PRINCE MANGOSUTHU BUTHELEZI MP
PRESIDENT EMERITUS OF THE INKATHA FREEDOM PARTY
The Cathedral of the Holy Nativity, Pietermaritzburg; 25 November 2019
I must thank our President, the Honourable Mr Hlabisa, for leading this important campaign. There is nothing more urgent than the plight of women and children. We have a manifest responsibility to make a stand for every woman, every girl and every young boy who is facing abuse, the threat of abuse, or the terror of physical attack.
We know that there are pressing problems in our country. As leaders we know that the economy is in bad shape, and urgent interventions are needed if South Africa is to survive the financial crisis. Unemployment is an ever-present problem, and poverty demands our attention.
But these are all slow-burning problems. They will take time to resolve. Even if Government acts now – which indeed it must – these problems will be with us for years to come.
The problem of violence against women and children is different. It is, right now, a matter of life or death. If we act now, things change immediately.
When we say, “Take action today to secure a safer tomorrow”, we are not talking about the tomorrow of some far distant future. This tomorrow is the real tomorrow; because when we act to stop violence, the next day is utterly changed for the person whose life is saved. For many, we are not only securing a safer tomorrow; we are ensuring that there IS a tomorrow.
I am ready and willing to put my name to the Pledge of Commitment that our leadership is signing today. I am honoured to stand alongside my President, and to thank him as he takes this battle forward.
This was my final mandate to the IFP as I stepped down from leadership. I asked that the Party I founded do this most important thing: protect our women and children. The IFP is the champion of the vulnerable. We believe in the dignity of every individual, regardless of gender, race or age. Every individual has a right to life, a right to security, and a right to have their dignity upheld.
This is the fundamental belief of the Inkatha Freedom Party. When we championed the inclusion of a Bill of Rights in South Africa’s democratic Constitution, we did so knowing that human rights will always need protection.
Today, the IFP Women’s Brigade, the National Executive Committee, and all the structures of the IFP are taking a stand in line with our Party’s beliefs. With each personal commitment, our shared commitment grows stronger.
Over the next 16 Days, the IFP will lead this campaign of activism; not with lip- service, but with action. And beyond these 16 Days, the IFP will continue to lead, because we believe in securing the future for every South African.
I encourage you to take a pamphlet. In fact, take two. Keep one for yourself so that if you are ever in danger, or need help, or if you ever suspect that someone else needs help, you will have all the numbers you need to make the right call. The second pamphlet, I ask you to leave in a public place. There will always be someone who needs those numbers.
Finally, I ask you to share this pamphlet with the women you know. Talk about it, in your homes and wherever you gather. Make your conversations a safe space for friends or neighbours to open up. It’s often difficult to talk about abuse. But if we can get the conversation started, it will surely save lives.
We need to look after one another. It’s time to stop turning a blind eye. I hope that the commitment we make today will be echoed by countless South Africans, so that together we can stop the violence.
I thank you.