PRINCE MANGOSUTHU BUTHELEZI MP
PRESIDENT OF THE INKATHA FREEDOM PARTY
Sithembile Stadium, Glencoe
The Director of Programmes, Amakhosi AseNdlunkulu, His Worship the Mayor of Umzinyathi District Municipality, Councillor Petros Mthandeni Ngubane; His Worship the Mayor of Endumeni Local Municipality; Councillor Siboniso Richard Mbatha; Councillors of both municipalities; Leaders of the IFP Women’s Brigade and the IFP Youth Brigade; and members of this community
It is so good to be with you today as we celebrate the successful partnership between Umzinyathi and the IFP. I want to thank you for welcoming me, so that we can talk to each other about this District, this local municipality and this community. This is your community. It is where you live, where you socialise and where you make plans for the future. This is your home.
The IFP is here to help you make this home better, safer and happier. We want to see Glencoe prosper, and we are doing that through our work in Endumeni Municipality and Umzinyathi Municipality. We know that what happens at District level affects you, here. It matters that we get good leadership at every level, so that the benefits will accrue to you, the people we serve.
I therefore want to thank you for supporting the IFP and for giving us your mandate in the Local Government Elections. In August last year, you asked the IFP to lead. Through the ballot box, you called on the party you trust to administer local governance. And the IFP responded. From day one we focussed all our energy on reshaping Endumeni’s municipality to make it more efficient, and more responsive to your needs.
We know that the basic responsibilities of municipal governance must be fulfilled. Basic services like sanitation, water and electrification are essential, and the IFP works to meet these needs, because these are the things that make life easier. We want to lift communities out of hardship, and meet fundamental needs, so that people will have the freedom to focus on the things that matter, like relationships, studies, skills development, raising families and building the future.
To the IFP, this is the important work. We focus on getting the basics right, so that you can create a better tomorrow. We want to see young women become entrepreneurs. We want to see young men start small businesses. We want to see every baby fed and clothed and cared for, and every child receive the benefit of early childhood development programmes. We want to see proper infrastructure for clinics, shops and schools. We want to make it easier for you to dream, and then empower you to pursue those dreams.
All of this starts with good local government. It matters who administers municipal governance, because the “who” determines the “how”. When the IFP administers governance, we bring our values, principles and vision to the table. We choose councillors who epitomise the IFP’s values, and we hold them to a high standard; because we know that our councillors are your first point of contact with government, and we know that you measure the IFP according to how well our councillors serve you.
I want to tell you that I am most impressed with the calibre of leadership we have secured in Umzinyathi and Endumeni. Our Mayor in Endumeni is one of the youngest mayors in South Africa, and he knows his stuff. We chose him because he understands municipal administration. He has the knowledge and skills to lead this municipality. So why not put a young leader at the helm? The IFP has always promoted and empowered our youth, based on their abilities. We believe in the capacity of young people to lead.
Our Mayor in Umzinyathi has taken the helm with an equally dramatic entrance. He was only inaugurated last month, but already he has identified millions of Rands of irregular expenditure at the District Municipality. He has wasted no time in putting things right. This is the hallmark of an IFP leadership.
Our District Mayor has called for a forensic investigation into the municipality’s finances and skills, so that we can see what we are dealing with and how we can put things right. Umzinyathi has been under a different leadership for five years, but the people of this District have asked the IFP to take over. I am not surprised; but I am pleased.
The fact is that millions of Rands have been squandered in Umzinyathi because of dodgy contracts and fraudulent procurement practices. Some three million Rand was spent on water tanks, but there are still communities who have no access to water. Twenty-two million was spent on operations and maintenance, but it’s not clear where all that money went.
So over the next three months, everything will be investigated. After that we will have a mayoral imbizo to report back to the people and to listen to what you have to say.
Let me tell you, our opponents are not happy. They don’t want their corruption to be exposed. In fact, they’ve even manufactured accusations against our Mayor in Endumeni in an attempt to shift the focus away from their own faults.
But these accusations have been fully investigated by the Municipal Public Accounts Committee, on which all parties serve, and the Mayor has been completely exonerated. There is no evidence of any wrongdoing. Thus the lies of our opponents have been exposed. Rather than face the music, ANC Councillors have tried to keep the Committee’s report from being tabled, by repeatedly walking out of Council meetings.
The ANC is licking its wounds in this District, because they tried everything to keep the IFP out of Umzinyathi, and they failed.
The IFP won in Endumeni in the Local Government Elections. We also won in Msinga. We were poised to take over Nquthu as well. But our opponents knew that if Nquthu went to the IFP, they would lose the whole district of Umzinyathi. That was a bitter pill, and they weren’t willing to swallow.
So they did everything possible to disrupt council meetings in Nquthu, preventing the inauguration of an executive leadership. They were quite willing to put service delivery on hold, for months on end, so long as they could keep the IFP out.
The problem was that, for as long as Nquthu remained unconstituted, Umzinyathi District Municipality stayed on hold. So the entire district was placed at the mercy of politics, as the ANC fought tooth and nail to keep the IFP out. What they couldn’t accept, was that they were fighting the electorate. The electorate wanted the IFP in. You, the people, had chosen an IFP leadership.
The beauty of democracy is that the people win.
Eventually the MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs had to place Nquthu under administration, and fresh elections had to be called in every ward. Those elections were held, and the IFP won an overwhelming victory. A very clear message was sent through the ballot box that the will of the people must be respected.
Nquthu embraced an IFP leadership, just as you had done here in Endumeni, and just as the people did in Msinga. Thus, Umzinyathi finally received the leadership it needs; the leadership of the IFP. That is reason to celebrate.
But just as we are celebrating, our opponents are desperately trying to claw their way back. It pains me to say that they convinced one of our councillors to join their cause. For whatever reason, our councillor in this ward began to collude with the ANC to remove the Mayor of Endumeni.
I have led the IFP for 42 years. Throughout that journey there have always been traitors who were easily bribed by our opponents. That is the sad reality of politics and human nature. I have been let down by many people, but I have never let my disappointment cloud my judgement. I know that when you take a blow, you need to regroup, do the necessary, and keep going. That, perhaps, is why former President Mandela called me “a formidable survivor”!
The IFP was faced with a difficult decision over our Glencoe Councillor. We could not allow democracy to be subverted. We respect the will of the electorate. If the ANC’s plan had succeeded, the indiscipline showed by our Councillor may have led to disaster in this Municipality. We saw what they did in Nquthu; how they held service delivery to ransom while they politicked and manoeuvred. We could not allow that in Endumeni.
Thus we expelled Councillor Zitha. The defiance of this man is unprecedented in this Party. He refused to attend meetings we convened as the NEC, attended by all Councillors.
When we promised you leaders you can trust, we intended to keep that promise. We knew that it might mean making difficult decisions in the years ahead. But sometimes doing what is right and necessary is uncomfortable, and not everyone appreciates it. It has been hard for some members of this community to understand our decision, but I hope that now you will see why we did it.
I am not surprised that it’s the ANC that is most angered by our decision. Since we terminated Councillor Zitha’s services, ANC Councillors have boycotted Council meetings. Things have become quite heated in Council meetings and tempers have flared, because the IFP has managed again to foil the plans of our opponents.
Their plans are quite clear. They want to disrupt the activities of this municipality, in order to unseat the current leadership. In fact, their Councillor Sduduzo Mdluli spoke openly at a Council sitting last year about the ANC’s programme to make Endumeni Municipality ungovernable. He even claimed that they have the MEC’s support for their plan.
There are allegations that Councillor Mdluli is involved in corrupt housing activities. There are also allegations against the former Municipal Manager. We don’t take allegations and accusations lightly. Just as we sought an investigation when the claims were against our Mayor, we believe that all allegations should be investigated. Thus a forensic audit has been instituted in Endumeni as well. Not surprisingly, there has been fierce opposition from the ANC.
Their Councillors have repeatedly disrupted meetings, walked out of meetings and simply failed to attend. In terms of Council rules, the Speaker has written to the relevant Councillors and imposed the necessary fines. Now the ANC has a motion of no confidence against the Speaker!
Council has convened meetings again and again that could not proceed because of the behaviour of ANC Councillors. Yet one of their councillors has had the nerve to complain that Council isn’t sitting. This same Councillor owes the municipality R33 000 for water.
We are not just hurling Party partisan accusations at the ANC. At the recent policy conference of the ANC, the Secretary-General, Mr Mantashe presented a diagnostic report on the ANC. He stated that the ANC is riddled with undemocratic practices such as vote buying and corruption. During the Nquthu saga, and also during the August the 3rd local government elections, many of our members were offered large sums of money by even prominent leaders of the ANC. So the corrupt practices of fraudulent votes has also been admitted in the diagnostic report of the Secretary-General of the ANC at its recent policy conference. I am worried about this, for it seems that in our own Party there are elements who are trying to introduce these rotten practices. I have appealed even before the local government elections that IFP members must establish branches. Wherever genuine branches were set up, we did very well. But even now the Party is failing to set up real branches as distinct from bogus branches. We need these branches urgently so that we can hold the Provincial Conference. And so that we can convene elective conferences of the Women’s Brigade and the Youth Brigade.
There is another very concerning side to this whole saga. The IFP is in a cooperation agreement with the DA in KwaZulu Natal and Gauteng. But here in Endumeni, the DA is quietly sitting by, withholding support by absenting itself from Council meetings. In Abaqulusi, the DA has instructed its councillors to abstain from a vote against our Mayor. By sitting on the fence like this, the DA is silently handing power to the ANC.
Why are they doing that? I can only put it down to the DA’s provincial leader, Councillor Zwakele Mncwango, who has publically announced his mission to destroy the IFP before 2019. His actions are threatening the cooperation agreement we have with the DA throughout South Africa. He may well fracture the strong opposition we have created, not only here, but also in Gauteng.
Our opponents will do anything to push us out. But I think there is one thing they haven’t bargained on, and that is the power of the people. The IFP has a partnership with the people of Endumeni. We have worked together for decades, building this community hand in hand. You have witnessed our leadership, you have seen our character, and you have watched our promises fulfilled. The IFP has earned your trust.
That is a powerful partnership. It’s not something that can be destroyed by lies and politicking. But that doesn’t mean our opponents won’t try. We knew that when we expelled Councillor Zitha, this ward would have to have a by-election. We knew that we would have to contest ward 3 all over again, and that our opponents would make every effort to get their own candidate elected.
But we also knew that democracy must come first, that the will of the electorate must be respected, and that good people, like you, would rally behind a leadership you can trust. We are therefore asking you to make your voice heard when Glencoe goes to a by-election, just like Nquthu did. On 27 September, when the by-election is held, make sure that you send a clear message: Glencoe will not be corrupted!
We need your vote in this by-election. We need you to strengthen the partnership between Glencoe and the IFP. Let us place a new IFP Councillor in leadership, so that the good work we started can continue. Let’s keep the IFP values alive in this ward, so that governance can work well here, in Endumeni, and in Umzinyathi as a whole.
The stronger the IFP at community level, the stronger governance will be across the board. This is about you. It’s about your future and your life. I am not willing to let politics disrupt service delivery. Your needs must come first. I therefore ask you to vote when the by-election comes. Make your mark for the IFP, and together we will keep Endumeni on a path of growth.
Today we are celebrating your support. I look forward to another celebration, as the IFP triumphs again!