Dear friends and fellow South Africans,
With the celebration of Mothers' Day on Sunday, many families were brought together around a shared desire to honour the women at the centre of our homes. For the IFP, honouring women, particularly those who carry the responsibility of raising the next generation, is second nature. In all we do, we celebrate the role of women in shaping our nation and forging our future.
We know that women are the backbone of our Party, just as they are the backbone of South Africa. For 38 years, the IFP has placed women at the forefront of political, social and economic development. We have empowered women with skills, resources, support and hope. We have tried, always, to help women embrace a sense of their God-given dignity.
In a world such as ours, this is not always an easy task. Women, more than men, bear the brunt of the social and economic challenges in our country.
Many women are facing abuse; emotional, physical, verbal and sexual. Many are facing the hardship of unemployment and the desperate uncertainty of how to feed their families. Many have terrible decisions to make.
One such decision, particularly for women in the Western Cape, is whether they will compromise on what they know to be moral and legal, in order to make some money. This is not about getting rich and buying a fancy car. This is about making ends meet to put food on the table and keep a roof overhead.
Recently mothers on the Cape Flats and in other gang-troubled areas were asked by the authorities not to do favours for gangs, in return for protection or payment. It has become evident that some mothers are selling drugs for gangs. One can understand the fear and desperation behind this. It is part of the complex landscape of gangsterism that fractures communities.
On Sunday, as Mothers' Day was celebrated in many homes, gang violence did not take a break, here or anywhere else. A Mothers' Day Parade in New Orleans, in the United States, turned into a nightmarish scene with nineteen people being shot. This was not an act of terrorism, but part of on-going gang violence in the city.
In Gugulethu, families doing some shopping and enjoying a Mothers' Day meal at the Gugulethu Square Shopping Centre found themselves in the middle of a gunfight, when a gang of youths attempted to rob a store. Six people were injured.
In Blue Downs, Pastor Ivan Waldeck and his wife were returning from the Sunday service when gunmen opened fire on their vehicle in an attempted assassination. Thanks God, they both survived. Pastor Waldeck is a well-known figure on the Cape Flats. He is a former gangster and one of the founders of the Community Outreach Forum, known as CORE, which negotiates peace between gang leaders.
The other founder was former prisoner turned pastor, Pastor Albern Martins.
Pastor Martins presided over hundreds of gang funerals and brought together rival gangs to agree on periods of peace. On Mother's Day in 2001, Pastor Martins held a church service in Belhar which was attended by affiliates of the 26s gang, Sexy Boys, and the 28s gang, The Firm.
But just two months ago, he was shot and killed outside the Blue Downs Magistrate's Court.
These acts of violence have a tremendous and far-reaching impact on communities. The IFP understands the dynamics of violence and we understand what mothers are facing in gang-torn communities like the Cape Flats. We stand in solidarity with mothers who long to do the right thing.
The IFP, unfortunately, comes from a past of violence as we were pulled into the dynamics of the ANC's People's War. During Apartheid, we rejected violence as a tool of political liberation and refused to engage an armed struggle. But Inkatha suffered for this principled stand and we lost many, many supporters.
Ordinary men and women, waging a liberation struggle under the banner of Inkatha, found themselves victims of the ANC's People's War, which had the key purpose of sowing chaos, bloodshed and terror. Countless acts of violence were perpetrated against individual members of Inkatha, until, day upon day, death upon death, a groundswell of anger gathered enough momentum to explode into a retaliatory attack.
When this happened, the propaganda machinery went into over-drive. In her seminal book titled "People's War", Dr Anthea Jeffery's writes:
".the ANC was the only organization to draw benefit from the 15 000 political killings that took place in the early 1990s (after all major apartheid laws had been repealed), for it used these to stigmatize De Klerk and the IFP; stampede negotiators into giving it what Joe Slovo called 'a famous victory' in negotiations; and against this background, it is not surprising that most of the violence was directed against Inkatha, which already had a million members in KwaZulu/Natal and on the Reef when the people's war began and so posed the greatest obstacle to the ANC's determination to dominate a post-apartheid South Africa. The IFP also bore the brunt of the casualties, for the police were correct in their analysis that 'the ANC was waging an aggressive war' against the IFP 'by military means' and that the IFP was 'disadvantaged in its resistance' because it 'lacked the quantity and sophistication of the weaponry available to the ANC'."
Within this war, Inkatha lost men and women, young and old. Families suffered the searing pain of grief and loss, and mothers bore the brunt of this anguish. Mothers in Inkatha reached out to one another and supported one another. They joined hands and stood as a united wall against fear and fury, both of which drove the endless cycle of revenge attacks. It was mothers who urged their children to stay on the right side of the law and the right side of their conscience. It was mothers who stood against bloodshed and hatred.
In many instances, death still came. Families were still touched by violence even when they rejected violence and worked to bring peace to their communities. But these women who stood against the encroachment of evil retained a sense of dignity that will never be forgotten. They were beautiful, strong and powerful, even while helpless and vulnerable.
There are still mothers who remember that time in our country's history.
There are still mothers for whom Mothers' Day invokes sad memories of loss.
There are also mothers whose grief is fresh, because political violence still mars our country. It is these women on whom I call to stand in solidarity with the mothers who live day in and day out with the threat of gangsterism in their communities and homes.
Let our IFP women, who remember the past and how we got through it, join hands with the women of the Cape Flats, Blue Downs, Lavender Hills, Gugulethu and wherever gangsterism thrives, and help them to make decisions that will leave them with their dignity.
We do this as one part of our work against violence, which has many aspects in many forums. The IFP fights violence in every form, at every level. Our fight is in Parliament and in the Portfolio Committees on Police, Justice and Constitutional Development and Correctional Services. But it is also on the streets, in communities, hand in hand with ordinary people. Your fight is our fight. You are not alone.
I urge mothers and women who need assistance in this fight to contact the IFP in the Western Cape on 021 403 2237 or [email protected]
Yours in the service of our nation,
Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP