THANK YOU RALLY IN THE ZULULAND DISTRICT
FOLLOWING THE IFP’S SUCCESS
IN THE MAY 2019 NATIONAL AND PROVINCIAL ELECTIONS
PRINCE MANGOSUTHU BUTHELEZI MP
PRESIDENT OF THE INKATHA FREEDOM PARTY
There is a saying that champions use to motivate themselves. It goes like this: “I will do today what others won’t, so that tomorrow I can do what others can’t.”
With every new day on the campaign trail ahead of the May 2019 elections, I and the leaders of the IFP got up with these words on our hearts. We knew that we had to spend another long day away from our families, not resting, often not eating; just talking to the people and listening.
We knew the sacrifice it would demand, again and again, throughout the weeks and the months of the election campaign. But we did it, because we also knew that if we gave it our all before May the 8th, when the votes were finally counted the IFP could do what others can’t: we could speak with the genuine voice of the people.
Even knowing this, however, our spirits would have flagged at some point, had we not witnessed the great mass of support from our members and activists. It was you who mobilised conversations about the IFP. It was you who volunteered, going door to door, signing up new members and encouraging people to vote for the IFP. You walked alongside us, urging us with your enthusiasm to keep going.
It made me immensely proud to see the rank and file of our Party canvassing support for these elections. When the votes were counted, it was abundantly clear that all our efforts had paid off in spades. The IFP had grown and strengthened. We had, in fact, regained our position as the Official Opposition in KwaZulu Natal. We had come up against opponents with more money and less conscience, and the IFP had registered a victory.
In homes across KwaZulu Natal, and particularly here in Zululand, our victory was celebrated. We congratulated each other in the streets, and clapped each other on the back whenever we met. Our joy was absolutely appropriate. But this wasn’t enough. We needed to gather in a venue like this, called together by the leadership, to really feel and enjoy the sense of celebration.
It was important to me and to our leaders that we create the space to truly thank you. We wanted to express our appreciation to each one of you, from all our constituencies across Zululand. To those who campaigned, to those who organised meetings, to those who transported voters, and to those who came out and voted; we say thank you.
What you did, you did for the IFP. But you also did it for South Africa, because when you strengthened the IFP’s voice in governance, you gave our country renewed hope that integrity can still win out against corruption, populism and negativity. With your support and with your vote, you restored integrity to leadership. You gave South Africa a real chance to survive.
This might sound dramatic, but it’s the truth. Without a party speaking up for integrity, justice and fairness, South Africa may well have slipped down the path of destruction. Things were headed in that direction. All the warning signs were there: a failing economy, evidence of state capture, gross incompetence in governance, and arrogant leaders who felt entitled to loot public money.
May the 8th gave our country, and particularly this Province, a powerful force for good, a force that is able to push the train back onto the right tracks. You have given your mandate to the right party. We know what to do. We know how to do it. And we’ll get the job done.
I have only one regret from the May 8th elections, and that is the knowledge that we could have done even better. Sadly not everyone gave it their all. We need to face the painful fact that if this had been a local government election, rather than a national and provincial election, the IFP would have lost Nongoma.
Our Mayor of Nongoma has a key position in the Party vis a vis the electoral process. Yet here, and in other places throughout KwaZulu Natal, this election received less enthusiasm from our Councillors than it should have.
I have spoken to all our Councillors since the May 8 elections to correct a misconception that seems to exist. This is the misconception that elections have nothing to do with our Councillors unless they are local government elections. This is utterly mistaken. We all carry the responsibility for campaigning, more so if we hold a salaried position because of the Party.
When it comes to local government elections, everyone goes flat out. Our MPs and MPLs and our senior leadership all campaign for local elections. Even when it comes to by-elections, I am often invited to address the final rally. We do this because we want to see the Party succeed. It has nothing to do with our own positions or whether that specific elections could cost us a job.
I am speaking so strongly on this matter because we need to be fair. If so many work so hard, but a few don’t pull their weight, all of us suffer.
We have seen quite clearly the damage that can be done by a few individuals, or even by just one. Our Provincial Elective Conference last weekend was a resounding success. The massive attendance proved what everyone is talking about when they point to a resurgent IFP. With the number of people attending, we were reminded of the IFP at the zenith of its power.
With such a large crowd, one could expect some incidents. Yet by and large the delegates were very well behaved. They listened to the speakers. Indeed, you could have heard a pin drop while conference was being addressed. Due process was followed in every regard and every issue was interrogated and resolved in the Provincial Council on Friday night.
Unfortunately, there were one or two disturbances that night which likely involved the consumption of alcohol. But on the whole, the meeting was remarkably peaceable. Voting went on into the early hours of the morning, and in the end it produced a wholly democratic outcome.
We were shocked therefore when Mr Zungu of the Osizweni branch in Amajuba went to Ukhozi FM and spewed all sort of false allegations of wrong being done in the election of our provincial leadership. He claimed to be speaking for a group of dissatisfied Party members.
This nonsense whet the appetite of our opponents, and had certain analysts and journalists licking their lips, eager to report on problems in the Party, whether they genuinely existed or not. Ironically, the vicious way this matter was reported on shows just how upset our opponents are that Conference went as well as it did.
Mr Zungu was not speaking for anyone else. He was acting on his own initiative, for his own purposes. His branch was quick to suspend him and to request that disciplinary action be taken against him, as he did not have the support of his branch to do what he did. In fact, people are quite fed up with him and have made that clear. This is not the first time Mr Zungu has created a stir at one of our conferences.
The trouble is not just the damage this does to the Party’s image in the public eye, but how it encourages our opponents to create similar upsets at the series of conferences that still lie ahead. We will need to guard against infiltration by trouble-makers at our Youth Brigade Conference, our Women’s Brigade Conference and even at the internal gathering of all our structures that will take place before our National Elective Conference.
The IFP’s resurgence does not sit well with everyone. It has our opponents on edge. We must protect the gains we have made and ensure that the IFP can grow even more, and even faster. The growth of the IFP is good for South Africa. It’s good for democracy. It’s good for the fight against corruption at the highest levels.
I am sure you will have heard that when it came to finding the right person to chair Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts, President Ramaphosa approached the IFP. SCOPA oversees the expenditure of all public money. It is a watchdog protecting our country against abuse and corruption. The SCOPA Chairperson for the 6th Parliament is now the IFP’s National Chairperson of the Youth Brigade, the Honourable Mr Mkhuleko Hlengwa.
Not only is this a nod to the IFP’s legacy of integrity, but it also speaks volumes about the kind of youth we produce. Young people who grow up in the IFP have a bright future, because they grow up with the right values, opportunities and mentorship.
Throughout the campaign for the May 8th elections, we called on the electorate to help us create social justice and economic justice. We provided a plan for how it can be achieved, and we made commitments as to what the IFP will do in pursuit of justice. That plan and those commitments were set in stone. We had every intention of seeing them through; and that is what we are doing.
The manifestos of other parties were considered pie in the sky. I often heard analysts say that they were simply honey to lure the votes; that they were not intended to be implemented. Indeed, certain manifestoes could not have been implemented, for they were impractical and could well have bankrupted the country.
But the IFP’s manifesto was a working document. It was a blueprint for putting our country back on the right track. In other words, when you voted IFP, you knew what you were voting for and you were guaranteed to get it.
The IFP committed to champion local economic development and to introduce an Unemployment Register in municipalities. That is what we’ll do. We committed to champion support for emerging farmers, and we’re already pushing the provincial government to follow suit.
We committed to getting security for schools and improving the school nutrition scheme. We committed to fight for cheaper medicines, more community social workers and an increase in the Old Age Grant. We committed to fight for gender equality, to see women and children protected and empowered. We committed to get housing support centres into communities, and to pursue greater access to quality, subsidised housing. We committed to champion a healthy and sustainable environment that can support development and meet our energy needs.
The IFP made these and many more commitments, and already we are working to fulfil them.
Although these elections were about national and provincial governance, the IFP has structured its vision and mission to strengthen local government. We understand that the best and most effective governance is achieved from the ground up. It is at local government level, through our municipalities, that people interact face to face with their public representatives. This is where democracy happens at the most fundamental level.
This is why the IFP has always focussed on strong local government and on the devolution of governance powers to the lowest level, so that the people can truly govern.
We have set the stage for 2021 when South Africa will again hold Local Government Elections. It might sound a long way off, but in reality we have about 22 months to mobilise, grow and canvass, if we want to secure good local governance in the next election. I believe that the most important thing we can do right now as a Party, is to grow.
We need to sign up new members and get them active and linked in, at a pace like never before. This is the time for grassroots activism to grow like wildfire, because if we can double the IFP’s support over the next few years, there is a good chance of retaking KwaZulu Natal in the next national and provincial election.
That would be cause for even greater celebration! For now though, let us put our shoulders to the wheel. We have secured an electoral success. Our efforts have paid off. We are well-positioned now to speak with the voice of the people, calling for social justice and economic justice to be done.
As we move forward with this important work, I want you to know that we don’t take your support for granted. We appreciate you and we value this partnership. The victory of the IFP on May the 8th was a victory of the people. It was your victory. That is worth celebrating.
I thank you.