Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP
President Of The Inkatha Freedom Party
I am filled with hope as I come to Nongoma today. Every time I visit, I sense a rising tide of support for the IFP. When I came here in December, to welcome new members, I urged you to become actively involved in mobilising support for the coming elections. When I visited last July, again to welcome new members, I impressed upon you the need to strengthen our branches so that the voice of the IFP would be strong and loud.
You have heeded my call, and the IFP has regained ground in Nongoma. This is good news. I want to thank you for partnering with the IFP to restore a leadership you can trust in this municipality. Already the IFP has won by-elections in Nongoma, and we have seen more and more people marking their mark for the IFP. Thousands have made the good decision to come home, or to join the IFP family. We have received members from the NFP as well as from the ANC. We are growing in number and strength.
This bodes well for the August 3rd elections. This will be the fourth local government election under democracy. It will give you the chance to choose a better leadership for the Nongoma Local Municipality and for the Zululand District. Just 10 days from now, the power will be placed firmly in your hands to restore the IFP to government. There are many good reasons to vote, and many more to vote IFP.
The past five years have not been easy. In 2011, when the NFP went into coalition with the ANC to take over Nongoma Municipality, we all suffered a setback. Suddenly service delivery took a backseat to politics, as the NFP tried to keep its councillors in line. Many were unhappy about the coalition. It wasn’t something decided by the rank and file of the NFP. It was a decision taken at the top, purely to secure power.
Suddenly by-elections were riddled with problems. The IEC exposed electoral fraud in Nongoma and by-elections had to be postponed. Apparently our opponents were willing to do anything to keep the upper hand, even manipulate the outcome of an election. It shows how little respect they have for a genuinely democratic outcome.
Then, in 2013, a by-election was supposedly won by the NFP. But it turned out the Special Votes hadn’t been counted because the electoral officer, a member of the ANC-aligned SADTU, had failed to stamp the ballots. We approached the IEC, and they agreed that, had all the votes been counted, the IFP would have been declared the winner. Unfortunately, instead of rectifying the error immediately, the IEC referred the matter to the Electoral Court, which took another six months to rule. Just days before the national election of 2014, the Court found that the IFP had actually won.
In that same by-election, the ANC openly campaigned using state resources, which the IEC has declared to be unethical and unjust. The Premier actually admitted on Ukhozi FM that provincial government had decided to go to Nongoma because of the by-election. Suddenly there was service delivery and lots of entertainment, as though votes could just be bought.
It is clear from all this that political manoeuvring has been extensive to keep the IFP away from Nongoma. But you cannot keep a family apart. The IFP has been part of Nongoma for decades. You know us and trust us. We have a partnership of good governance that has never been broken, because the IFP serves everyone, regardless of their political affiliation. Thus we have continued to work for you since 2011, meeting your needs and applying pressure on the municipal council to fulfil the promises made by the NFP and ANC.
We did this in every municipality, because wherever we have councillors you can be sure that good governance is being pursued. People know this, which is why voters didn’t wait for 2016 to restore the IFP to leadership. In five municipalities, the IFP has been restored to the helm through by-elections. While support for the NFP declined in by-elections across KwaZulu Natal, support for the IFP steadily grew. We even managed to take wards away from the ANC.
Within the Zululand District, the IFP-led municipality of Ulundi remains a lighthouse of good governance and service delivery. For eight years in a row, Ulundi has received clean audit reports from the Auditor General, while municipalities co-governed by the ANC and NFP have fallen. Some have been placed under administration. Others have been highlighted by the Auditor General as inefficient and underperforming.
And you have paid the price. Municipal governance is about water, electricity, roads, sanitation and development. It’s about issues that affect you directly. So when a municipality is not performing, it is your needs that go unmet. Let’s talk about your needs, because you are the reason we are here.
One of the greatest needs in Nongoma is undoubtedly drought relief. Many subsistence farmers have lost their livestock, and their crops have failed. Families are going hungry, and poverty is deepening. I know the pain of losing livestock. I am not unaffected, for I too am a farmer. I have watched my cattle get thinner and thinner. I have seen them die. The repercussions of this drought for struggling families are going to continue. I have lost more than 100 cattle.
We thus need an urgent intervention that assists communities on the ground. I would have thought that having the ANC in the municipal council would have enabled them to secure assistance from provincial and national government more easily. There must surely be some benefit to having the ANC share governance. But it seems that nothing is done any quicker or any better by having ANC councillors. And yet some of the senior leaders of the NFP made an agreement with the senior leadership of the ANC to vote for the ANC.
Healthcare is another urgent need. On Friday I attended the closing ceremony of a week-long international Aids conference at the Durban International Convention Centre. Thousands of delegates from around the world converged in South Africa to discuss the fight against HIV/Aids. Our country’s successes were highlighted, as well as our failures, and new ways were sought to beat this disease in all our communities.
HIV/Aids has taken a high toll among our people for several decades. It has reduced our work force, bereaved our families, burdened our healthcare system, and stolen the lives of the young and strong. It has also left us with hundreds of thousands of orphans, whose care has been taken over by family members; most often their grandmothers.
Tragically, there is little support for those who take on foster children. While a foster care grant is available, it is not easy to access. It requires investigations and reports by a social worker and it must go through the courts. There are far too few qualified social workers, and the delays in our court system mean that grandmothers wait, sometimes for years, to access a foster care grant.
What do they do while they wait? These children must be fed and clothed. They have suffered the trauma of losing their parents, but now they suffer the ongoing stress of hunger and poverty. We need a better system; a system that protects vulnerable children, but gets help for their carers from day one. We cannot expect grandmothers who are living on an old age grant to stretch their money any further.
Already it is impossible to meet the needs of one person on a monthly grant of R1200. Life is just too expensive and the cost of everything is rising. Electricity is unaffordable for many households and it’s likely to increase this year. Escalating food prices are forcing families to scale down, skip meals, and eat less healthy, but cheaper, alternatives. There is a long-term cost to this, which will be felt in the budget for healthcare.
It is not just the elderly that are struggling. High unemployment is robbing our youth of any hope for the future. The IFP believes in empowering young people to create their own future. We have always worked to equip the youth with skills that can be used to earn a living. Even during apartheid, we focussed on preparing young people to become the leaders, administrators, journalists, medics and engineers of a liberated South Africa. I secured funding to build the Mangosuthu University of Technology, so that students could acquire the technical skills that would enable them to participate in the economy.
The IFP values the participation of young South Africans and we believe you have a contribution to make to the good governance of your community. We therefore involve the youth in designing municipal development plans. We know that it is important to provide our youth with sports facilities and recreational parks. But we don’t just want to keep them off the streets. We want to get them working.
I was shocked to see cell phone footage of a Nongoma teacher beating matric learners in her classroom. The video was all over the Internet. In this day and age, how can anyone in a position of authority think it is right to beat a young girl? Our youth need to be protected and empowered, not beaten. I want children to be safe wherever they are, whether at school, at home or in the streets. That is why the IFP promotes visible policing and supports the NGOs that are looking after vulnerable children.
That is the job of government. But government is failing. And when you fail a child, you have failed indeed. Nongoma deserves a leadership you can trust. You deserve service delivery, clean governance, and representatives that put your needs first. That is what you will be voting for on August 3rd. I urge you to vote with your head. Don’t let anyone sway your emotions or deceive you with propaganda.
NFP supporters have a difficult decision to make in these elections. Through an administrative error, the NFP missed the IEC’s deadline for payment of election fees. The NFP’s Treasurer has written an open letter, accepting the blame for this terrible mistake and saying that he was under tremendous strain as there had been death threats against him over candidates’ lists.
The IEC had no choice but to disqualify the NFP from participating in the coming elections, as all parties had agreed to the timeframes in advance. The NFP then approached the Electoral Court to overturn the IEC’s decision, but the Court upheld the decision. In a previous case, in which the IFP was barred from contesting elections in Umzumbe in 2011 because we missed a deadline, the Constitutional Court ruled against any leniency. It declared that the integrity of the election process could not be compromised.
Having experienced the pain of being disqualified in the past, the IFP understood the anger and frustration of NFP members. But instead of calling for calm and advising their supporters, senior leaders in the NFP chose to divert attention and blame the IFP. It was alleged that the IFP had sabotaged the NFP. That is clearly not the case. But because these irresponsible allegations came from senior leaders, some NFP supporters thought they were true. Thus we saw protests in the streets of Ulundi, Melmoth and Nongoma. We saw arrests of NFP members, and IFP members being attacked.
I urged the NFP not to pursue this strategy of stirring up anger against the IFP. It is unethical and extremely dangerous. The NFP is in a difficult situation, but nothing will get any better by pointing fingers and making baseless accusations. What matters now is that no one forfeits their right to vote. Voters who wanted to support the NFP will need to choose an alternative. They will need to decide where their support will best serve the needs of service delivery.
Our message to NFP supporters has not changed. From the moment the NFP was formed, we declared that we would never close the door. We would welcome anyone back, and returning members would always find a home in the IFP. The thousands of members who have already returned have found a more unified IFP, and they are making their contribution. There is a place for you in the IFP. We value your voice and we are ready to work for you.
The facts are simple. The IFP talks straight, governs well and runs a clean administration. We have the know-how and we have solutions. We listen. We care. We serve with integrity. If that is the kind of leadership you want for Nongoma, then cast your vote for the IFP.
It’s time to put things right in Nongoma. The IFP is tried and trusted. On August 3rd, let us bring back a leadership that serves your needs. Let’s keep growing the IFP family, because a strong IFP is a strong Nongoma.