Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP
President Of The Inkatha Freedom Party
KwaDayeni, Nongoma: 12 July 2015
I am always inspired when I speak to a group of politically-minded, courageous patriots; people who are taking their future into their own hands.
It is easy to become discouraged in our country today. Just turn on the radio, and you hear about corruption in government. Open a newspaper and you read about economic decline. Walk down the street, and you encounter poverty, hardship, despair and inequality. It is easy, in these circumstances, to believe that nothing will ever get better and that nothing can be done. But that is far from the truth.
Changing these circumstances to reflect the hope of democracy, freedom and equality is within our power. We have the right, and the ability, to stand up and make a difference; challenging corruption, working for development, and reigniting hope.
I see four kinds of people in our country today. The first are the ones who have given up, who accept the decline of South Africa. The second are the ones who have climbed on board with corruption, thinking that if someone is going to benefit unfairly, it may as well be them. The third are the ones who are complaining loudly and demanding better this and better that. Theirs is the voice of entitlement.
But the fourth are the people like you and I who are determined to make a difference through our own contribution, and to set South Africa back on a path of stability, equality, morality, order and justice. It is these people who inspire me to continue serving in the leadership in my nation. It is you who give me hope that we will yet wrestle this country back from those who are dragging it to the brink of disaster.
Today, the IFP is growing by the addition of new members who recognise themselves in this fourth category of people. When I speak about people of vision and hope, people of courage, people with strong values, and people who are willing to work for South Africa, something inside tells you, “That’s me.” Today you are joining a team of like-minded people, and I am pleased to personally welcome you to the IFP family.
Thank you for making this good and wise decision to partner with the IFP. I know that very few of you are joining a political party for the first time today. Rather, you have come to the IFP from the ranks of other parties; parties who have disappointed you in one way or another. So I am not speaking to politically neutral individuals. You already know the value of being involved in politics and being part of a political party. What you may not know, however, if how the IFP is different.
In the IFP, everyone has a role to play and everyone’s contribution is valued and welcome. We don’t ask you to make up the numbers, toe the line, and just vote once every five years. IFP members are actively involved in every aspect of the party. I invite you, even today, to become an organiser for the IFP and to start, right off the bat, recruiting new members and setting up branches. Take the initiative, run with ideas, generate interest, and make the contribution you know you are able to make. You have a place in the IFP, and we value what you bring to the Party.
The other way in which the IFP is different is that we’ll tell you the truth. Lies can be very effective at keeping people motivated for a short amount of time. But they don’t put food on the table, they don’t get you jobs, and they have no place in the IFP. We prefer to tell it like it is, and then find a solution together; because you can only really work with the facts. You deserve a leadership that is honest with you; a leadership you can trust.
You also deserve leaders who are available, approachable and open. You deserve to know what is going on in your own party, and you have a right to influence how things are done. I therefore invite you to increase your own level of involvement. Being a member of the IFP means more than carrying a membership card. It means you have the right, and the opportunity, to become a party agent, an election volunteer and a leader in your community.
In just a few months’ time, early in 2016, South Africa will be holding another Local Government Election. These elections are somehow more important than national and provincial elections, for they elect the people you will deal with directly in your municipality. Through these elections, you choose the representatives who will take your call, listen to your problem, and drive forward the solution. You’re choosing the person you most want to work with in this first level of democratic governance.
At the same time, through your vote, you are preventing those who don’t have your best interests at heart from gaining power and holding sway over your community. It is, as I said, a very important election, and it will determine the next five years of local governance. Based on this one vote, you will either empower a leader you can trust, or give your power away to someone who toes the line of a party focussed only on self-enrichment and consolidating power.
Because of the importance of these Local Government Elections, the IFP is already campaigning. We are already impressing upon people the urgency of getting registered to vote. We are already upping the activity of our branches, and increasing the number of branches we have everywhere. Indeed, our focus is on the strength of our branches, for we know from experience that wherever our branches are strong, the IFP does well in elections.
We saw this most recently in the by-elections at Mtubatuba, where the IFP engaged a fierce battle with opponents who have little integrity, but a lot of money. We saw them bus in big wigs and pour taxpayers’ money into development projects just before the by-elections, as they now commonly tend to do. Of course, as soon as the elections were over, we saw them roll out of town and service delivery collapsed once again.
The IFP didn’t have the resources to mount a huge campaign in Mtubatuba. But we have honest leaders, active members, a sound track-record, and the ability to partner with people over the long-term. Armed with this, we won several wards in Mtubatuba. But we realised after those by-elections that there is a clear pattern. In places where the IFP has strong and active branches, the IFP gets votes and support. In places where our branches are spread thin, our opponents were able to take more ground and support for the IFP suffered.
Every political party understands this fact. Every political party is focussed on strengthening their branches ahead of 2016. But the IFP is not interested just in numbers. We are interested in the people who make up our branches; in getting them involved and seeing good change in their lives. We are interested in strengthening the IFP so that your partnership with the IFP can yield ever greater results for the benefit of Nongoma, KwaZulu Natal and South Africa.
I therefore urge you to get more involved, and to bring new members into IFP branches. Our Constitution has set the minimum number of members per branch at 150. But there is no upper limit. Branches can grow as big as we want them to, and indeed a thriving branch is one that keeps growing. A branch that constantly attracts new members is a branch that is vibrant and active. Those are the kind of branches the IFP wants, because those are the branches that make the biggest impact in the lives of our people.
One of the key branch activities that should be happening now is the registering of voters for 2016. This is something we need to do now, and keep doing, until the IEC announces the last day of voter registration. If we wait for that last opportunity and only register people then, it will be too late. Get people registered now, draw them in, get them involved, and create a sound relationship that carries into 2016, 2017, 2018 and beyond.
We’re not just in it for the votes. But the votes count. If we fail to get the votes, the IFP may as well pack it in, for our influence in Nongoma will be destroyed. We are not dealing with fair-playing opponents, neither are we on a level playing field. Electoral fraud has become an established strategy of our opponents. We have witnessed them registering people to vote in places where they do not live. We have seen vote-buying, and all manner of shenanigans.
This is not just an IFP complaint. The Independent Electoral Commission has had to postpone by-elections several times because electoral fraud was uncovered. So we need to be vigilant and know what to look for to ensure that elections are kept free and fair. We need party agents who are trained and know what to do when they see something suspicious.
I invite you today, as you join the IFP, to join a branch, become an election volunteer and consider becoming a party agent for 2016. Then, as you leave this place, start talking about the IFP, start mobilising support, generating interest, and bringing in new members. It’s easy to talk about something you’re excited about, and the IFP brand is one worth getting excited about.
For forty years, we have been able to weather the storms. We have withstood every attempt to destroy us, and we are still standing strong, pointing the way to a better future. We know how to achieve it and we’re marching forward, determined to influence change. I welcome you to the IFP family. Together, we will make the difference.