PRINCE MANGOSUTHU BUTHELEZI MP
PRESIDENT OF THE INKATHA FREEDOM PARTY
Daggakraal: 3 July 2016
Thank you for coming out today to meet with me and the leadership of the IFP. Yesterday, as we travelled around Daggakraal and visited families in their homes, I was struck by the generosity of spirit in this community. You face hardship every day, yet your hearts are still open to receive a message of hope. That is very encouraging. The hope of a thriving democracy is alive in this place. Today, I want to ignite that hope so that together we can secure a fundamental change.
There is no question that change is needed, in Daggakraal, in Gert Sibande District Municipality, and in all of Mpumalanga. Change is needed across South Africa, for the same problems exist everywhere. Poverty, unemployment, crime and poor service delivery mar every province of our country. We should be much further in our journey away from these problems, for we have lived under a democracy for 22 years. But those tasked with governing South Africa, and administering our democracy, have failed to do what they should have.
Over the years, they let corruption seep into governance so that now it pervades every level of government, from national departments, to provincial and local government. When we first began to see the evidence of corruption in the ruling party, some leaders were honest about it. President Mandela himself spoke to international journalists and lamented (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.”
But two decades later, corruption has become so entrenched in the ruling party that even their own members don’t trust the President. Scandals are just everyday news.
South Africa’s own President walks under a shadow of corruption charges; charges that are yet to be tested in a court of law. Yet under this kind of leadership, the message is clear that abuse of power, fraud, self-enrichment and laziness will all go unchallenged. The door has been opened to corrupt and greedy officials at every level.
And you pay the price.
Because the result is an unproductive, weak and uncaring administration. Instead of responsive public representatives, you get councillors who fill seats for five years without once acting on your concerns. Instead of a municipality that works for you, you get local governance that is underfunded, mismanaged and paralysed to take any initiative. Something has to change.
Clearly we cannot get government working, unless we change the leadership that administers government. Those to whom you entrust governance must be leaders of integrity. They must be servant leaders, honest, accountable and willing to sacrifice. These are the kind of leaders that won democracy. They are the kind of leaders upon which the hope of freedom was built.
I knew and worked with many of these leaders, for I am from that generation that struggled for our country. I rallied under the banner “Free Mandela” and challenged the apartheid regime. I was mentored by Inkosi Albert Luthuli, and studied under Professor ZK Matthews. It was a natural path for me to follow, for I was born into our liberation struggle. My grandfather, King Dinuzulu was imprisoned and exiled for seeking freedom from colonial rule. My uncle, Dr Pixley ka Isaka Seme, was the founder of the South African National Native Congress, which became the ANC.
I feel this sense of history as I come to Daggakraal, for Dr Seme farmed this soil. He bought two farms here, encouraging black farmers to become independent by buying their own land. I recall the day that the IFP erected the tombstone on Dr Seme’s grave. I remember the kind of leaders who started our struggle. But as the struggle continues, I find myself ashamed of the leaders who carry that legacy. Today’s struggle, for economic freedom and social justice, is waged under a leadership that is deeply compromised. No wonder there is widespread distrust in our country today.
A month from today, on August 3rd, South Africans will go to the polls and vote in a local government election. You will choose a leadership for your municipality; a leadership that will govern for the next five years. It is a pivotal moment, because on that day your future will be decided. The power to fire and hire will be placed in your hands. This is the fundamental expression of democracy.
But in many places, there is just no excitement about these elections. People are looking at the various parties and asking, “Who can I trust?” You have been let down by your leaders. They have failed you, used you and ignored you. And corruption is so deeply entrenched that trusting anyone seems foolish. There is a danger that people will not vote, or that they will vote for a party they don’t even trust, just for the sake of voting.
I want to reason with you today. This election is just too important to make any mistakes. It will determine how things are done in Daggakraal, and in every other municipality, from this point on. It is therefore essential that a leadership of integrity is installed through your vote, so that a real partnership can begin between the people and their representatives in government. I have therefore come with a simple message that answers your question of who to trust.
Trust us. Trust the IFP.
The IFP has been in governance for 41 years. For 19 years, we administered KwaZulu under the harshest conditions of apartheid. For five years we were in national government, serving democracy through the Government of National Unity. For another five, I continued as the national Minister of Home Affairs. For ten years, the IFP governed KwaZulu Natal, laying a foundation of sound policies and intensive development. For 22 years, we have administered municipalities, both local and district.
Throughout all of this, the IFP has stood out as a leadership of integrity. We have been honest with the people we serve, never making promises we could not keep, and always working through a partnership with communities. Our track record of good governance is a legacy of which I am extremely proud. We place strong values at the core of everything we do, and all our officials understand that they will be held to a high standard. We have guarded against corruption, and rooted it out wherever it arose.
Thus the IFP of today remains the same in character as the IFP of 41 years ago. We are still in this to serve our country. We still believe in putting people first, and we are champions of governance from the ground up. That means listening to you, empowering you, and speaking with your voice.
The IFP understands that local government is about more than providing water, electricity and sanitation. These are the basics that must be done. But local government must also create an enabling environment for growth and development. It cannot operate without the full participation of those it serves. To achieve this, municipalities must have councillors who are responsive to your needs and who respect you.
Councillors must also be competent, able to perform their duties with excellence. There is no excuse for underperforming councillors. Municipal officials and councillors receive bursaries and training. If they still don’t perform, they shouldn’t be employed. Because if people aren’t doing their jobs, your needs will go unmet. You will pay the price.
There are issues of serious concern in the Dr Pixley ka Isaka Seme Local Municipality. Many of these issues were raised by the Auditor General. Others are exposed in the latest Annual Report of the Municipality. According to the report, for instance, 15 finance officials didn’t meet the prescribed competency levels. The Auditor General has called for an intervention in the financial management of the municipality, because there are serious problems with compliance, record keeping, reporting and internal auditing. Poor financial management opens the door to fruitless and wasteful expenditure, and also enables theft of municipal funds.
There is evidence of poor financial planning, where the amounts budgeted and the amounts actual used are vastly different. There are budget variances of over 200% and even 500%. That money doesn’t come out of thin air. It must be taken from somewhere else, which means a different aspect of service delivery suffers. The entire budget for sports and recreation, for instance, was reallocated to water, sanitation and roads. The municipality then received an infrastructure grant from Government, specifically for sports and recreation, but that too was reallocated elsewhere.
Thus your children continue to play in the dirt, next to dilapidated sports facilities and unmaintained community parks. There is nowhere for young people to safely engage in sports and recreation. With high unemployment and nothing to occupy our youth, it is hardly surprising that we see so many teenage pregnancies and widespread HIV/Aids. Moreover there are no child care or aged care programmes in this municipality. Our most vulnerable citizens are left to look after themselves.
Government is failing your families. Surely the local municipality should receive guidance and assistance from the Gert Sibande District Municipality. Yet the District Municipality is also not functioning as it should. There too, the Auditor General has expressed concerns over the leadership; that it is ineffective and provides inadequate oversight. Indeed, the Auditor General has called for an intervention in the action plans of leadership at district level.
In the end, you are directly affected by weak leadership in municipal governance. Look at the basic services of water, sanitation and roads, which consumed so much of the municipal budget. The ANC is fond of saying that they have a good story to tell. But I can’t see how they can boast about efficient water supply when many families only have access to a public tap in walking distance from their home. That is just not good enough. Far too many households are still using pit toilets. And in the last few years, no new tarred or gravel roads have been constructed, very little maintenance has been done on existing roads – many of which need resurfacing – and stormwater drainage is not being maintained or upgraded.
Street lights aren’t being fixed. Broken water meters aren’t replaced. Traffic signs aren’t being installed, and there is no budget to buy road-marking paint. There is no refuse collection in Daggakraal or on any of the farms, and where there is refuse collection it is irregular because the vehicles and equipment the municipality uses are old and often break down. The local fire-fighting service is so inadequate that it takes on average 50 minutes for fire-fighting services to reach rural areas. Imagine the devastation a fire can wreak to a farm, or to your home, in that amount of time.
None of this is as it should be. But no surveys are conducted on public satisfaction with municipal services, so how is local government being responsive to your needs? They are not even listening to your voice. They should be telling you that a subsidy is available for indigent families. Many households who qualify for this subsidy haven’t applied. You are left to battle on alone.
I know that many families rely on social grants. I am proud of the fact that it was the IFP who first introduced a social grant, in the former KwaZulu Government. But today’s social grants are not enough to meet the nutritional requirements of our families. R735 won’t buy a month’s worth of groceries. And maintaining proper nutrition is essential for our children, the elderly, and those who are HIV positive. Government thus needs to assist our families to become more self-sufficient, through subsistence farming and investment in agriculture.
Agriculture is in fact one of the areas where we could create substantial employment.
There needs to be greater investment in skills development, in training cooperatives and assisting small businesses. All of this will help alleviate hardship. The municipality receives grants for training, but the number of unemployed youth capacitated through these grants is very low. Learnership programmes have been delayed by poor financial management.
Clearly a new leadership is needed in local government, to get things working as they should. Thanks God, the power to install a new leadership is in your hands. I urge you to vote for a leadership of integrity that knows how to get the job done. Vote for the IFP. There are many good reasons to place your trust in us. As you read our manifesto, 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 next month’s election 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.
Now the power rests in your hands. It is up to you to change the future of Mpumalanga. I urge you to vote on August 3rd. Come out in your numbers and make your mark for a new leadership in local governance. Things will only change if you change your vote. Vote IFP!