PRINCE MANGOSUTHU BUTHELEZI MP
PRESIDENT OF THE INKATHA FREEDOM PARTY
Ward 13, Mkhonjane
Nquthu is alive with energy. There is a sense that anything can happen. Change is possible. Things can be put right. The IFP is here to bring you good news. We are here to stand up for the rights of Nquthu; rights that have been trampled for far too long by irresponsible politicians.
The IFP is listening to the voice of Nquthu. We listened on August 3rd when you voted for an IFP leadership in the Local Government Elections. We listened when the political mischief of our opponents disrupted service delivery and you cried out for justice. And we’re listening now as you speak with one voice, determined to set things right.
Finally, after six months of struggling, the power is being put back into your hands. That is the beauty of democracy. Political mischief can only go so far before the democratic system steps in and gives the power back to the people. Three days from now, as Wednesday dawns, voting stations will open across Nquthu and 80 000 voters will be asked to decide the future.
I am grateful that the people in this meeting will be among those voters, for you will have heard the truth here today and you will be equipped to make the right decision at the ballot box. The right decision, the only decision that can be made for Nquthu, is to vote for the IFP. This time, we need to be louder. We need to have more people coming out and voting IFP than ever before, so that this time the ANC will be too ashamed to ignore your voices.
I know that I am not the only one speaking to Nquthu today. The President of the ANC is not far from here, cajoling voters with a song and a dance. It’s quite amazing that the President agreed to come. Have you ever seen the President, the Deputy President, the National Chairperson, the Secretary General and the Treasurer General of the ANC all turn up for a local by-election?
Let me tell you why they came. It isn’t about Nquthu. It’s about swinging the balance of power in Umzinyathi District Municipality. Because if the ANC can get Nquthu in their pocket, they will take over the whole district. They can’t bear the thought of losing to the IFP in Nquthu. Not again. Because an IFP victory in Nquthu, will bring an IFP victory in Umzinyathi. That would really make the ANC look bad.
So these visits by ANC big-wigs are publicity campaigns. The problem is that the ANC focuses too much on looking good, and not enough on being good.
Let me remind us what happened in Nquthu to spark the need for by-elections.
Immediately after the Local Government Elections, it became clear that the IFP would govern Nquthu. It was simply a matter of electing the Mayor, the Speaker and other officer bearers to administer governance. But at one meeting after the next, the election of office bearers was disrupted and everything in Nquthu ground to a halt. We understood the politics behind it. If the ANC could keep a spanner in the works for long enough, by derailing the election of office bearers, the MEC could step in.
In terms of the Constitution, the MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs can dissolve a local council and place a municipality under administration. In other words, the MEC can effectively put under ANC rule any municipality where the people voted for a different party. All it takes is the suspension of good governance for long enough through political mischief.
And that is exactly what happened in Nquthu. Service delivery was put on hold for the sake of a political power play. For half a year, governance in Nquthu was suspended, purely through the selfishness of a power-hungry party.
Once Nquthu was under administration, COGTA started assisting ANC councillor candidates to campaign. One ANC candidate was given 3 Jojo tanks of water so that he could take them to the community as a gift from the ANC.
They do this when our people are desperate. The effects of the terrible drought we have suffered are still being felt, and water is in high demand. Government has a responsibility to assist; not to use water as a marketing tool to buy your vote. That is an abuse of state resources. When we talk about corruption, that’s where it starts, with abuse of power and abuse of resources.
Having COGTA take over municipal administration is, in itself, not a solution. Umzinyathi District Municipality is under administration and it has failed to deliver water to Msinga, where families are in crisis. The non-delivery of water has led to violent protests in Msinga, and loss of life. It feels as though Msinga is being punished for wanting an IFP leadership, and that punishment is coming from a government department acting on behalf of the ANC.
Again, that is abuse of power. And those who pay the price are the people. Where is the ANC’s integrity? They are so hell-bent on power that they are willing to cause hardship and suffering for the sake of scoring a political point.
We need to get Nquthu under the wings of the IFP, so that the IFP can lead Umzinyathi. This is the only way to ensure that the local and district municipality will work in partnership to serve the needs of the people.
I am astounded when I hear politicians tell you that they can deliver in Nquthu if you give them your vote. They were willing to halt service delivery for six months, just because things didn’t go their way. How interested are they really in your wellbeing?
I was also surprised when I heard the provincial leader of the DA telling you that the DA can take over Nquthu, like they did in Johannesburg. He didn’t mention, though, that the IFP assisted them to take over Johannesburg.
We entered a cooperation agreement with the DA after Local Government Elections, agreeing to support their leadership in Johannesburg while they support the IFP’s leadership in KwaZulu Natal. Our agreement is based on the belief that the DA is the strongest check on the abusive governance of the ANC in Johannesburg, and that the IFP is the strongest check in KwaZulu Natal.
That belief is confirmed by the results of the Local Government Elections, which saw the IFP regain our position as the biggest opposition in KwaZulu Natal. We overtook the DA in this province, and the DA acknowledged the IFP’s strength by agreeing to vote with our councillors in KwaZulu Natal. So when the DA says they can do here what they did in Johannesburg, they are conveniently forgetting that what they did in Johannesburg was done with the IFP’s help.
Do you want the strongest party? Or the people who get help from the strongest party? We are happy to work with any DA Councillors in Nquthu Municipality. But the IFP needs to lead if Nquthu is to get the governance it deserves.
From a leadership position, we can work hand in hand with anyone willing to serve the needs of the people. Because from leadership we can keep that working partnership on track, ensuring that the right policies are implemented.
There are policies on which we disagree fundamentally with our opponents, such as the issue of traditional leadership. I have championed the role, powers and functions of this institution for decades, continually putting pressure on government to recognise and protect traditional leadership through legislation. But the response from an ANC government has been negative.
To the ANC, traditional leaders are simply political tools to keep power in the ANC. The President said as much during the centenary celebrations of the ANC in 2012. This is the same President who committed to change the Constitution when the role, powers and functions of traditional leaders were about to be obliterated by the Municipal Structures Act.
He has never fulfilled that commitment, and now our traditional leaders are disempowered from driving development. Only a few are able to sit on the municipal council, and none of them are allowed to vote. The municipality has no obligation to listen to traditional leaders. All of this came about because of the ANC; because they don’t respect traditional leaders beyond their ability to bring in the votes.
Unfortunately, the DA has also given short shrift to traditional leadership, believing that local governance should be run exclusively through a western system. Indigenous and customary law is considered inferior to the Roman Dutch law that dominates South Africa’s judiciary.
I want to see traditional social structures and traditional leaders empowered to deliver the kind of good governance they have delivered for generations. That won’t happen under the DA, and it hasn’t happened under the ANC. On this, the IFP differs with our opponents. We are the only one carrying the voice of the people.
There are other issues where we disagree, such as economic policy. We also disagree with the kind of tolerance the ANC has shown towards corruption. It is corruption and poor economic policy that has brought our country to the point of junk status. Why must the entire South Africa hang its head in the international arena, because of one man?
I am not alone when I lay the blame at the doorstep of the President. It is not just the IFP and not just the opposition that has lost confidence in the President. More than a hundred veterans of the ANC, former Minsters and former members of the NEC, have pleaded with the President to do what is honourable and step down. Millions of South Africans have joined the campaign to remove the President.
I can tell you that some senior leaders in the ANC have actually come to me and asked me to speak to the President in my capacity as an elder. But as I have said in Parliament, the President won’t listen to me. If he won’t listen to the stalwarts of his own party or the cry of the people of South Africa, he surely won’t heed the wisdom of Buthelezi.
Unfortunately, this problem was created by the ANC, and it can only be solved by the ANC.
There will be another Vote of No Confidence in the National Assembly. But unless ANC MPs, who hold the majority, vote with their conscience, it will be yet another exercise in futility. Right now the Constitutional Court is deciding whether the Vote of No Confidence can be done through a secret ballot. In that way, all MPs will be able to vote without fear of intimidation or reprisal. We believe this will allow good faith servants of the people to vote according to their conscience.
So we await the decision of the Constitutional Court. But I must say that I would be surprised if the Court can order the National Assembly to have a secret ballot. When I studied constitutional law at university, we were taught the rule of separation of powers. I was not surprised when the Chief Justice raised the same concern. But let us wait and see.
There is in fact a lot we are being made to wait for. We are still waiting for the President to give reasons for his midnight Cabinet reshuffle that saw our Finance Minister kicked out, and twenty Cabinet positions shifted around. The court found that the President must explain his actions. Was this really in the best interests of the country? Or was the President under pressure to protect his own interests?
Increasingly South Africa is learning that the ruling party doesn’t play by the rules. Unfortunately, this is also the case when it comes to elections. In countless elections and by-elections dirty tricks have been employed to manipulate the outcome. Apart from violence, intimidation and bribery, electoral fraud has become common, where people are induced to vote where they don’t reside, to boost the numbers for a particular party.
The IEC has assured us that it will be using an electronic system on Wednesday throughout Nquthu, to ensure that voters who vote here are not registered elsewhere. So if anyone has been bribed to vote illegally in these by-elections, be warned. You will be found out, and you will be the one who pays the price, not the people who bribed you. Electoral fraud is a criminal offence. Don’t be caught selling your vote.
In a democracy, your vote is your most valuable asset. Why sell it for the promise of a job that will never materialise, or for a food parcel that will be gone tomorrow? Your vote can secure plenty of tomorrows where good governance changes your circumstances entirely.
I get so frustrated when government brings food parcels to a community just before a by-election, pretending that they are some sort of gift from the benevolence of the ANC. I tell people again and again, don’t be fooled. Take the food parcels. They were bought with your money. Government used money that was set aside for other things, like building houses and maintaining schools, and they used that money to buy food parcels instead. Because they think that food parcels will buy them votes.
So take the food parcels. But reject the bribe. Vote with your conscience. Vote for the party with integrity. Vote IFP. They have even arrested our Councillors on trumped up charges. That is how desperate they are. They have used every trick in the book.
I have been asked many times to predict the outcome of this by-election. I always respond that I am not a prophet. But if this election is free and fair, without bribery, manipulation and tricks, then the IFP will do very well.
We did well on the 3rd of August, because voters could see the truth in the IFP’s campaign. We are the party you can trust. With all that has happened in the last six months, it is abundantly clear that our opponents are not to be trusted to take care of your needs. Thus, when elections are held this Wednesday, it is safe to say that voters will flock to the IFP.
I want to thank you for registering to vote. You have done the right thing. Now you are ready to shape Nquthu’s future. You are the wall that stands between Nquthu and corrupt leaders, between Nquthu and abuse of power. You are the wall that protects your home from those who want your vote, without your voice. They don’t want to hear from you or serve your needs. They just want you to be a number that boosts the ballots and gives them power.
I urge you to cast your vote for people who genuinely care. We have endured a long and difficult battle in Nquthu to get service delivery back on track. That battle can be won on Wednesday. Let victory be in the vote. Let us declare that, here, the people come first, and the people have chosen the IFP.
I thank you.