Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP
President Of The Inkatha Freedom Party
Makhado Showground: 23 July 2016
I want to thank you for welcoming me today. I have come so that we might talk about the coming Local Government Elections and what they mean for Makhado, and all of Limpopo and North West. There are many options open to you as voters, but the only way to make the right choice is to be equipped with information.
We all read the newspapers and listen to the radio, and we all know about the problems our country faces because of weak leadership, and corruption. But I want you to know the other side; that there are still leaders of integrity serving South Africa. Within the present political landscape, there is still a party you can trust to listen, build and assist. There are still leaders who are in it to serve.
That is why I have come here. I am no stranger to Limpopo, even though my work in our national Parliament and my offices in Durban keep me predominantly moving between the Western Cape and KwaZulu Natal. I am no stranger here because the leadership of the IFP comes from every province, and we have members in every corner of our country. The IFP is a large and diverse family. What unites us is our shared commitment to serving with integrity and protecting the values that build South Africa.
Thus the IFP serves all of South Africa and we care about all South Africans. I am also a traditional leader, and I serve as the traditional Prime Minister to the Zulu monarch and nation. I was raised to understand the important role of traditional leadership in good governance, and I respect traditional social structures. Throughout my life, I have worked to promote and protect the role, powers and functions of traditional leadership, for this institution has faced threats not only under the apartheid regime, but in the last 22 years under democracy.
Despite much lip-service from South Africa’s leaders, we have seen the institution of traditional leadership undermined with one piece of legislation after the next. Instead of empowering traditional leaders to support good governance, legislation has diminished the role, powers and functions of traditional leaders to the point of making us ceremonial figures.
In municipal councils, only a small number of traditional leaders can participate, and while their views must be heard, they need not be listened to. In other words, municipal councils can do the exact opposite of what traditional leaders ask. This is a problem, because the entire institution of traditional leadership is based on consensus and collective wisdom. Traditional leaders convene communities and seek a mandate before they carry your voice into the municipal council. This means that when the municipal council ignores traditional leaders, they are ignoring the will of the people. They are ignoring your voice.
Unfortunately, there are many instances of government ignoring the voice of the people they are meant to serve, not only at municipal level, but at all levels of Government. The ruling party has spoken quite openly about how they see traditional leaders. During the ANC’s centennial celebration in 2012, the President explained how the ANC had used traditional leaders to consolidate power for the ANC. He didn’t say one word about the role, powers and functions of traditional leadership.
President Zuma was in fact the chairperson of the ad hoc Cabinet Committee that met with a delegation of the Coalition of Traditional Leaders on the 30th of November 2000, just days before the first Local Government Elections. In terms of the Municipal Structures Act, South Africa was about to receive wall-to-wall municipalities to govern at local level. But there were obvious clashes in the legislation, between the powers of municipalities and the powers of traditional leadership.
The Coalition of Traditional Leaders, from all provinces, extracted an undertaking from the ad hoc Committee that Chapters 7 and 12 of the Constitution would be amended to ensure that the Municipal Structures Act, and all ensuing legislation, could not obliterate the role, powers and functions of traditional leadership.
Thus the first Local Government Elections went ahead, but the Constitution wasn’t changed. In fact, we are about to have the fourth Local Government Elections under democracy, and still the undertaking to formally protect traditional leadership has not been fulfilled. So when the ruling party comes to traditional leaders, it is difficult to believe that they do so for any other reason than to get votes.
There are other examples of Government not listening to the people. I think that is most profoundly illustrated by what happened in Vuwani, Masia, Tshimbupfe, Davhana, Mashau and Masakona, where protests culminated in the torching of 25 schools. Clearly the people rejected the decision of the Municipal Demarcation Board to merge Vuwani with Malamulele. Why did citizens have to take to the streets and protest, to get their leaders attention?
A high price has been paid by the community. The local economy has been crippled. Learners are suffering as their future is jeopardised. Infrastructure has been destroyed. And tensions between the police and community members are running high. But has Government listened yet? I cannot understand a leadership that fails to listen to the people. That is what democracy means. That is what we fought to secure for so many years. It is the people who must decide how they will be governed.
Fortunately, democracy protects the right of the people to choose their leaders. Not only that, but it protects our right to fire those who are not listening and not serving our needs, and hire those whom we trust. But this happens only once every five years, so we need to grab the opportunity.
Just eleven days from now, we will all be visiting our voting stations and setting a course for local governance for the next five years. Through your vote, you will choose people to represent your voice in Makhado Local Municipality and the Vhembe District Municipality. Throughout Limpopo, decisions will be made for the municipalities of Capricorn, Sekhukune, Mopani and Waterberg. The future of Limpopo will be decided on August 3rd.
I urge you to make a good decision. Local Government Elections are, in some ways, more important than national elections, because this is about the level of governance closest to you. It’s about your day to day needs. It’s about service delivery in your community. This election is about getting things working for you.
Municipalities are not just there to create jobs for a few people. The Makhado Local Municipality pays out more than 262 million Rand a year in salaries. This should translate into an efficient municipality, with competent, skilled and experienced officials. There is no excuse for poor service delivery. While this municipality is one of the better functioning municipalities in Limpopo, there are still problems that shouldn’t exist.
Why, for instance, is there still a housing backlog? There are people in this community who were approved on the housing subsidy system as far back as 2004, but you have not yet received any benefit. You are still waiting. That is not acceptable. No one can claim that they are running an efficient administration when people who are already approved for housing continue to live in poverty day after day after day.
There are also problems with ward committees, which are meant to ensure public participation. They are meant to meet with you regularly, informing you of the work of the municipality and listening to your needs, so that local government will be responsive. But the Mayor has admitted that ward committees in this municipality have been doing the bare minimum required in order to claim out of pocket expenses.
This kind of behaviour is pervasive in municipalities throughout South Africa, because the culture of self-enrichment is entrenched in the ruling party. I will never forget the honesty with which former President Mandela admitted to international journalists that corruption had gained a foothold in the ANC. He said, and I quote, “Little did we suspect that our own people, when they got a chance, would be as corrupt as the apartheid regime. That is one of the things that has really hurt us.”
Corruption and weak leadership have taken a toll on good governance. We can see the effects when we read the Auditor General’s Reports on government at every level. From national departments to local municipalities red flags are continually raised over unauthorised, irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure. There is a lack of skills, integrity and political will to ensure efficient financial management. Moreover, there is tender fraud, cadre deployment, nepotism and outright theft.
It is you that pays the price. When funds are misallocated, stolen or mismanaged, service delivery suffers. If we want to turn this around, the only way to do that is to install a leadership of integrity. It is only when honesty, sound values and servant leadership govern, that needs are properly met.
People are ready to change their vote, because leaders can only fail you that many times before you say enough is enough.
The ruling party knows this. And their competitors know it. Thus the campaign for the coming elections is fierce. You will have political firebrands coming here and stirring up emotions, pretending that more protest and more destruction will get you what you need. There will be people you don’t know, claiming they can do a better job. And there will also be leaders from government, bringing you food parcels and promises, asking you to keep waiting and keep voting for a party that has failed you.
It makes my blood boil when the ruling party abuses state resources to campaign for votes. It is despicable to prey on the needs and vulnerability of struggling people, by suddenly providing services or bringing gifts when it’s time for another election. I always tell people to accept the gifts, because they were bought with your own money. But don’t believe that you need to surrender your vote for a food parcel or blankets. Your vote is your voice. Don’t let anyone buy it.
No matter what they promise for the future, the track record of the past speaks louder. Under a democratic government, South Africa should not have one of the highest rates of unemployment in the world. We should not have millions of citizens living in poverty. We should not have scandals like the dumping of school textbooks. And we should not have families struggling with alcohol and drug abuse just to numb the pain of daily life.
Government has a responsibility to create jobs, ensure development, alleviate poverty, provide quality education, protect the vulnerable, and meet our basic needs. The IFP has been in government at a national, provincial and local level. We have fulfilled these responsibilities, and we have done so with excellence. We have a track record that speaks for itself, so that anyone wanting to know why they should choose the IFP need only consider the clean, efficient and inclusive governance we have already provided.
There are many good reasons to place your trust in the IFP. As you read our manifesto for 2016, you will get a better idea of what we stand for. You can –
TRUST US to drive good governance in every municipality.
TRUST US to make job creation the number one priority of all IFP municipalities.
TRUST US to loosen the grip of corruption and restore integrity and accountability to leadership.
TRUST US to speed up the provision of decent housing, without red tape, illegal tenders or false promises. Everyone needs a home, not just a few!
TRUST US to respect the rule of law and create security in your community so that everyone can be, and feel, safe. Our women and children should feel safe in our streets.
TRUST US to select candidates who will work for you. All IFP candidates will sign a contract of good governance, which the party will ensure is adhered to.
TRUST US to deliver services to all in the spirit of Ubuntu, not just to the few at the expense of the many.
TRUST US to declare drought relief an emergency, and to prioritise clean drinking water for all.
TRUST US to help you get food on the table, and healthcare for your family.
TRUST US to speed up the construction of roads and bridges, to provide safe transport and to change the current policing policy with high-visibility policing instead of entrapment.
TRUST US to partner with schools to create a better learning environment for our children.
All of the IFP’s candidates for the coming elections have taken a pledge of good governance. Even before they become your councillors, they have made a commitment to be honest, accountable and available to you at all times. The IFP will support their work and constantly check that they are doing what they have committed to do. Our councillors are ambassadors of the IFP. They are carrying our name and our legacy. We therefore demand high standards and service excellence from all of them.
When you go to the polls on August 3rd, I ask you to consider very carefully what you want for the future. This election is the chance to install a leadership of integrity, a leadership that listens and knows how to get the job done.
When you vote IFP, you install councillors that respect your voice. I therefore invite you to join the many across our country who are calling for an IFP leadership to set things right. The IFP is growing in number and strength. This is good for South Africa, and good for you. Because when the IFP governs, your voice is heard.
I thank you.