Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP
President Of The Inkatha Freedom Party
What a pleasure it is for me to be in Mtonjaneni today, to celebrate with you. We have set this time aside to thank the Lord for the growth of the IFP in Mtonjaneni and across KwaZulu Natal. He has strengthened us and enabled us to restore good governance in many municipalities. We have every good reason to celebrate, for the partnership between the IFP and Mtonjaneni is growing from strength to strength.
I want to thank you for investing in this partnership. Through the Local Government Elections in August last year, the electorate called on the IFP to return. With your votes, you asked us to lead this municipality and to bring the IFP’s values into local governance. You voted for a clean administration. You voted for reliable councillors. You voted for development through self-help and self-reliance, and for a leadership that believes in empowering the people. You voted IFP.
Your votes have created a new IFP success story. Thank you for being part of this growing team.
The results of the 2016 Local Government Elections were a milestone achievement for the IFP. Across South Africa we more than doubled our support. In KwaZulu Natal, we were restored as the biggest opposition party, overtaking the DA in local governance. Zululand District Municipality was given back to the IFP. In Ulundi and Nongoma, every single ward that the IFP contested became an IFP victory. Nkandla remained firmly in our fold.
Mtonjaneni, Abaqulusi, Msinga and Endumeni are all under IFP leadership. Nqutu too was poised to become an IFP-led municipality, which would give us Umzinyathi District as well. But the MEC for Local Governance has managed to manoeuvre these two municipalities into administration. We still have hope that the will of the people will prevail when we return to the ballot box. In Umkhanyakude District, the IFP won victories in Jozini, Mtubatuba and Big 5/Hlabisa, placing us in leadership at both local and district levels.
All of these victories are based on your votes. A powerful message has gone out to all political parties that voters will no longer reward weak leadership and poor service. Your respect must now be earned and your votes are not for sale. This speaks of a maturing democracy. I am proud of South Africa’s voters for demanding a leadership we can trust, and for rejecting those who have broken their promises and failed to serve.
Even before the 2016 Local Government Elections, the IFP saw a shift in voting away from the ANC/NFP coalition. In every by-election over the past five years, the IFP has gained support. It is evident that once people had a taste for the coalition, they came streaming back to the IFP. Wherever an ANC/NFP coalition took over municipal governance, service delivery stalled and governance fell apart. Reports from the Auditor General pointed to mismanagement, wasteful expenditure, poor financial controls, and weak leadership. Now there is a report by chartered accountants on the dire state of affairs in Nongoma under an ANC/NFP coalition. Things fell apart to a terrible extent, and the people paid the price.
So whenever a by-election was held in any of these municipalities, votes were restored to the IFP, to the extent that we took back several municipalities. But it was the Local Government Elections that told the full story. It was there that the electorate spoke with one loud voice, calling the IFP back to leadership.
We now have the mandate to fix the problems created by someone else. We are determined to set municipalities back on course towards efficient service delivery and good governance. We know that this will demand a strong partnership with the people we serve, but we are confident that it can be done, because the IFP has built a partnership of trust over more than forty years. We are a known quantity.
When you voted IFP, you knew the IFP’s principles. You knew what the IFP has achieved in this province over four decades, both before democracy and since, in governance and in opposition. We have remained steadfast, never compromising our integrity or shifting our commitment. We have been open with you, and honest about what we can achieve. We have stayed accountable to the people. We have served your needs first.
That is the way it should be. Your public representatives are there to serve you. They are your first point of contact with government. They have a duty to listen to your needs, connect you with assistance, carry your voice into council, and report back to you on what they have done. You are entitled to representatives who are available, reliable, honest and accountable. Because of this, the IFP chooses its councillors to fit the bill. Our councillors are representing the values of the IFP to the people they serve.
Having said this, however, my heart is troubled, for I know that we face a threat. A shadow of disunity hangs over our Party and people are creating camps. This is divisive, and it brings a lack of cooperation that is very damaging. Even within Mtonjaneni’s Executive Committee this is a degree of disunity. The end result is that we spend a great deal of time trying to resolve squabbles. At the leadership level, we are endlessly engaged in settling disputes and trying to reconcile people who should be working together.
This plays right into the hands of our opponents. There is only one thing that can break the strength of the IFP, and that is disunity. We have seen the damage wrought by splits and camps in the past, and we have also seen how well the IFP performs when unity is restored. Our opponents will do anything to disrupt unity within the IFP. But I fear we are doing the job for them, for we are not protecting our unity the way we should.
Our time should be completely absorbed by the coming national and provincial elections. We have just two years to build on our electoral successes and ensure a solid victory in 2019. We cannot afford to be diverted. Let us not be foolish and forget the lessons of the past. The split that was bankrolled by our opponents in 2011 had us focussed on putting out fires instead of mobilising support. We paid a high price in the 2011 elections for letting our focus be diverted.
Now that we have made such giant strides in the Local Government Elections, we must work harder than ever to protect our gains and build on them. Now is not the time to squabble over positions. We cannot allow the spirit of disunity to nullify our victories and destroy the IFP. This is the time to draw together, to strengthen our unity, and to mobilise like never before.
We owe it to the electorate who voted IFP. We owe it to our country that is floundering under weak leadership. We owe it to all those who sacrificed and served to build a party that our people can trust. Let this not be the generation that lets South Africa down by weakening the only party that can stand against corruption, immoral leadership and declining political values.
When we speak of unity, we must accept that Mtonjaneni and Ntambanana have now been merged. There are no longer two separate wards. People must forget Ntambanana, for there is now only one ward. It is all under the egis of Mtonjaneni. There is no benefit to be gained from fighting this. It has happened. We can only move forward.
The Lord was good to us in the Local Government Elections. We regained almost all our lost municipalities. Let us celebrate that victory and build on it. Let us make this a starting point for something much greater in 2019.
Thank you for partnering with the IFP. We are here to serve. We are here for you. Together, will we grow Mtonjaneni.