities at the Provincial Department of Sports, Arts and Culture are also making headlines, with a R6 million tender being unilaterally awarded to a security company that even doesn’t have enough guns or the capacity to pay its guards on time.
These few examples are multiplied throughout the country. Corruption, maladministration and incompetence are bringing South Africa to its knees. The question we are left with is this: “What do we do?”
If we want to change the daily experience of hardship and injustice, we will need to restore integrity to the governance of our country. It is only when leaders we can trust are administering honest governance that we will see things begin to change in our schools, on our streets, in our economy and in our newspapers.
Fortunately, this is not impossible to achieve. In fact, it is within our reach, because a national and provincial election gives us all the chance to change our country’s leadership. We need to think wisely about the coming election. There is no point in complaining and protesting against government failures, and then voting for the very party that failed you. It is time for change.
On the 8th of May the electorate will be faced with an extraordinarily long ballot paper. When you go to the polls that day, you will have a choice of 48 parties, all of which are eager to gain your vote. But among the many choices, there is only one that can say what the IFP is saying. Trust Us. This is the IFP’s message for 2019. It is simple and it is clear. We are the party you can trust. You can trust us to restore integrity to governance, because the IFP’s leadership is honest.
Our message is backed by a track record of clean governance, service excellence and established partnerships. The IFP has experience in national governance, in provincial governance and in local governance, and we have experience in being a constructive opposition. What that means is that wherever the IFP receives a mandate, we build, we grow and we unite. This is the work of service.
The IFP is just as vocal as any other opposition party, but when we speak we are not doing it to grab headlines. We are careful about what we say, because we know that leaders carry a responsibility to ignite the fire of hope, and not the fire of destruction. There are, unfortunately, demagogues in the political arena who are capitalising on the biggest fears, anger and frustration of our people to drive a campaign of hatred.
This cannot heal our country. It cannot save South Africa. There is only one path out of the crisis. Restore integrity to governance. Empower leaders you can trust. Vote for those who build and grow and unite. This will bring change to our country; the kind of change that we all long to see. It is time to build social justice and economic justice through the ballot box.
I have come here today to encourage you to vote. I know that many of us are disheartened and some feel that if they don’t vote, they will send a message to Government that expresses their dissatisfaction. But that is not true. If you don’t vote, you simply allow others to speak on your behalf. You have to speak through the ballot box. If you want to send a message, send it with your vote.
I am speaking now particularly to the youth. I am proud of the degree of activism I see among South Africa’s youth. You understand what it means to be an influencer, and how information drives market dynamics. You understand that everyone can be a participant and every voice can be heard. That is the nature of the world we live in; a world of advanced technology and social networks.
But somehow when it comes to that most important act of casting your ballot, a large percentage of young South Africans don’t visit their voting station. The 8th of May is going to be a public holiday. Use it for the biggest campaign of activism ever. Rather than planning to just chill, decide now that you are going to be part of changing our country for good. This election is going to fundamentally impact your future, not just years from now, but tomorrow. It will decide whether those administering governance have your best interests at heart.
So let me tell you about the IFP and what we bring to the table. I want to you to know what a vote for the IFP will do for your future.
The IFP’s policies are based on principles and values. We believe in social justice and economic justice. We want a fair deal for everyone. These principles and values have been at the heart of the IFP for 44 years. They are not just my principles and values. They are championed by a great team of men and women who are serving South Africa through the IFP.
I am proud to lead this Party, but I am just one man. I work alongside many excellent leaders who are building and growing the IFP. I work hand in hand with our Secretary General, Mayor Velenkosini Hlabisa, and with our team in the Youth Brigade, and with the Women’s Brigade, and with all our members of National Council. This leadership team is strong and committed. They are carrying our legacy forward.
Our leaders understand the importance of having character and having vision. The problems facing our country need to be fixed and they need to be fixed now. But the reality is that, while we are working on immediate problems, we need to be preparing for the future, equipping ourselves now with the tools we will need tomorrow, and navigating new paths in order to avoid the problems that certainly lie ahead.
The IFP has always been a party of long-term thinking. We are looking at the children in primary school now, and even in crèche, and planning for their future. We’re looking at what to do now, so that in ten or twenty years’ time, they will have easy access to skills training and a great start to the career of their choice.
We are doing this because South Africa deserves more than crisis management. We deserve a leadership that takes us from where we are now, to where we all want to be. We all want security, a home and an income. We all want things to be fair.
But we cannot wait for these things to materialise. It is evident that unless we make a bold move now, that future will never come. So I ask you to work with the IFP in the next 3 weeks to get our message into as many homes as possible. Our message is simple.
We are the voice of reason. We are the champion of the poor. We are the party of integrity. We are the people you can trust.
Trust us to get the economy working.
Trust us to promote social cohesion.
Trust us to be tough on crime.
Trust us to fight gender-based violence.
Trust us to promote responsible land reform.
Trust us to fix the education system.
Trust us to improve the healthcare system.
Trust us to protect the environment.
The IFP has chosen these issues as the starting point to rescue our country. South Africa needs solutions, and the IFP can provide.
Not every political party is offering solutions. Some are happy to just keep talking about the problem. Some are pretending it can all be changed overnight, despite there being no budget, no plan and no real understanding of how things work. The worst are those who are making promises they will never, ever fulfil.
For this reason, the IFP believes in voter awareness. Because your vote is so important to your future, we want you to be equipped with the facts, so that you can make a good decision. I encourage you to read the IFP’s manifesto. Pick up a copy today. Read it. Think about it. Talk about it with your family and friends. If you have any questions, contact us. Visit our website. Connect with us online. Give us a call. We want you to know exactly what the IFP believes in.
Let me give you some highlights.
For the IFP, the development of an inclusive economy is an absolute priority. This is about human dignity. We need to get our nation working, to alleviate poverty, redress inequality, empower families, and fulfil the rightful aspirations of all our people.
Throughout the past 44 years, the IFP has gained an excellent track record in managing resources and designing budgets that maximise development and growth. We know how to get a lot done, with very little. We make sure that every cent is accounted for, and every cent is stretched.
When we administered the KwaZulu Government, and when we administered KwaZulu Natal, the IFP was known for integrity. Never once, in 19 years, was a single allegation of corruption ever levelled against my administration in KwaZulu. The same honest leadership characterised the IFP after 1994. None of our Premiers and none of our MECs were ever accused of corruption.
That is the way it should be. But compared to what our country has now, that kind of integrity is worth talking about.
The present culture of corruption has created disrespect for the rule of law. No wonder our society is becoming more violent and more dangerous. The IFP knows that no society can achieve its full potential while its people live in fear. Development is only possible when individual rights and liberties are secured. Thus safety and security, and access to justice, must be guaranteed. South Africans must feel safe and be safe.
Of course, the great debate in this election is expropriation of land without compensation; how it will work, if it will work, and whether it’s the right choice for South Africa. The IFP understands that the resolution of the land issue carries with it the promise of healing the wounds of the past. Land has social, spiritual and economic value. It has the potential to be the foundation of the renewed economy our country so critically needs.
If we are to create sustainable, effective development, our most important tool is education. Education is a necessary condition to bridge the inequalities in our society. It is the most potent tool to place our people at the centre of our move into the future, and to secure our rightful place in the global community.
Integral to the overall socio-economic success of our nation is good health and well-being. Thus the IFP has designed a social welfare and healthcare package to meet the needs of today and the future. We believe that all South Africans deserve access to quality, innovative healthcare.
We strongly support social grants, within the framework of self-help and self-reliance. Our primary goal is to empower people, while assisting the vulnerable in times of distress. The IFP was in fact the first to introduce a social grant in South Africa, under the former KwaZulu Government. We also fought hard for SASSA grants to continue uninterrupted when the present Government’s incompetence threatened to collapse the system.
We believe in combining a functioning social grant system with a programme of empowering families, to restore dignity and support individual development.
The IFP knows that women still bear the brunt of poverty, remaining on the fringes of the economy. Women still earn less than men for doing exactly the same job. Women face war on our streets, at home and in the workplace. Ours is one of the most dangerous countries for women and children to live in. All of this must change.
I mentioned that we all want security, an income and a home. The tragic reality is that millions of South Africans are living in sub-standard houses, in 21st century ghettos. There is a dire need to redress apartheid-spatial planning. The IFP believes that a new approach is needed that puts local communities at the forefront of the design and construction of house-building schemes.
As we build our communities, we must prioritise water, roads and electricity, for this infrastructure creates a conducive environment for small businesses to flourish where people live.
This is just a taste of the IFP’s vision. There is so much more. I therefore urge you to read our manifesto and to talk about what the IFP can do. Through your vote, everything can change. We can restore integrity to governance. We can bring solutions. We can save South Africa.
Thank you for welcoming me here today. I am honoured to speak to patriots and friends.