KwaZulu-Natal Legislature – Debate on Human Rights Day celebration

By

Hon VF Hlabisa – Leader of the Official Opposition and President of the IFP
Thursday 15th April 2021 – Pietermaritzburg

 

Hon Speaker, 
Hon Premier and Hon Members

Today as we hold this debate, I want to begin by paying tribute to the Kings and Queens who long ago waged wars in defence of their people and land against the British and the Boers such as King Cetshwayo, King Dinuzulu, Queen Mantantise, King Hintsa and many others who became the foundations of the liberation struggle long before the political formations.

The IFP also takes this opportunity to salute all the pioneers of our struggle that made contributions towards the present democratic South Africa.  While paying tribute to these men and women we must also reflect and take stock on the progress we have made as a Country in advancing the course of Human Rights since we achieved our freedom in 1994

The date 21 March also occupies a special place in the hearts of the whole leadership and membership of Inkatha Freedom Party. It was on 21 March 1975 when patriots, men and women of South Africa during the dark era in the South African politics met at KwaNzimela in Melmoth under the leadership of Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi and formed the organization then known as the National Cultural Liberation Movement and now, Inkatha Freedom Party. Founded on this day, 21 March 1975, the National Cultural Liberation Movement, now Inkatha Freedom Party, raised the flag and colors of the struggle for liberation. Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi became the only and lone voice that called for the release of Nelson Mandela and all other political prisoners. He also called for the unburning and return of all political organisations from exile. It was not co-incidental that the IFP was founded on this important day in our history, but Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi knew that a political voice of the black people must be launched on this day as on 21 March 1960 the human rights of the black people of S.A. were grossly violated and abused.

The IFP is proud to have been part of the constitution making pre-1994 at Codesa and post 1994 in the National Assembly. Our contribution as the IFP towards the 1996 constitution of our country ensured that South Africa has a bill of rights as a stand-alone chapter of the new constitution

Unfortunately, after such great work and sacrifice by our Patriots to free our people from oppression the Human rights abuses throughout the world has reached a stage of being the pandemic. South Africa is not immune from these human rights abuse. This poses the danger of reversing the gains of racial harmony and social cohesion that South Africa achieved through the constitution making process of 1996.

Whilst our constitution guarantees equality on paper, our people still suffer a lot of inequalities in the economy, in unemployment, at the work places and in gender-based salaries. South Africa is one of the most unequal countries in the world. The outbreak of Coronavirus has laid bare the big social and economic divide that still exists and persists in the communities of our country between the haves and the have nots. What has made things worse, South Africa has created a layer of rich individuals who are fortunate to have relations with those in higher places. While most South Africans sink deeper into unemployment and poverty, this selected few enjoy the opportunities to dig deeper into tenders and other forms of self-enrichment schemes.

Crime, Gender Based Violence and Femicide has undermined the rights to freedom and security of our people as enshrined in the Constitution. Our women and children are not safe in our country. They live in fear as they are brutalized, and murdered by their husbands, boyfriends, families and neighbours. The women of our country who dedicated their lives in the struggle for freedom are watching with disdain and disappointment as the human rights of our women are violated almost every minute in our country. Our farm workers in the country still do not enjoy the rights to land, dignity, life and to fair treatment at the workplace because of the many abuses they are being subjected into by some farm owners.

Our Students at tertiary institutions and universities every year they are subjected to begin the academic year with protests in the quest for free education. The scenes that we witness in our tertiary institutions as students protests in demand for free education, is an embarrassment. Our security personnel must be properly trained on the professional methods of handling protests in a manner that does not use unnecessary excessive force which usually result to the loss of lives. The death of the mistakenly Mthokozisi Ntumba at the hands of the police was unfortunate, a disgrace

Hon. Speaker and Hon. Members; we cannot deal with the subject of Human Rights without addressing the plight of multitudes who still long for the day when they will have access to clean water and sanitation.

And indeed, up to now we still have communities who are trapped in unhealthy conditions in informal settlements of our Province. Some were cajoled to leave the areas they occupied when South Africa was preparing for the 2010 Soccer World Cup. They were told that they would occupy the Transit Camps just for some months and would later be redirected to decent housing. Yet they have not yet reached the Promised land.

When people are made to wait unreasonably, and the wait is not rewarded properly over time through tangible services that are much desired, this has the potential of causing great chaos in the systems of our governance. Whilst acknowledging that not all the needs of communities can be fulfilled at once everywhere, simultaneously, the long wait should but culminate into what can be gratifying in the long run. Sometimes the wait in our communities gets too much whilst corruption is helping itself into the very same resources that people are waiting for. This is unacceptable.

The founding-leaders of this democracy spelt out a dream of every citizen’s right: To have an environment that is not harmful to their health or well-being. The same leaders would be embarrassed if they were to witness the plight of communities in the South-Durban basin, Wentworth, Merewent, Bluff, Mobeni, Isipingo, Umlazi, Ezimbokodweni. These communities, like many others in KwaZulu-Natal, have been sentenced to slow death through dangerous and toxic fumes that they inhale almost daily whether they like it or not. They put up with unbearable smells, some very dangerous, resulting from the garbage in areas of Mayville, Chesterville, Cato Crest, Umlazi, Lamontville, KwaMashu, eMsunduzi, Hambanathi and other predominantly black areas of our Province.

In Conclusion Hon. Speaker and Hon. Colleagues; while there are lot of good things that have been achieved since 1994, the above issues show an unfortunate picture of KwaZulu-Natal and indeed South Africa, since we crossed over to democracy.

The IFP is more than determined to struggle with all South Africans to bring an end to this state of affairs. We therefore call on all citizens to join hands with the IFP to ensure that we put right what is wrong in our country.