Debate on the State of the Nation Address

Contribution by
Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP
President of the Inkatha Freedom Party

National Assembly: 19 February 2018

Honourable Speaker; Your Excellency the President; Honourable Members.

This morning I add my voice to the many who congratulate our new President on taking office, believing that our nation has moved into a new era in which we may begin to heal from the serious wounds inflicted over the past eight years.

The President has indeed given us hope for change and renewal. He has spelled out exactly what he is going to do, in a way that everyone can understand. For that, we thank him.

I have welcomed President Ramaphosa’s election and I support his leadership at this crucial juncture, for South Africa needs certainty. Only certainty can bring stability and hope. Our President has the capacity to create certainty, and that is what we ask him to do.

For too long our country’s leadership has vacillated on economic policy, hesitated to act on corruption, and been reluctant to take the necessary steps to rescue South Africa. For too long we have endured a President who pays lip service to fundamental issues, but whose words are meaningless.

We pray that that is in the past.

One of the first and greatest tests for our President will be the issue of land. There is a wound among our people that has never been healed. We cannot deal with inequality until we resolve the issue of land, for land is the means to create security, development and wealth.

We knew this during apartheid when the KwaZulu Government sought to protect the few remaining pieces of land left to the Zulu Kingdom after colonial conquest and racial dispossessions. We did this by passing the Ingonyama Trust Act through the KwaZulu Legislative Assembly, so that land in traditional areas could continue to be administered according to indigenous and customary law.

This was no “secret deal”, as some have pretended. There was no need for any so-called concessions to draw the IFP into elections, for President de Klerk, Mr Mandela and I had already signed the solemn agreement that enabled the IFP to participate.

The promise had already been made that international mediation would follow elections, to resolve the outstanding issues of negotiations. Ultimately, that promise was broken. But it had already been made when the Ingonyama Trust Act was passed.

After 1994, when the land remained in Trust instead of automatically transferring to the State, the ruling Party demanded that the Act be revisited. It was debated, argued about and torn to pieces, and – in 1997 – it was finally amended to the full satisfaction of the ruling Party.

Indeed, the Hon. Dr Zweli Mkhize declared: “(The amended Act) makes it possible for this Province to move ahead with the programme of development… as we all are agreed on the proposition that all the land belongs to the King, it should not appear to be only said by word of mouth…”

Mr President, what changed?

What does the ruling Party see now that it didn’t see before? Why has the Ingonyama Trust Act suddenly become enemy number one? Why is the ANC determined to take the land away from our King, away from the custodianship of Amakhosi, and away from traditional communities?

The Constitution recognises the institution of traditional leadership. But what does that mean, if the role, powers and functions of traditional leaders are continually stripped away?

Eighteen years ago, a Cabinet Committee led by then Deputy President Jacob Zuma promised traditional leaders that Chapters 7 and 12 of the Constitution would be amended, if the creation of municipalities diminished the role, powers and functions of traditional leadership.

That promise was never fulfilled. Instead, through successive pieces of legislation and endless empty words, traditional leaders have been reduced to mere ceremonial figures. The only time they seem to matter is when an election looms.

Is this how a black leadership treats its own people? Does the ruling Party sincerely believe that bureaucrats in plush offices can administer traditional land better than those who have been the custodians of our people’s lives, dignity and wellbeing since time immemorial?

Surely the policy of land expropriation without compensation, which necessitates an amendment to our Constitution, should not be used against the poorest of our people. When the ANC first spoke about expropriation without compensation, Amakhosi never expected that the first land to be taken would be the very land that we placed in the hands of the people.

It took a force larger than that which the British used to conquer India, to conquer the Zulu Nation. The Anglo-Zulu War of 1879 was a full scale war meant to take away our Kingdom from my great grandfather, King Cetshwayo ka Mpande. The King’s Regiments were under the command of my paternal great grandfather, Mnyamana Buthelezi, the King’s Prime Minister. My grandfather, Mkhandumba Buthelezi, participated at the Isandlwana routing of the British force on the 22nd of January 1879. King Cetshwayo was imprisoned at the Castle here in Cape Town.

Can we imagine that if my uncle and mentor Dr Pixley ka Isaka Seme were to rise now that he would approve of this dispossession of Blacks by Blacks? If Inkosi Albert Luthuli, a traditional leader and my mentor, were to rise from his grave, would he approve? This, Your Excellency, borders on playing with fire. We do not need to create this kind of provocation against ourselves. We have too many bigger challenges as a nation.

Corruption is not just about stealing money. It’s also about abusing power. Let us hear with certainty that there will be no more abuse.

That would be the beginning of a new administration; one that has zero tolerance for corruption. I have often said, Your Excellency, that corruption is not par for the course in governance. It is possible to run a clean administration.

I know this, because I administered the KwaZulu Government for 19 years, having taken up leadership at the behest of Inkosi Albert Luthuli and Mr Oliver Tambo. Over the course of 19 years, never once was a single allegation of corruption ever levelled at my administration.

Mr President, the fact that not a single MP can travel between Cape Town and Durban on our national airline, SAA, should tell us that things have gone too far. The multi-million Rand bailouts that were standard practice even when I was in Cabinet cannot be allowed to continue.

The rot has to stop, and we hope it stops here.

Like many South Africans, I have hope that things are indeed about to change. The door that was firmly closed during Mr Zuma’s presidency may well open again. Indeed, the long-ignored work of reconciliation might even creep back onto the agenda.

There is hope. And the President is right to remind us that it is hope that has sustained us. But this hope will need to be tested and proven.

Finally, as I have always said: for as long as the President does what is good for South Africa, the IFP will support the President.

I thank you.