Mangosuthu Buthelezi's Weekly Newsletter to the Nation
My dear friends and fellow South Africans,
Last weekend, amid much commentary, colour and excitement, the ANC breakaway party, the SA Democratic Congress, was born. The IFP broadly welcomes the fledgling movement's declared commitment to unhindered public policy debate that had been suppressed in the 'old' ANC.
The IFP finds it refreshing to hear constructive criticism of some past government policy failures from former ANC representatives instead of standard declarations of the ruling party's stolid infallibility. It is most refreshing and timely.
In the months ahead, I hope that the energy generated by the National Convention for Democracy (held last weekend in Sandton with IFP representatives present) will be channelled meaningfully and positively towards improved service delivery.
We also commend the lucidity with which the National Convention for Democracy has identified deficiencies and deformities of both the constitutional framework negotiated at CODESA and the implementation of ANC government policy.
One must also, on balance, recognise that whilst the introspection of the ANC breakaway party leadership into past policy failures is welcome, we in the IFP do not see how these leaders can disown policies they themselves helped to shape and for which they bear political responsibility.
The IFP has also noted that much of the introspection by the ANC breakaway party into past policy failures, for example OBE in education is no novelty; indeed such items have been on the agenda of the opposition parties, like the IFP, for a long time.
Similarly, the IFP is aware that many policy proposals that attest to the reformist spirit of the ANC breakaway party, such as the new party's proposed reform of South Africa's electoral system towards greater accountability, have long been championed by the opposition parties but explicitly rejected by the very same representatives who today lead the ANC breakaway party. This conversion is as dramatic as the one St Paul experienced on the road to Damascus.
A week is, indeed, a long time in politics! Only time - and results - will test the new movement's credibility.
In my message to the Congress at the weekend delivered by Dr Lionel Mtshali, the Leader of the Official Opposition in KwaZulu-Natal, I reiterated my conviction that under our Constitution, Parliament ought to play the central role in crafting policies, the making of laws and the governing of our country. This would remedy the problems that have beset our democracy
The reality, instead, has been that our Parliament has been bypassed and reduced to the role of a rubber stamp. The President of the country is fired and a new one is selected and Parliament is merely called upon to ratify this decision. We are governed by executive writ.
At the present time, the policies of government are made by an unaccountable executive committee comprising people who are not even elected. They are then, I observed, handed down to our departments of state which then panel-beat them into laws which are, in turn, handed down to Parliament to adopt.
In the past fifteen years, Parliament has adopted hundreds of laws handed down to it without any substantial changes, perhaps with the exception of the legislation which I introduced when I was the Minister of Home Affairs for ten years. This top-down approach is not how our Constitution was meant to work!
The values underpinning our society are under threat. What we have today is a far cry from the future our forefathers promised us in 1912 and to which my generation dedicated its life of struggle.
Our society, I believe, must somehow come together to reclaim these values and should do so not within politics, but also beyond that which divides the political world from civil society. Civil society is rightly becoming increasingly distant and disenchanted with politics.
We must forge a new movement which, like the ANC in 1912, has the capacity to create an all-inclusive initiative to promote the growth and development of democracy; a movement which respects the building blocks of our society, such as churches, traditional leadership and business.
The IFP says that the time has come to truly empower our provinces, municipalities, state-owned companies, private companies, NGOs and the other institutions of civil society and free them from the Machiavellian web of political power and intrigue so that freedom and liberty may reign. The time has come to free the state and the independent commissions established under our Constitution from political manipulation so that they may serve all.
We must regain the spirit of 1912 and the Constitution without fearing the freedom and liberty they both promise.
Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP
Contact: Jon Cayzer, 084 5557144