Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP
President of the Inkatha Freedom Party
Change is brewing in Mtubatuba. You can feel it in the air. Over the past few months, many government officials and politicians have visited this community, and suddenly clean-up projects and other government programmes have become highly visible. There is a good reason for all this activity. In 10 days’ time, on Wednesday the 6th of May, 19 by-elections are going to be held across Mtubatuba and an entire new municipal council will be elected.
That is an unusual event. Usually we see by-elections in only one ward of a local municipality, when a councillor resigns or a seat becomes vacant. But something unusual happened in Mtubatuba, and the opportunity has opened to completely change who runs the municipality, how it is run, and what level of service you will receive from now until next year, when Local Government Elections are held.
I have come here today for four reasons –
One is that I want you to know what has happened in Mtubatuba that has opened this opportunity, so that you will be equipped to make a wise political decision on the 6th of May.
Two, I want to propose a partnership between you and the IFP with clearly defined goalposts and a clearly defined timeframe.
Three, I want to warn you about the battle that lies ahead to get your voice heard and respected in Mtubatuba. It’s a battle we’ll fight alongside you and on your behalf.
And finally, number four, I want to welcome new members joining the IFP, and welcome back those who are returning to their political home.
Let us begin, then, with our first task: understanding what has happened in Mtubatuba. Over the last few years, your municipality has fallen apart. It has failed to serve you and has wasted money. Those who claimed to represent you have spent their time in political power games, bickering and mismanaging resources. For the first time, Mtubatuba has seen service delivery protests, because you have been forced to raise your voice just to be heard.
Why has all this happened? It has happened because two political parties, both in bad faith, jumped into a coalition agreement immediately after the 2011 Local Government Elections. Neither of them had any intention of serving in a genuine partnership. They simply didn’t get enough votes to take control of the municipality alone, so their leaders hastily arranged a marriage of convenience.
The ANC went into it thinking they could discard the NFP as soon as possible.
They just needed NFP councillors to make up the numbers. It wasn’t the first time they’d used the NFP. Indeed, they supported the NFP’s formation because they hoped to use it to annihilate the IFP – something they haven’t managed to do in almost forty years of trying. Again, they have not succeeded. One can’t help but remember the words of Mandela, who said about me, “We have used every ammunition to destroy him, but we failed. And he is still there. He is a formidable survivor. We cannot ignore him.”
The NFP’s leadership, on the other hand, went into this marriage of convenience thinking that the ANC would carry them along. After all, the ANC owed them politically for splitting the IFP’s vote in the Local Government Elections. But the NFP’s councillors were not so happy. After 2011, many NFP councillors complained that they’d never been consulted about this marriage of convenience and they didn’t want to work with the ANC. Almost immediately, NFP councillors in places like Mtubatuba, Umlalazi, Umtshezi and Hlabisa began voting against their coalition partner, in favour of the IFP.
This rocky start to the ANC/NFP coalition did not improve, because the intention behind it was never to serve, deliver or create good governance. It was simply to grab power. Within a year, municipalities taken over by the ANC/NFP coalition bore the hallmarks of failure. Jozini was in trouble. Mkhanyakude was in trouble. Zululand District was in trouble. Indaka was in trouble. Abaqulusi was in trouble. Umlalazi was in trouble. Nongoma was in trouble. uPhongolo was in trouble. And, yes, Mtubatuba was in very turbulent waters.
Instead of delivering on all the promises they had made before the elections, the ANC and the NFP were running Mtubatuba into the ground. It was not just that they couldn’t agree politically and were locked in power struggles. They mismanaged the finances of this municipality to such an astounding degree that the MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs had to place Mtubatuba Municipality under administration.
In other words, provincial government had to take over where local governance had failed. The centre of governance was moved further away from you, rather than being brought closer, as should be the case in a thriving democracy.
Yet even under administration, things didn’t improve. And you felt it. Your eyes were opened to the incompetence and poor leadership of the ANC, and their partner, and as soon as by-elections started happening, support started flowing back to the IFP.
In every by-election since 2011, the electorate has spoken clearly through the ballot box. People are calling for a return of the IFP. The IFP won by-elections in Mtubatuba, in Ulundi and in Nongoma, where we increased our percentage of the vote. We won in Nqutu and increased our percentage by almost 20%. We won in Umtshezi, and also took uPhongolo from the NFP.
We won for a second time in Nongoma and increased our percentage of the vote. We again increased our share of the vote in Nqutu. We took Hlabisa from the NFP, and we won in KwaMashu more than once. Indeed, in one by-election we got more than twice the votes of the ANC and far more than three times the votes of the NFP. That speaks volumes.
The IFP even won Nkandla, the hometown of the ANC President, where the electorate unequivocally asked the IFP to lead. South Africans are rejecting poor leadership everywhere and are asking the IFP to return.
Each of these by-election victories is important. But the by-elections that are taking place in Mtubatuba on the 6th of May are possibly more important than any of them. Because in Mtubatuba you are not just replacing one councillor and changing one seat in the municipal council. You’re choosing a whole new leadership, all on one day. That means you can take this municipality away from those who have failed you, and elect a better leadership: the unified, driven and experienced IFP.
Earlier this year, the MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs announced that the Municipal Council would be dissolved and all 38 councillors were relieved of their duties. This precipitated 19 by-elections in Mtubatuba.
The MEC blamed the breakdown in the Municipal Council on “poor leadership”, “internal bickering, maladministration and poor financial management”, “with unauthorised, irregular and wasteful expenditure”. The municipality, she said, had been largely dysfunctional since 2012.
I have a question. If this municipality has been dysfunctional for more than three years, why are you only now being given the chance to change things? Why are you only now asked your opinion through the ballot box? Mtubatuba should never have had to endure four years of self-serving, incompetent, bad faith representatives. You should never have been forced to engage in service delivery protests just to be heard. When did you ever have to do that under an IFP administration?
When the IFP administered Mtubatuba there was a partnership between you and the IFP. We governed together, sharing ideas of what was needed in Mtubatuba and together ensuring that service delivery could take place, even when resources were scarce.
That brings me to my second reason for visiting Mtubatuba today. I want to invite you to re-enter that partnership with the IFP.
There is just one year to go before Local Government Elections. I want to propose that you give the IFP your mandate to rebuild Mtubatuba. Give us your vote now, on the 6th of May, and then watch us carefully. Watch what we do in one year. See if we deliver. One year from now, if your partnership with the IFP has worked, we can strengthen it through the Local Government Elections. But if we haven’t served you the way we should, you can fire us.
There is, really, nothing to lose in voting for the IFP on the 6th of May. But there is much to be gained.
On the other hand, Mtubatuba will suffer a tremendous setback if you vote for those who have already failed you. I know that both the ANC and the NFP are telling you they could do better if they governed alone. Each is blaming the other for their failed marriage. But the truth is that it takes two to tango.
They have both failed the people they serve. They have both failed you. Neither of them has been willing to set aside political ambitions for the sake of service delivery. Neither of them has been willing to focus on your needs, preferring instead to focus on who said what to whom behind closed doors.
Bickering and backstabbing have paralysed this municipality.
So when they claim they could do better if they governed alone, you should ask yourself why they didn’t do their best in the four years you have given them.
They don’t deserve another chance, and they certainly don’t deserve to get all the power when they failed you so miserably with half the power. Don’t let their rhetoric fool you.
Right now, as parties vie for your vote on the 6th of May, all sorts of tricks will be used, not just empty rhetoric. I want you to know what kind of battle you are facing to get your voice heard in Mtubatuba. That, as I said, is the third reason for my visit today. I think some of us are still unaware of the tricks that are used to secure votes at election time, and you allow your vote to be bought very cheaply.
In every election since 1994, and in every by-election, there has been electoral fraud and deceit. There is a misguided belief within the ruling party that power should be kept in the ANC at all costs, even if that means compromising electoral freedom. The IFP has raised specific incidents and general patterns of electoral fraud with the IEC on many occasions. When the vote is manipulated, democracy is subverted, and your voice is ignored.
We don’t just raise these concerns when our opponents win. We raise them even when we win. When the IFP won a by-election in Nongoma, I still wrote to the Chairperson of the IEC drawing her attention to eyewitness accounts of the NFP bringing people from Mtubatuba and other districts to the polling stations in Nongoma. Some were identified as non-residents, yet the police said there was nothing they could do as these people were on the voters’ roll. They had been registered under false addresses. Nothing was done to prevent them from voting.
That is not the first time this kind of fraud has happened. It has become widespread and is practiced on a large scale. I therefore urge you to be vigilant, to ensure that people are not brought in from outside Mtubatuba to vote in the May 6 by-election. You know the people in your ward. If you don’t recognise someone, or you know they don’t live in Mtubatuba, tell an electoral officer, tell an IFP party agent, tell the police. Voter fraud is a criminal act. It disrespects your right to have your vote decide your leaders.
Why should someone who doesn’t live in Mtubatuba get to decide who should lead Mtubatuba? If they’re brought in to vote, you can be sure their vote has been bought.
There is another form of deception that I want you to be very aware of. In the past few months, since it was decided that the leadership of Mtubatuba would be up for grabs, government officials have suddenly descended on Mtubatuba with all sorts of state-sponsored programmes and projects. Provincial Government has donated outdoor gym equipment. Provincial Government has held community discussions on xenophobia. Provincial Government has committed R1.7 billion to infrastructure development.
But provincial government is not the ANC. I want you to be very clear on this.
When government comes here, it is not the ANC coming here. Government uses your money to do what they are constitutionally mandated to do. When government officials bring programmes and imbizos here, they are doing the job of any government. Whether it was the IFP in government or the ANC in government, government would be required to perform these functions for you.
What is interesting is that when the ANC is in government, government ignores Mtubatuba until there’s a chance they might lose your support. When an election is looming, as elections are now, government officials are suddenly all over Mtubatuba.
It’s not your local councillors delivering these services. It’s provincial government and national government. Why have your local government representatives failed you so completely? Efficient democratic governance is when you and your local representatives work together closely every day, regardless of whether its election time or not, to address local issues and fix local problems.
That’s why the IFP has always advocated governance from the ground up. We move governance closer to the people, putting it in your hands.
The ANC would have you believe that they are doing all these things for Mtubatuba. But in truth, government is simply doing – at last – what it is supposed to do. Thus, if we woke up tomorrow with the IFP in government, you would still get the R1.7 billion that provincial government has committed to Mtubatuba to improve infrastructure and revamp the CBD. That money is coming to Mtubatuba from government, not from a political party.
The only difference would be, if the IFP were administering it, that money would be spent without waste, without tender fraud, without mismanagement and without inflated costs. It would be spent efficiently, achieving exactly what it was meant to, on time, for your benefit.
That is one thing our opponents can’t get away from. They can’t explain away financial mismanagement in Mtubatuba, blaming it on coalition politics. Money has been wasted in Mtubatuba, just as it has been wasted in countless municipalities run solely by the ANC. Across South Africa, 90% of municipalities are failing to get a clean audit report. Across South Africa, an ANC-led administration is failing to root out corruption, failing to deliver services and failing to fulfil the endless promises they make to the electorate. All the protests that are taking place throughout the country, occur in ANC administered municipalities, because of the ANC‘s failure to give adequate service delivery. Mostly because of corruption.
The solution for Mtubatuba is clear. We need to get Mtubatuba back into partnership with the IFP. You know that the IFP stands for good governance, accountability, integrity and servant leadership. You know the values of the IFP. It is these values that attract people of goodwill to our party. We don’t make empty promises. We earn your trust through our actions. And forty years of consistent action have made the IFP worthy of your trust.
I want to thank those who are returning to the IFP today for remembering the IFP’s values. I know that it is this that has brought you home. I applaud you for not becoming apathetic and disillusioned about politics. Having seen what our opponents are like, one could understand if you were tempted to give up on political activism. Instead, though, you have thought carefully about your contribution and where it could best be made. Why should you be denied the right to make a contribution, just because you’re in the wrong party? How wise you are to have come home.
Those who are returning will know the IFP. There is only one warning I want to sound. While we remain the IFP you know in values, principles and character, the IFP you are joining is not the IFP you may have left. We have become far stronger and more unified since 2011, when ructions divided our party. We have had four years to rebuild, and we found that, once disgruntled elements left and formed their own party, the IFP immediately began to grow stronger.
There is no space in this IFP for gossip and bickering. There is only space for unity of purpose and hard work. If you are willing to become part of a team that is focussed on growing and serving, you have come to the right place. The IFP is home to those who want to make a positive difference, those who have a contribution to make. We are home to political activists, to young patriots, to women, to entrepreneurs, to job seekers, to those who work the land and to all those who seek the best for our country.
I invite you to enter a partnership with the IFP and to become politically active on behalf of our party. The best thing you can do in the next 10 days is to mobilise support for an IFP victory in Mtubatuba on the 6th of May. With the IFP, government programmes won’t disappear when the polling stations close. With the IFP, good governance will continue through local leaders you can trust; leaders who are committed to putting you first.
I welcome you to the IFP. Let’s make our mark together.
IFP Media, Parliament