What a remarkable year this has been, for our nation and our Party. In celebration of 40 years in the service of South Africa, the IFP has looked back on our journey and called to mind the many watershed moments that have proven the strength, value and tenacity of our Party. Throughout this year, we have focussed on the legacy of the IFP. That legacy has been built over four decades, through the individual contributions of millions of South Africans, coming together around a shared vision.
We have good reason to be proud and many reasons to celebrate.
I want to thank you, the members and supporters of the IFP, for walking this road with courage, commitment and perseverance. Our Party was created to serve the needs and aspirations of all those who love South Africa, who seek its best interests and who long to make a contribution. From its very foundation, the IFP has been home to the people of goodwill, drawing together under a common banner all those who seek peace, unity, justice and freedom.
This year, as we celebrated the 40th anniversary of the IFP, we have had opportunity to remember the reason we started, the purpose for which we persevered, and the significance of our continued presence on the political landscape. We have also had opportunity to hear from others how they perceive the IFP, for we have had many messages of congratulations, encouragement and support on this great milestone of 40 years.
I think of the words of His Excellency Dr Kenneth Kaunda, former President of the Republic of Zambia, who first advised me to found a membership based organisation to reignite political mobilisation. Dr Kaunda wrote to us in August this year, to commemorate the opening of the Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi Museum and Documentation Centre.
He wrote: “Over the decades, from the time he was much younger, I have noted the words and deeds of Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi… (he) has been very passionate and courageous over issues he strongly feels for… Agree or disagree with him, there is much that we can learn from Mangosuthu’s life experiences.”
Former President Kgalema Motlanthe, speaking at our gala dinner in May this year, spoke of our Party’s on-going significance in the fight for freedom. He said – “Since the formation of the then Inkatha National Cultural Liberation Movement in 1975 to help advance the political interests of the oppressed people of South Africa, history has indeed never been the same in South Africa…
At that time when it was well-neigh impossible to say no to the apartheid establishment (Inkatha) refused to submit…
Today, South Africa is a normal democracy and the IFP is an important if not a critical element of this vibrant democracy. I am confident that the IFP will continue to play a significant role in the evolution of our system of democracy, ensuring that our country remains a united, democratic, non-racial, non-sexist, just and prosperous society for its entire people.”
At the same dinner, the National Chairperson of the ANC, the Hon. Ms Baleka Mbete, thanked me for relating the journey of the IFP and the role we played in liberating South Africa. She asked, “When are we going to have the book in our schools to teach our children this history?” Speaking of my leadership in our country, she said, “I always knew that here was an elder… very fortunately he is still there among us. He is still there as a voice of reason that rises from time to time and reminds us who we are.”
This admiration for the IFP has been echoed by other political parties, by business people, by religious leaders, and by people of influence from around the world. The former President of the European Parliament, and Chairperson of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation in Germany, wrote to me just this week, congratulating the IFP on its anniversary. He wrote –
“Since its formation in the early seventies, the IFP under your distinguished leadership has been an important voice in South Africa’s political discourse. The contribution that the IFP has made to the democratic transition of this country cannot be overemphasized.
In South Africa’s current political dispensation which is dominated by one political party, representatives of the IFP in parliament, provincial governments and municipal councils ensure that multi-party democracy is alive and that a pluralistic set of voices is heard.
The journey of the IFP is a remarkable one. The South African Constitution which is hailed internationally as one of the most modern constitutions in the world clearly features some of the core principles and convictions of your party… I wish you and the IFP happy celebrations and all the best for your future journey.”
Central to all the messages of support we have received is this one idea that the IFP still has a crucial role to play. While we have a remarkable legacy, so too do we have a remarkable future. As we hold our final 40th anniversary rally, let us therefore turn our attention from a glorious past to a future that is yet to be written.
The future of the IFP will be built on a solid foundation. It will be built with the hands and voices of this generation, and the next. It will move forward on the strength of the IFP’s principles, which have never been abandoned. These principles have proven effective in the struggle against all forms of oppression, hardship and adversity. They will be effective in the battles to come, and they must be the weapons of our present conflict.
There is no question that we stand on a battleground today. South Africa is locked in a struggle against poverty, inequality, unemployment and corruption. These are the enemies of our prosperity. They are what stand between us and progress, between us and development, between us and hope.
The Medium Term Budget Statement delivered by the Minister of Finance last month was unequivocal in spelling out economic crisis. Instead of the usual upbeat rhetoric, we were given the facts as they stand. South Africa’s economic growth is negligible.
Our Government’s debt is growing. Food prices are going to increase. Hardship will continue. At the same time, statistics have been revised to put unemployment at more than 25%. A quarter of those who are able to work, cannot find a job. Millions upon millions of South Africans are facing poverty. In the midst of this, the rising anger of young South Africans is both understandable, and dangerously explosive.
The present fight for free education is born out of the need for young South Africans to secure their future in a very uncertain economic climate. Our youth are asking for the opportunity to create their own future. Access to education cannot be barred to those with limited resources. We are shooting ourselves in the foot if we make education a preserve of the few, for we need skilled, empowered, educated citizens to build our economy. If we are to get through this time of economic crisis, we need the contribution of every South African, and that contribution must be optimised.
“Education for Liberation” has been the clarion call of the IFP for 40 years. We established this principle in the fight against bantu education during apartheid, which sought to keep the majority under-educated. And we maintain this principle in the present fight against poverty, unemployment and economic crisis. Education is the tool of liberation.
We believe it is the responsibility of a democratic government to empower this generation to shape tomorrow. We believe in the basic human right of access to education. Indeed, it was the IFP who fought at the negotiation table to have a Bill of Rights enshrined in our democratic Constitution. When we gathered at Kempton Park as representatives of the various voices in South Africa, the IFP was ahead of the debate in many respects. We tabled the need for a full bill of rights, social and economic rights, a constitutional court, independent organs of state controlling the executive, the recognition of indigenous and customary law, a federal state with provinces, and many other aspects of a modern constitution.
But we had to fight to have the Bill of Rights included. The ANC’s position was that they would never abuse the rights of South Africans, and there was therefore no need to enshrine these rights in the Constitution. They insisted that the ANC is morally upright and always acts in the best interests of the people.
But the IFP had been witness to the ANC’s single-minded pursuit of power beyond freedom. We had seen them abandon the founding principles of our liberation struggle to embrace bloodshed and violence. And we knew that given unfettered power, corruption would be a constant threat.
The IFP therefore fought with dogged tenacity for the inclusion of the Bill of Rights. We wanted to be sure that what the ANC preached, was what the ANC delivered, if the people empowered them to govern. At those first democratic elections, and for twenty one years since, the IFP warned the ANC not to make empty promises to the people of our country: promises that could not be fulfilled. Yet for twenty one years the ANC has been promising jobs for all, free education, and a better tomorrow.
We have waited for tomorrow to dawn. But it never comes. They have failed to fulfil the most fundamental promises they made to South Africa. One might reasonably say, “They lied to you”. For the past few years, we have seen service delivery protests igniting in municipalities across South Africa. It has become common to see people burning tyres and throwing rubbish into the streets, angry at a lack of services from their ANC-led municipality. There is disillusionment among voters who empowered a party they thought would deliver, only to find that year after year nothing changed.
For the first five years of democracy, the IFP served in the Government of National Unity. We then served in President Mbeki’s Government, continuing our pursuit of reconciliation and nation-building. In those first years, Government achieved significant milestones for South Africa’s people. But as the years went on, development slowed, service delivery decreased and corruption set in.
When the IFP held the majority in KwaZulu Natal, we cooperated with the ANC, even though it was a difficult relationship, for we believe in reconciliation and democracy. Now, however, they ignore the IFP’s advice simply because it comes from the IFP. This is to the detriment of our country. I think for instance of my advice to the President to appoint a trained police officer to the position of National Commissioner of Police, after corruption ended the careers of two Commissioners. He ignored my advice, and again the Police Commissioner has had to be suspended.
We have had to fight hard to get the ANC to listen to the good sense of the IFP. I think of how we had to take our fight for anti-retrovirals all the way to the Constitutional Court. The IFP had rolled out anti-retrovirals across KwaZulu Natal, to stop mother-to-child transmission of HIV/Aids. We saved many lives. But national Government refused to follow suit. By joining the Treatment Action Campaign the IFP enabled the Constitutional Court to instruct Government to roll out anti-retrovirals across the country. The ANC was forced to follow our example, and countless lives have been saved.
Why is the ANC failing you to this extent?
Because instead of employing the right people to positions in government, they give jobs to pals, which means the person responsible for taking policy decisions, managing the budget, and ensuring that services are delivered, seldom has the requisite skills.
Competition for plum positions is fierce, and often service delivery takes a back seat to politicking and in-fighting as ANC cadres battle it out for positions. There are cases of service delivery actually being sabotaged from within, as one candidate seeks to make another look bad. This happened in eThekwini Municipality when competition for the mayoral position pitted two ANC colleagues against each other.
Suddenly key portfolios started failing. Medical waste piled up at the city’s 90 clinics, contracts went unrenewed, obstructing the work of metro police officers, and development projects came to a standstill. Power still trumps in the ANC. It trumps service delivery. It trumps honesty. It trumps your right to efficient governance. And the pursuit of power has allowed corruption to put down roots.
These are the reasons the ANC is failing you. There is lack of integrity, and lack of moral leadership. How then can South Africa survive an economic crisis under the ANC? The first step is to make them more accountable to the people at the very coalface of service delivery. The way to do that is through Local Government Elections.
The electorate must empower voices of opposition, to keep unfettered power in check. Multi-party democracy must be strengthened, so that you will never be dictated to and will never have to accept less than you deserve.
The question is: which opposition do you empower? In a climate of uprising, the temptation exists to support radical, firebrand parties who jump on every bandwagon and appropriate every popular cause. But any fireman will tell you that fighting fire with fire makes no sense.
South Africa is burning under poor leadership, and we are rightly angry, frustrated and distressed. But we need to fight this fire with its opposite element. We must fight corrupted leadership, with moral leadership. We must fight social injustice with principled action. The weapons of rhetoric and division merely pour fuel on the fire. The goal is to put the fire out, restore what has been burnt, and begin building defences against another crisis. That is the role of the IFP. Let us empower the party that knows how to build, that knows how to restore, and how to create peace. Let us empower the IFP.
There is a future that has not been written yet. It will be written with the hands and voices of this generation. It will be written on the ballot papers of a Local Government Election. In that future, the principles of the IFP will be wielded by the people of goodwill, and corruption will fall. Weak leadership will fall. Empty promises will be rejected, and South Africa will rally behind individuals who have proven their worth; not with words, but with actions.
That is a future the IFP believes in. It is one we are fighting to achieve. I urge you to join us as we continue the journey of the IFP. Let the voice of this Party be heard in the midst of the battlefield. Our cry is the cry of unity, solidarity and freedom.
As we celebrate the future of the IFP, I wish to quote a young poet and author who is with us today, Ms Jabulile Buthelezi. She writes:
“You are a leader by default, you are a catalyst of change starting from where you were born and bred… When you achieve, you do not achieve for yourself but for everyone in contact with you. When you fail it has a way of affecting those around and behind you too… I believe a true leader serves others first, and in serving them he is transformed into a leader unbreakable, unshaken and unmoved by any life circumstance, because he or she has simply built nations of leaders behind them.”
Friends, in the years to come, the IFP will build our nation. It is what we were created to do. So let us move forward in the certain knowledge that we are walking in our destiny.
I thank you.