IFP Rally in Abaqulusi




I come to Abaqulusi today fresh from a by-election victory in Umlalazi, where the IFP took the ward away from the ANC. As voters were casting their votes in Umlalazi this week, the ANC’s Provincial Secretary boasted to the media, saying, “We are very confident we will retain this ward. People trust the ANC.”

Well, I believe that Abraham Lincoln said, “You can fool some of the people some of the time, but not all of the people all of the time.” It is the IFP that the people trust. Honesty is the trademark of the IFP. Just stealing our by-line won’t change the facts. People trust the IFP. They proved it with their votes. As one of the newspapers said, the ANC keeps getting a bloody nose in by-elections. Again and again, the IFP is winning.

I am encouraged by this, because I know that South Africa needs a dramatic change. For years we have needed to restore moral leadership. But we have now gone beyond the point where just tipping the scales would be enough. We need to keep moving wards away from the ANC, and into the good leadership of the IFP. We need to dramatically change the political landscape of KwaZulu Natal. Our message must be clear.

This country belongs to the people. This Province belongs to the people. We won’t be dictated to by a leadership that has lost its moral compass. We won’t allow KwaZulu Natal to be swallowed whole by a party that is divided, corrupt and dishonest. For too long some of the people have been fooled. But it is time to wake up. This is our Province. And we demand honest leaders.

I come to you today with fiery words, telling it like it is, because I won’t stand by and watch my people suffer. I have served my nation for far too long to allow anyone to ignore the needs of the poor and the cry of the struggling. My intention for my nation is to see good leaders applying every ounce of their strength to assist, empower, develop and strengthen all our people. I believe that you deserve servant leaders, totally committed to bringing solutions.

Here in ward 18 of Abaqulusi, you had that kind of leader. This community was served by an exceptional councillor, wholly committed to the values and ideals of the IFP. Councillor Martin Mtshali believed in empowering individuals and strengthening families. He believed in teaching self-help and self-reliance. He believed in drawing the community into the process of governance, by asking questions, listening to answers and seeking advice. He was an outstanding leader.

It will not be easy for Mr Zephaniah Thwala to fill the shoes of Councillor Mtshali. But he will have the full backing of the IFP. We as the leadership of the IFP support Mr Thwala as your candidate for this ward. We are committed to giving you someone who is able to continue Councillor Mtshali’s good work. It would be a terrible tragedy to see everything that Councillor Mtshali did, suddenly undone by someone who takes their orders from another party. Councillor Mtshali worked hard on your behalf. Let us protect the gains he won, and take his work forward through Mr Thwala.

When I sing the praises our late former Mayor, I know there are some who will quietly grumble that we in the leadership pushed him out. But that is not true. We had full confidence in Mayor Mtshali and we did everything we could to assist when allegations were made by the Department of Education. We insisted that the matter be pushed for appeal, but that process was delayed. In the meantime, the Electoral Commission has its own regulations, and we could not continue with uncertainty of this kind. We were obliged to ask our Mayor to step down.

He did this with characteristic humility. He continued to serve, with the same energy and efficiency, as Councillor in this ward, providing his exceptional leadership even as our opponents continued to attack him. They used the opportunity to denigrate the IFP, pretending that our Councillor was somehow corrupt when in truth there was never a single negative word to be said against him beyond this matter with the Department. And it was a matter that could never be resolved, because Councillor Mtshali suddenly passed away.

He was used to being attacked by our opponents. In the first Local Government Elections, seventeen years ago, Mr Mtshali was elected as Mayor of Vryheid. Shortly thereafter, a grenade was thrown into his house. Thanks God, he survived. And he was not intimidated. Indeed his passion for serving was multiplied, for he realised what we were up against. He could not accept the possibility that our people would be led by the kind of thugs that would try to kill their opponents.

It is tragic that even now, so many years into democracy, we must still have things like the Moerane Commission of Enquiry into Political Violence in KwaZulu Natal. These days, political violence is intra-party. Comrades within the ruling party have turned against each other, vying for positions and power, and the old violence that they sanctioned against opponents is now being turned against each other.

If people are willing to kill for power, they will certainly have no qualms about cheating. Even the Secretary General of the ANC, Mr Gwede Mantashe, has warned that vote-buying has become a typical trend in the ANC. We have seen this time and again, particularly in by-elections. When voter registration opens, people from outside a ward are bribed and bussed in to register to vote. On election day, they are bussed in again, so that their fraudulent votes can swing the outcome.

It is in fact a criminal offence to vote in a ward where you don’t reside. When people allow themselves to be bribed, they risk arrest as criminals. The law takes this very seriously, because democracy is premised on the right of the people to choose their own leaders; not to have others choose for them.

I was proud of the people of Jozini when a by-election was held and the ANC started bussing people in from outside the ward. Our opponents were so brazen, in fact, that they even bussed in people from across the border, from Mozambique, to vote in the Jozini by-election. But the people of Jozini understood their democratic rights. They were vigilant, and when they saw people voting whom they didn’t know, they alerted our Party agents. Thus the entire fraudulent scheme was exposed, and the by-election was postponed, so that the people of Jozini would have their rights respected.

Electoral fraud is a symptom of the sordid corruption gripping our country. It needs to be rooted out. And the only way to do that is to ensure that we all stay vigilant. On Wednesday, when you go to vote, I urge you to keep your eyes wide open. If you see people voting who don’t live in this ward, report it to our Party agents, to the Electoral Officer or even the Police. Protect your right to choose your own leader for ward 18.

It is very important that we get mature leaders to be Party agents in the coming by-election. It really pays dividends when we have Party agents who are clued up, who know what they are doing, and who know what to watch for. If our Party agents are slack, electoral fraud is bound to happen. So we need a high calibre of leadership filling that position on Wednesday. This is not the kind of job you can be semi-committed to, because we know that marked ballots are usually slipped in just after dark, when everyone starts to relax.

Let us not be caught napping. This by-election is just too important. You can be sure that the people who keep getting bloody noses from the IFP will do their damnedest to take this ward from us. So let’s put up a fight. The IFP has fought and won in Abaqulusi. We have fought and won in Nongoma. We have fought and won in Ulundi. The district of Zululand is back in the hands of the IFP. Governance is back with the people you trust.

So let’s strengthen the IFP in the coming by-election so that a clear message will be sent that the people of Abaqulusi demand honest leadership. When voting stations open at 7 o’clock on Wednesday morning, make sure you are ready to cast your vote for the IFP. Whether you vote at Velankosi Primary School, Nhliziyonhle Primary School, or in the tent opposite Ikhethel on the vacant land in Mkhumbane, make sure your vote is a vote for the IFP. In this way, we can strengthen Abaqulusi.

This by-election is really about you. It’s about getting your needs met; about securing good governance for your community. It matters who wins on the 6th of December, because the councillor that serves in this ward will be the person you go to when things need to get done.

If your child’s school needs maintenance, or there is no running water in your home, if you need to report abuse of a woman or child in your community, if you’re struggling to get electricity, or the transport service in your area is failing you, you can talk to Mr Zephaniah Thwala. Install him as your councillor, and he will carry your voice straight into the municipal council.

I know that you had great confidence in Councillor Mtshali. The IFP won this ward with 54% of the vote in the Local Government Elections. You expressed confidence in the IFP to choose the right leader for ward 18, and we gave you an excellent leader. I must say that of all the constituencies we have across this province, none of them was more diligent in reporting back to the Party. We always knew what was happening here in ward 18 and we could support the work being done. You have raised the bar in this ward, and I hope it will stay high because the IFP wins again.

I have spoken to you very directly today, and I want to continue in that vein. Some serious allegations have been made against the Deputy Mayor and the matter is now before the courts. Some people have been quick to exploit this chance to attack the IFP, claiming that we should fire the Deputy Mayor straight away. But the IFP is no stranger to being attacked. We have seen allegations being made before, even against senior leaders, which have proven to be baseless once they are tested in court.

I know that there are leaders in this country who run away from their day in court. But the IFP believes that everyone should answer to allegations and have a chance to prove their innocence, if they are indeed innocent. We also follow the prescripts of the law that says everyone is innocent until proven guilty. This matter needs to be finalised through the courts. If the court finds that there is any truth to the allegations, the IFP will certainly act. We don’t protect people who are proven to be dishonest, corrupt or immoral.

Moreover, we are vigilant to protect the rights of the vulnerable. In any matter that concerns abuse or exploitation, particularly of women or children, the IFP ensures that justice is done. Our opponents like to take pot-shots because they know the IFP has a rock solid track record when it comes to protecting and promoting human rights. It was, after all, under my leadership that the Code of Zulu Law was changed during apartheid, the moment we were granted limited powers to legislate. We changed the law to ensure that women were no longer minors, that they could own and inherit property, become amakhosi and preside over traditional courts.

Women are at the heart of the IFP. Our women have always been the strongest political activists, leading from the front and giving us all a good example of the power of self-help and self-reliance. I am proud of our women and I will fight to protect them. I know that on Wednesday the first people to vote will be women. They will be up early, as they always are to take care of our families, and they will get to the voting stations; because women understand the power of choice.

Democracy grants us the right to choose. I urge you to exercise that right. Go and vote. Choose wisely. Vote for the IFP!

I thank you.