His Worship the Mayor of Hlabisa, Councillor VF Hlabisa; the Deputy Mayor, Speaker, Councillors and Officials from Hlabisa Local Municipality; members of the community and honoured guests.
There is something very special about coming to Hlabisa, knowing that the partnership here between the IFP and the people is strong, good and growing. I have come because I want to thank you. Your support has placed the IFP on a path of victory. You have encouraged us to keep working, because you believe in a party where people come before politics. I thank His Worship the Mayor for inviting me to be here, to rejoice with you, and thank the Almighty.
Before the last Local Government Elections I visited Hlabisa to see for myself the good work being done by the IFP in this municipality. I witnessed the opening of the Hlabisa Traffic Department and Driving Licence Testing Centre, and I listened as the Mayor expressed his vision for greater development.
On that same day, we opened Siwohlo-Macekeni Road and Mabhanoyini Road, and the Nkanjini Electrification Project. I knew that these were not isolated events, for there is a long list of achievements in this municipality going back years. The IFP has served Hlabisa since the very beginning. With the first local government election in 1996, the community here put its trust in the IFP. And from the very beginning, we served with excellence. Fortunately for us as leaders and the people of Hlabisa, our Mayor is possibly the longest serving official since 1996.
So when I came here before the August 3rd elections last year, I asked you to keep voting IFP. I asked you to give your mandate to a party you know and trust; a party that has been tested in Hlabisa and has proudly delivered. I reminded you of the importance of choosing the right councillors, backed by the right party, because when you elect an IFP councillor, you are empowering the IFP’s values of integrity, service, participation, respect and hard work.
Over twenty years of municipal governance, Hlabisa has seen what the IFP can do. You have also, very briefly, seen what an alternative leadership can do, when the ANC and NFP formed a coalition to take over Hlabisa in 2011. Very quickly, you judged their motives, capacity and integrity, and rejected them. In 2012, at the first possible opportunity, you restored the IFP to the helm through your vote. That was a good decision.
We have been going strong ever since. Our partnership with Hlabisa never faltered, for the IFP believes in serving for sake of a strong community, a strong nation and a strong South Africa. We don’t stop working when other parties make loud noises and employ dirty tricks to steal votes. We don’t give up when other parties declare they’ll take positions and grab more power. The IFP just keeps working. We are in it to serve. Serving the people is to us a privilege, and we continue to serve the people quietly and with humility.
Thus I asked you last year to give your vote to the IFP. And you did. The results of the 2016 Local Government Elections were a milestone achievement for the IFP. Across South Africa we more than doubled our support. In KwaZulu Natal, we were restored as the biggest opposition party, overtaking the DA in local governance. Zululand District Municipality was given back to the IFP. Nkandla remained firmly in our fold. It is a tragedy that the Zululand District is in our hands only in name. The disloyalty of our own members has resulted in the Zululand District being in the hands of our enemies.
In Ulundi and Nongoma, every single ward that the IFP contested became an IFP victory. Abaqulusi, Mthonjaneni, Msinga and Endumeni are all under IFP leadership. Nqutu too was poised to become an IFP-led municipality, which would give us Umzinyathi District as well, but the MEC for Local Governance has managed to manoeuvre these two municipalities into administration. We still have hope that the will of the people will prevail.
Here in Umkhanyakude District, the IFP won victories in Jozini, Mtubutuba and Big 5/Hlabisa, placing us in leadership at both local and district levels. This is good news for Hlabisa, for it means a strong working partnership between the different levels of municipal governance. The benefits of that, all go to you.
The IFP has built a powerful team. It is not surprising then that this municipality has continued to deliver. Our greatest successes in Hlabisa have been with housing, bursaries, electricity connections, and capital projects like building community halls, pension paypoints, crèches, roads and sports fields. We look at what will immediately benefit you, and tackle those issues first.
Over 4 years this municipality provided bursaries to the amount of R2,1 million proving that when we talk education, we put our money where our mouth is. We believe in skills development. Empowering you to create your own future is far better than promising you a future that can’t be achieved. The IFP does action, not promises. We have too much respect for your brains to try to deceive you with empty promises, which we know cannot be fulfilled.
Living the IFP’s principle of self-help and self-reliance, Hlabisa Municipality has empowered youth and women by supporting cooperatives. Financial support to the amount of R2,5 million has been provided over the past 5 years, and that amount will keep growing.
Year upon year, the municipality is building its capacity, ensuring excellent financial management and visionary leadership. Last year saw a clean audit report from the Auditor General, just like the year before. Indeed Hlabisa was singled out at the 2016 Conference of the Institute of Municipal Finance Officers, in Durban, for showing the most improvement in financial management and control, of all municipalities across KwaZulu Natal. We are getting better at what we do all the time.
Just as we are building on our successes in governance, the IFP must build on our electoral success. The positive results of 2016 must become a foundation for even greater growth. We need to prepare now for the national and provincial elections of 2019. We have just two years to mount a powerful campaign that will see the IFP restored to leadership at every level. If you want to see integrity overcome corruption, and servant leadership replacing arrogance, you need to strengthen the IFP. It starts here.
Let us mobilise support like never before. Let us renew our memberships and take up new membership of the IFP. Let’s get our friends and neighbours and families to sign up to support a party that we all can trust. We need to change the way politics works in our country, taking the power away from those who abuse it, and empowering those with the kind of character we can actually respect.
I am proud of the IFP. We have shown time and again that we are different to other political parties. We are different because we deliver. We are different because we are honest. Now we must prove that we are different because we will never allow money or positions to divide us, as has happened in the Zululand District Municipality. In all these years we have never had management which has not been endorsed by the POC and the NEC.
The kind of fighting we see in South Africa within political parties is really disheartening. Brother is pitted against brother as paying jobs become more important that selfless service. I know that people need to eat. But this mentality of trampling over others to look after number one is antithetical to social justice, Ubuntu Botho and human dignity. The only way to meet the needs of all South Africans is for leaders to serve with integrity, putting others before themselves. Clearly we in the IFP have brought in fratricidal conflict where we are pitted against each other.
I believe that anyone in a position of influence must use their abilities to better the lives of others, without fear or favour. They must serve both those they know, and those they don’t know. They must treat equally the people they agree with, and those who follow a different ideology. Public service is about serving everyone, not just a few.
In the IFP, we serve all South Africans. We don’t expect allegiance first before we’ll lift a finger on your behalf. We earn your allegiance by things we do and the way we do them. We earn your respect and your trust. We earn your support. We earn your vote.
I am humbled to know that the IFP has a partnership with Hlabisa because we’ve earned it. We will keep working for you. We will be recognised by our actions. My greatest hope is that people will look at IFP members and be able to say, “I see the difference. You are people of integrity. You are people I can trust. I want to join you.” When we hear that, we will know that we have served South Africa well.
Thank you for voting IFP! Thank you.