Mangosuthu Buthelezi's Online Letter
Dear friends and fellow South Africans,
Victory has a way of invigorating political activity. This week, the IFP contested a by-election in ward 12 in Nongoma and we won. Not only did we retain our seat in the ward, but we saw support for the IFP increase since the 2011 Local Government Elections.
In 2011, the IFP won 46% of the vote. On Wednesday, we received 51%.
That is quite a show of support for a party that is supposed to be in decline. But what happened in Nongoma is a microcosm of the bigger picture following the NFP's coalition with the ANC.
In 2011, while the newly formed NFP was protesting loudly that it was as much an opponent of the ANC as the IFP ever was, the NFP gained 37% of the vote in Nongoma. The ANC trailed with 17%. Clearly the ANC was unwanted, but some voters were bedazzled by the NFP's portrayal of itself as a new and improved IFP.
Nevertheless, enough of our supporters knew the IFP well enough to know that they could take us at our word. When we said that a vote for the NFP was effectively a vote for the ANC, many heeded our warning.
One can chalk that up to the strong Nongoma/IFP coalition that we have been building for 36 years.
Immediately after the 2011 elections, the NFP took its votes into a coalition with the ANC in the 19 hung municipalities of KwaZulu Natal.
The electorate was not impressed. It became evident that what we had warned about was true. People may have voted for the NFP. But what they got was an ANC leadership.
Now the NFP is finding it difficult to attack their coalition partner and is proving itself less than credible as an opposition party.
Recognising the voters' disappointment over the coalition, the NFP made some attempts to position its decision as 'the will of the people'. But that old ANC tactic rang hollow, because the people knew well that they had not asked for a coalition. It's not only that they were not consulted. It's that they had just spoken through a democratic election, and their voice was now being ignored.
Nongoma stands as testimony to the electorate's disenchantment with the NFP. But the NFP is saddled with an impossible task if it wants to disassociate itself from the ANC in the mind of the people. It has tried. A few weeks ago the NFP announced that the IFP and the ANC are both the devil. Under that hypothesis, no matter how you look at it, the NFP has willingly joined hands with the devil.
It is hard for the NFP to come up with a clear message. I think of Sir Walter Scott's famous words, "Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive." Thus it must rely on every other tactic in the book.
When the IFP won Nongoma on Wednesday, the NFP immediately accused us of bussing in supporters from other districts to vote. However, it didn't raise this accusation with the Independent Electoral Commission. Rather, it raised it in the media, to cast as much suspicion as possible on the IFP's victory.
Ironically, we have eyewitness accounts of the NFP ferrying people from Dumbe, Phongola and other districts to vote in Nongoma. Some of them were identified by residents as being fraudulently registered.
But the police were reluctant to prevent them from voting because their names were on the voters roll, albeit based on false addresses.
I have raised this matter with the IEC and I await a response. I have done so as a citizen, a patriot and a voter, to protect the integrity of our electoral process. It was not a sour grapes response to an electoral defeat. The IFP won. It was also not a sensationalist ploy to discredit our opponents, for we took it to the proper authority rather than the closest journalist.
I must admit, I had a bit of a laugh when I read the NFP Secretary-General's response to the IFP's victory in Nongoma. In the face of defeat, he boldly announced, "It should also be worth noting that it is victory for the NFP?". Well, thank you, my imagination needed a good stretch..
Yours in the service of the nation,
Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP