PRINCE MANGOSUTHU BUTHELEZI MP
PRESIDENT EMERITUS AND PARLIAMENTARY LEADER
OF THE INKATHA FREEDOM PARTY
This moment is usually reserved for light heartedness, as we wish one another well for the festive season, and reflect on our shared celebrations. It is usually our Chief Whip up here, delivering these remarks.
So when you see me rising to this podium, I am sure you wonder if it means that a big announcement is coming. The answer, Honourable Colleagues, is no. Not yet!
Our Chief Whip, the Honourable Mr Singh, is engaged in meetings in Johannesburg, which should have left today’s task to his Deputy, the Honourable Mr Ngwezi. But the IFP’s Caucus believes that the atmosphere in our country does not lend itself to light heartedness.
This is, in fact, a moment in which we dare not slip easily into banter and back- slapping. The end of this year brings with it dire circumstances; not for the majority of our people, but for all our people. South Africa is in crisis.
With an economy on the verge of collapse, we have some very serious introspection to do during the coming recess. More than that, we have some very serious actions to take. We cannot sit back and put everything on hold until February 2020. There is just no space to postpone making the decisions and performing the actions that are needed to save South Africa.
What we heard in yesterday’s debate on 16 Days of Activism struck us to the heart. Our women and children are suffering, and the dark side of the festive season tells us that suffering is about to increase.
We worry each year about road carnage, but we should be equally concerned by those who become victims of substance abuse in their own homes, at the hands of partners and fathers, at this time of year. There is something broken in this society. And while we live under the enormous pressure of poverty, inequality and injustice, it will be impossible to fix.
This is a bitter dose of reality, and it is all the more unpalatable for being served at the closing of our work. We have faced this reality again and again in the course of our debates and questions this Term. How painful it is to carry this truth into the festive season.
But that is our burden as servants of the people. We carry this burden on behalf of South Africa.
Honourable Speaker, we thank you, and the Presiding Officers, as well as the Chief Whips, and all the staff of Parliament who do the background work that enables us to keep going. We wish you strength and rest.
In the busyness of the coming festive season, let us remember not only our own needs, but the needs of those around us. May no one in our communities be lonely or without food. May no one weep or sigh. Whatever we are able to do, for anyone, let us do it.
Because as much as our work in this House effects sweeping change for South Africa, our work as individuals should have an impact on our neighbours, our communities and our families. If we call ourselves leaders, let us lead with integrity. Not just in the limelight, but in smallest gesture that nobody sees. In that spirit of servant leadership, I wish you well.