Dear friends and fellow South Africans,
It is seldom that we see the ANC making good on its promises. So it’s worth noting that President Zuma’s promise, that businessmen who support the ANC will see their fortunes multiplying, is already being fulfilled. One of the businessmen, who spent more than R450 000 to secure a table at the gala dinner where this disreputable promise was made, appears to already have secured a R1.25 billion contract through tender irregularities. The contract was worth R600 million.
Allegations are that another bidder came in at half the cost. But somehow technical evaluation score-sheets were doctored and notice of the winning bid was delivered before the relevant officials had even received or signed off on the bid recommendation. That’s a quick return on a promise.
A slower return is the promise made by the ANC to respect everyone’s right to life and health care, as enshrined in the Constitution. It galls me that President Zuma is now boasting “one of our greatest success stories”, “the remarkable 50% reduction in mother-to-child transmission of HIV”. It galls me because the ANC stubbornly refused to roll out anti-retrovirals to prevent mother-to-child transmission, even telling the Constitutional Court that it couldn’t be done.
But there was ample evidence that it could be done, because the IFP was doing it in KwaZulu Natal, effectively saving thousands upon thousands of lives. We went to Court to ensure that the ANC would be forced to do what the Constitution required it to do; save lives. The Court agreed with us, and the ANC was made to roll out anti-retrovirals across South Africa.
So this great success story is an IFP success story. It’s a story about the IFP providing leadership, while the ANC backtracked and fumbled and talked about African potatoes. Thus when the Executive Director of the United Nations’ Aids Programme asks South Africa to help manufacture medicine on the African continent, we can only hope that the ANC doesn’t again say, “It can’t be done.”
This is but one example of the IFP providing leadership where the ANC fumbled. The current protests in Sasolburg against plans to merge Matsimaholo Municipality with the Mgwathe Municipality near Parys, have reminded us again of the difference between the IFP’s bottom up approach to governance, and the ANC’s top down approach.
We fought this battle at the constitutional negotiating table, where the IFP advocated federalism and greater powers of governance for provinces. In fact, we argued even for the existence of provinces, where the ANC felt a central government, with centralised power, should be able to dictate to all corners of our country.
The IFP believes that governance must happen at the lowest level possible, because democracy means empowering the people to identify the problem, design the solution and oversee the implementation. Those in public service are there to serve.
The looting and violence in Sasolburg, which the IFP nonetheless condemns, was instigated precisely because the people were not consulted, asked, listened to and engaged. Instead, a decision was taken from the top to merge the municipalities, without any discussion in Council, never mind the legally mandated public consultation.
It is interesting that the Mayor has now taken the executive decision to stop the demarcation process, blaming officials for not talking to the people. If municipal officials are not even asked for an opinion, why would they ask the people for theirs? Officials know the bureaucratic culture of the ANC: the top decides, the bottom follows.
When officials rebel against this autocratic rule, as happened in Imbabazane Municipality, where the ANC governs in coalition with the NFP, nervous cadres call on their superiors for help. The ANC in Imbabazane wants the provincial government to place the Municipality under administration.
Why does the ruling party have such trouble listening to ordinary South Africans? I shall never forget an elderly gentleman telling me that we must listen to the youth, because they are not like his generation; they are educated. Why then, when the youth voice their concerns for our country, does the ANC jump up and shout “Treason!”?
The advert of First National Bank, which shows young South Africans voicing their grievances and giving their perspective on the leadership of our country, has riled the ruling party, which believes it is a scripted attack on the ANC. But is it scripted? Is this not what millions of young South Africans are thinking, and voicing outside the platform of adverts?
The IFP listens to people. We hear the hearts’ cry of the youth and we know that many of South Africa’s young people are worried, angry and frustrated. Recognising this recipe for disaster, the IFP has been urging young people to channel their energies into constructive efforts, to oppose all that is wrong in South Africa while building and shaping and ushering in what is good and right.
The IFP Youth Brigade knows how frustration can be turned into hope, and how anger can be transformed through positive actions. Our youth know that urging disruption, social protest and ungovernability bring nothing but violence, destruction and greater dissatisfaction.
It was disastrous for the ANC to light a fuse in the Western Cape, for the sake of trying to “reclaim” it. Let us not be so naive as to dismiss the connection between the farm workers’ strike and the ANC’s public threat to make the Western Cape ungovernable, starting with the agricultural sector. They lit a fire that has far too much kindling in the form of social distress, and it ran out of control.
I still fail to see the logic. Why would people switch their vote to a party that is willing to create chaos if they don’t win? That sounds more like intimidation than an election campaign.
The IFP has been a champion of agriculture for 37 years, constantly advocating subsistence farming and increased support for small-scale farmers, for the sake of food security as well as economic stability, productivity and employment. It seems the IFP is again providing leadership where the ANC is fumbling.
In 1994, agriculture provided 1.8 million jobs in South Africa. By last year, only 661 000 jobs were left. And still the burden on farmers is escalating. Eskom’s mooted price hike over the next five years will put many small-scale farmers out of business. Is the ANC listening? We ordinary South Africans cannot afford to subsidise Eskom’s build programme, or pay for poor planning, poor policies and poor decisions made by leaders at the top.
The National Development Plan declares that a million jobs will be created in agriculture by 2030, half of which will come through subsistence and small-scale farming. Once again, what the ANC intends to do is at odds with what the ANC is actually doing.
Ironically, it should be a refreshing change to see President’s Zuma’s promise to businessmen fulfilled so rapidly.
Yours in the service of our nation,
Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP