PRINCE MANGOSUTHU BUTHELEZI MP
PRESIDENT OF THE INKATHA FREEDOM PARTY
We have endured a long and hard fight in Nquthu. As I meet with you today, I am aware of the great unhappiness that exists in this community with the way things are being done in local government. You are angry and frustrated, and you have every reason to be. You have not been treated fairly. Your voice has been ignored and your needs have played second fiddle to the politics of power. I am here to tell you that the battle isn’t over. There is still a chance to set things right in Nquthu.
From the moment you cast your ballots in the Local Government Elections on 3 August 2016, the IFP has been fighting on your behalf. We have been fighting to keep service delivery at the top of the agenda, and to secure the best possible municipal leadership. Through your votes, you gave your mandate to the IFP, asking us to restore a leadership of integrity to Nquthu Municipality. I want to thank you for your votes. You showed confidence in a partnership with the IFP, and we intend to do everything in our power to serve you.
I feel it is important that I tell you exactly what happened in this municipality after the August elections, so that no one can pull the wool over your eyes and mislead you. I believe in speaking the truth, even when it is unpalatable, because – armed with the truth – we are able to make good decisions.
When the votes were counted in August last year, the IFP had won 15 seats. Our opponent, the ANC, had won 14 while the NFP, their coalition partner, had won 2. Nquthu was the only place in the whole of the country that the NFP got votes, for it was disqualified from the elections in every other municipality for failure to meet the electoral requirements. But if the NFP gave their votes to the ANC, as they have done before, the ANC would have had one more seat than us in Nquthu.
Fortunately, two more seats were won; one by the DA and one by the EFF. The EFF then announced that it would support the IFP when it came to electing municipal councils in KwaZulu Natal. We also came to an agreement with the DA to cooperate in municipal councils to ensure that we can provide the best formula for service delivery. Thus, the die were cast for an IFP victory in Nquthu Municipal Council.
The ANC panicked.
The IFP had done so well in the Local Government Elections that, if we won Nquthu, we would automatically win Umzinyathi District. An IFP leadership would govern at both local and district level, giving you, the people, a leadership of integrity. In terms of democracy, things were moving forward as they should. Your votes had been cast. Your voice had been heard. A new municipal council was about to be established.
But the ANC would not allow this to happen. Every council meeting was disrupted to prevent the municipality from electing office bearers, including a mayor, deputy mayor and speaker. Seven times we met, and seven times the meeting was aborted because of gross disruptions. It was made impossible for the municipality to move forward.
I was quite disgusted by these political shenanigans, because a price was being paid by the people. For as long as council meetings were disrupted for the sake of keeping the IFP out, service delivery was suffering. Evidently, the ANC would rather halt service delivery than see the IFP beat them fair and square.
Throughout all this, our councillors were bribed to defect and their lives were threatened. We had to take the unusual measure of sending our councillors into hiding for an extended period, just to protect their lives. It was shocking to see the extent of power politics, where lives were disregarded and people were considered commodities to be bought and sold.
I thank God that no one lost their life, and no one was manipulated into taking a bribe. It speaks volumes about the integrity of IFP councillors that they remained steadfast under so much pressure. They are here to serve you, come hell or high water. That is the measure of an IFP leader.
Because of all the disruptions in municipal council, the MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs was able to place Nquthu under administration, enabling the ruling party to take over this municipality in a different way. Finally, in terms of Section 139 (1)(c) of the Constitution, the local council was dissolved.
This brings us back to elections, as the future of Nquthu must now be decided through by-elections in all 17 wards.
The power to decide who should govern will be placed back in the hands of the electorate on Wednesday 24 May. More than 76 000 voters will be asked to settle this fight once and for all. That is good news! That is democracy! Let victory be in the vote. To those who thought they’d beat the IFP; it isn’t over yet. It isn’t over till the voice of the people is heard.
There is a lot at stake in these by-elections. We need to use this moment to declare that the will of the people always prevails, that the outcome cannot be manipulated, that votes cannot be bought, and our people cannot be bribed. We need to make this an overwhelming victory for the IFP, so that service delivery can finally be placed back on track and good governance can top the agenda. Let us ensure that the IFP leads with a solid majority. Let’s silence those who put power before the people. Let us declare in Nquthu that the people come first, and the people have chosen the IFP.
A great injustice was committed against Nquthu. Your right to good governance was trampled underfoot in the ANC’s panic over losing. But this time they won’t be able to stop a leadership of integrity from taking the helm, because we will be backed by something more powerful than the ANC. We will be backed by the power of the vote.
I urge you to speak through the ballot box. I urge you to vote in the coming by-election. On August 3rd, 58% of registered voters came out and voted. This time around, there needs to be more. We need to get every registered voter to a voting station on May 24th to cast their vote for the IFP. It’s the only way to set things right in Nquthu. We have one chance. We must use it.
Remember, if the IFP wins Nquthu, we win the District. Our victory on May 24th will be a huge victory for this community and all its neighbours. The celebration will extend far and wide, and Umzinyathi will have reason to thank the voters of Nquthu.
Because there is so much at stake, we must be vigilant. Let us not kid ourselves that our opponents will suddenly leave things to chance, when they have tried so hard to manipulate the governance of Nquthu in their favour. I am not speaking hypothetically when I say that by-elections can be rigged. It has happened before. The IEC has even had to halt by-elections when it was discovered that our opponents were committing electoral fraud.
One of the common tricks is to bus people in to vote where they don’t reside. Let me be clear. Registering to vote where you don’t live is a criminal offence. No one has the right to choose whether they want to be bribed or not. If you accept a bribe to vote where you don’t reside, you are committing a crime. You are becoming complicit in the destruction of democracy, and you’re hurting the community.
One has been hearing all sorts of rumours about allegations that our opponents were approaching some of our Principals in the schools, wanting to have the young peoples’ Identity Documents. I know that some of the Principals refused to be drawn to doing what they were being told they must do. I of course have no idea what they intended to do with the students’ Identity Documents. But it is clear that this was one of the right things to do. It was very clear that these Identity Documents were going to be used in one of the dirty tricks. How? Of course we have no idea. Money was used by our opponents on a very large scale to bribe people thus the necessity for us to remove our Councillors from this arena of great temptation.
We know that even one of the most trusted Disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ sold God’s only son with thirty pieces of silver. It was not because we do not trust our Councillors. But knowing that our Councillors are just human beings susceptible to temptation we just wanted them removed from this kind of pressure.
I want us all to be vigilant against electoral fraud, against intimidation, bribery, corruption and manipulation. We need to protect our democratic right to vote for the party of our choice, and to see our chosen leaders win.
I therefore invite you to partner with the IFP’s agents at all voting stations. Help them to identify fraud. If you see someone voting who doesn’t live in your ward, report it. You can even tell the police, because they are there to ensure that no crime is committed to compromise free and fair elections.
In fact at Jozini our members just remained at each voting station after they voted in order to identify people who were bussed by the ANC from other wards in order to beef up their political electoral support. So our members in Jozini just stayed put to watch these criminals from the camp of our opponents.
We always boast about our Constitution and the democracy it has served for us. But I say without any fear of contradiction that since 1994 elections in South Africa have never ever been free and fair. Never! I can quote cases of fraudulent activities that have been employed at every one of our elections. It has never been a fair fight even though at the end of each election it is declared to be free and fair. Even cases we presented to the IEC were never attended to.
Friends, we have a great opportunity before us. We can secure a leadership of integrity for Nquthu Municipality. We can bring an IFP victory and ensure that the will of the people prevails. It’s time for politics to take a back seat to good governance. Nquthu deserves so much more. On behalf of the IFP councillors who serve you in this municipality, I commit to keep putting your needs first. That’s the way things are done in the IFP. That’s the way it should be.
I am grateful to one of the IFP’s leaders, the Honourable Mr Hassan Motala, for providing the resources for today’s meeting. He approached me a few weeks back to say that he is celebrating his birthday and he wants to share this celebration with IFP people, for you are the reason we do what we do. I advised him to come and celebrate with Nquthu, for the community here has endured too much hardship because of politicians. It’s time that real leaders come and thank you, and give you the facts.
Thus we celebrate today with the Honourable Mr Motala. As he so often does, he has provided food for the people from his own pocket. He is a great example of generosity. I therefore thank him and wish him a very happy birthday.
Friends, may this celebration be a precursor to the much bigger celebration we will have when Nquthu finally receives the leadership it deserves. Through the strength of your votes, may Nquthu see an IFP victory.
I thank you.