Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP
President Of The Inkatha Freedom Party
Khethukuthula Secondary School Sports Ground, Thelezi
Friends, as I speak to you today, South Africa is on a countdown to the next Local Government Elections. In those elections, you – the people – will choose your councillors for your municipality. Just two days ago, the Electoral Commission officially launched the 2016 election campaign. The moment is coming for us to change the way governance is done in the municipalities of South Africa.
This is an exciting time and we are likely to see even more political shenanigans than we usually do, as parties jostle to position themselves in the hearts and minds of voters. In the midst of this excitement, I want to thank you for inviting me to spend some time with you in Abaqulusi so that we might speak about the future and how we can shape it.
The IFP is an anchor in this storm, for we are consistent no matter what the time of year and no matter what kind of theatrics other parties put you through. For forty one years we have been a voice of reason in South Africa, guiding the debate towards long-term solutions, stability, unity and peace. The IFP is unique in the present political landscape, for we have earned your trust over many years and we have never changed our spots. We have stayed relevant to the needs of the present without ever abandoning our principles or compromising our belief in moral leadership.
I therefore know that when I come to Abaqulusi, I come to people who know the IFP. You are people with whom the IFP has built a tried and trusted partnership. Together, we have worked for the good of this community, focussing on what is best for Abaqulusi, rather than what is best for a few politicians. Through the IFP’s unique message of self-help and self-reliance, people here have been empowered to change their own circumstances. That is the work we do day in and day out, during elections, between elections, 24/7.
Because of this, I am looking forward to the 2016 Local Government Elections. I am looking forward to the opportunity for us to get Abaqulusi back where it belongs: in the IFP family. I am sure I need not tell you what happened in 2011. We all know how the vote was split by the sudden appearance of a new party that promised the sun, moon and stars to those who had always supported the IFP. We also all know what happened immediately thereafter; that they hitched their wagon to the ANC and became inconsequential as a voice of opposition.
It is not surprising that over the past five years since the last Local Government Election, there has been a steady stream of return to the IFP. Almost every weekend I attend rallies welcoming people back to the IFP and welcoming new members. We are growing well and predictions have already been published by independent surveys that the IFP will double its support in 2016. If you are among those who left the IFP in 2011, and are now in a political wilderness wondering why your leaders ignore you, I urge you to come home. You will be in good company, for thousands of patriots and political activists are moving in to strengthen the party they trust – the IFP.
But before we even get to the Local Government Elections, ward 15 in Abaqulusi has a unique opportunity to secure good governance. On Wednesday next week, voting stations will open in this ward and a by-election will be held. This is a crucial moment. Don’t let it slip by without getting to a voting station and casting your vote. This ward has been served by an IFP councillor, and we want to keep it IFP to ensure that the work we started won’t be reversed.
We are deeply saddened whenever a councillor passes away, for we are not only losing a member of our family, but also someone who is well-known and well-respected in their community. Your councillor is your first point of contact with government. They are there to serve your needs, answer your questions, resolve the difficulties in your community and keep you informed of decisions in the municipality. When a councillor dies unexpectedly, this valuable work is often put on hold.
In the IFP, we strive to ensure that our colleagues support one another and work as a team. When we lose a councillor, we have another dedicated team member ready to take up their work and keep serving their people. The IFP is proud to have Mr Nestar Bukwani Manana standing as our candidate in this ward. He has served the IFP for years and has stood as our candidate in 2011 and 2006. We believe he will continue the vision of the IFP in ward 15.
I therefore encourage you to get to a voting station on Wednesday and support Mr Manana with your vote. You are not voting for an individual, but for the full package of the IFP. The IFP will hold our councillor accountable. The IFP will serve your needs. The IFP will continue its good partnership with you in this ward.
This by-election is very important for Abaqulusi. We cannot afford to sit back and wait for the Local Government Elections, thinking they are more important. We need to keep this seat in the IFP, because then our chances of taking the whole municipality in 2016 will be vastly improved. Our opponents know this. They are thinking up all sorts of ideas to get you to change your vote so that they might steal ward 15 from where it belongs.
Abaqulusi is familiar with the tricks of the ANC, and you have seen them copied by the NFP. Already a by-election has had to be postponed in Abaqulusi because of voter fraud. It has become standard practice for our opponents to bus people in to wards in which they don’t live, in order to bolster their votes. People from outside are promised jobs if they come in and vote a certain way in a by-election. The jobs don’t materialise, because it’s all a trick. Worse than that, it’s a criminal act. Voter fraud is against the law and against the concept of democracy.
When you see people who don’t live in your ward voting in your by-election, tell an IFP party agent. Speak to an electoral officer and tell the police. It is unacceptable that your voice should be overruled. No one should be allowed to manipulate the outcome of this by-election. This is about your community, your family and your choice.
I want to warn you about another tactic that is often used to manipulate the elections, and that is the buying of votes. The IFP has warned again and again that those who administer state resources should never use those resources to campaign for political support. We see this when government officials suddenly appear before a by-election and hand out food parcels, farming equipment, or title deeds to RDP houses. They use money from the state coffers, which is your money, to buy gifts for you, and in return they ask for your vote.
I have always said that people should take these gifts, because they are bought with your money. But don’t be tricked into thinking that you need to do anything in return. It’s like a postman delivering your post. It’s his duty. The post belongs to you. When you take it from him, there is no obligation to throw him a party, invite him to live in your house, or make him your new mayor.
When government officials come bearing gifts they are simply doing their job. What makes it seem special is that they don’t come very often. But they should. They should be accessible to you, and working for you. When the IFP raises this concern about the abuse of state resources, the ANC is quick to deny it. But just this week National Treasury issued an official circular warning that public funds must not be used to campaign for votes. They know it happens all the time.
It is important that voters understand these things. You deserve to know your rights and you deserve to be protected from unscrupulous manipulation. Democracy rests on the principle that people be free to choose their leadership, without being bullied, tricked, intimidated or bribed. I want democracy to work in South Africa. I want you to choose the leaders of our nation.
I trust the instinct of South Africans to choose what is right for the wellbeing of South Africa. It is time for us as the electorate to kick out corruption and weak leadership. It is time to bring in a leadership we can trust and a party that deserves our support. I know, as I speak here today, that I am speaking to people who want the best for your children and yourselves. You are ready to become active shapers of the future.
I therefore invite you to vote for the IFP on Wednesday and keep ward 15 in the IFP family. But more than that, I invite you to become active in the IFP, to join a branch and mobilise to start new branches. I invite you to consider our track record of good governance, our integrity and our genuine love for the people we serve.
You can change the course of politics in South Africa. It starts with a by-election, but it ends with a stable, prosperous and unified nation.
I thank you.