Mangosuthu Buthelezi’s Online Letter
Dear friends and fellow South Africans,
The writing is on the wall. The ANC has called in the NFP’s debt and brought it into a coalition that enables the ANC to take control of 19 municipalities in KwaZulu Natal that were hung after the May 18 election.
It was a strategic move by the ANC to usurp control from the IFP at local government level. Prior to the elections, we ran 32 municipalities in KwaZulu Natal; more than the ANC. This irked the ANC no end, because ever since I diverged from the changing vision of the ANC during apartheid and offered disenfranchised South Africans an alternative to the armed struggle, sanctions and external leadership, the ANC has been intent on destroying me.
This is not the fancy of an old man. President Nelson Mandela himself admitted in April of 2002, "We have used every ammunition to destroy him, but we failed. And he is still there. He is a formidable survivor. We cannot ignore him."
I quoted these words in the National Assembly on February 15 this year, during the debate on the President’s state of the nation address, when I brought before Parliament overwhelming evidence that the formation of the NFP was being bankrolled by some ANC leaders.
I detailed how ANC money and propaganda were used to promote Ms kaMagwaza-Msibi; how the ANC Women’s League publically sang "Zanele is ours" long before she left us; how the ANC’s heavyweight, Minister Tokyo Sexwale, publically confirmed the lie that she was being persecuted; how hordes of ANC members flocked to the High Court to support her failed case against us; how the ANC Premier in KwaZulu Natal clandestinely met with Ms kaMagwaza-Msibi just before she split our Party; how the media was paid off to protect her from negative reporting; how a close confidante of the ANC President sponsored NFP members; and how secret funding was provided for the NFP’s campaign in Zululand.
This was part of the body of evidence that proved the ANC was backing the NFP. The plot was to split the vote in the Local Government Elections between the IFP and the NFP, enabling the ANC to gain the majority. A weakened IFP meant a stronger ANC. The effectiveness of this plot was tested in Umlalazi and Umtshezi during by-elections prior to May 18, when NFP members stood as independent candidates and handed those municipalities to the ANC on a silver platter.
This is why Ms kaMagwaza-Msibi did not run into the arms of the ANC when she left the IFP in January this year; because the vote would then still be between the IFP and the ANC. It would have prematurely exposed the truth to the electorate that the NFP was an ANC project.
So when I stood up in Parliament and exposed this truth prior to the elections, it put the ANC-NFP nose severely out of joint.
The hurdle they faced was not how they would win the elections; because enough damage had been wrought and enough groundwork had been done to ensure that the electorate would be divided on the question of the NFP’s veracity as an independent party capable of fulfilling its promises. The real hurdle was how they would spin it to the people when the moment of truth finally came.
The 19 hung municipalities ensured that that moment came sooner rather than later. The ANC could not take control without bringing in the NFP, and the NFP owed the ANC an enormous debt. But, again, how would they spin this coalition to the electorate?
In a painstakingly worded statement, Premier Zweli Mkhize claimed, "the ANC-NFP relationship was not based on political whims. It has been founded on the understanding that the communities under the municipalities that will be co-governed by the ANC and the NFP have instructed us to work together to speed up service delivery."
What utter rubbish. The communities were never asked after the elections whether they would like an ANC-NFP coalition. They were asked their opinion during the elections, and that is where they clearly spoke. Wherever the IFP got more votes than the NFP, or even won the majority, the electorate was saying they preferred the IFP to govern. But the ANC refused to co-govern with the IFP. It was not the will of the people for the ANC to co-govern with the NFP. As always, it was the will of the ANC.
The ANC is an old hand at claiming "the will of the people" for any of its mistakes, schemes and treacheries. But this time the people are not impressed. There have been complaints even from Ms kaMagwaza-Msibi’s most staunch followers that they were not consulted and they have no intention of working with the ANC. Indeed, despite the announcement of an ANC-NFP coalition, the IFP’s Stan Larkan has been elected unopposed as Mayor in Umlalazi and the IFP’s Mrs Xulu as Speaker. The NFP has taken a Deputy Speaker position, while the ANC simply walked out. Clearly the people did not ask for an ANC-NFP coalition in Umlalazi. So much for the ANC’s spin.
The NFP, being young and inexperienced, had a little more trouble with its spin. Ms kaMagwaza-Msibi announced, "We have come to the conclusion that our parties share the same values, desires and vision for the future of the people of this province, hence we need to work together to improve the lives of our communities."
When did she come to this conclusion? She spent the better part of two years protesting that she was more IFP than the IFP itself. Even her court papers couldn’t decide whether she had joined the IFP when she was 13 or 27, nor when she had become National Chairperson. Just days before she took leadership of the NFP – the party which had been prepared for her more than three months earlier – she was still publically protesting that her heart was with the IFP and she would never, ever leave it.
Remarkably, the NFP put forward no ideological differences that would explain why, after decades of promoting IFP policy in a leadership position – a position from which a diverging opinion was never once expressed – Ms kaMagwaza-Msibi felt a new party was necessary. Indeed, the NFP never came up with a coherent vision or mission statement. Its stated values were no different to those expressed in the IFP. Its policies offered nothing new.
Nevertheless, the NFP claimed to be a better version of the IFP because presumably it shared all our principles and ideals, but did so on the basis of "fresh blood". They even campaigned on the back of the IFP’s legacy, claiming the IFP’s successes in governance as their own.
So at what point did the NFP suddenly realise that it was really more in tune with the ANC’s "values, desires and vision"? Well, at the point in which riding the IFP’s coat tails became less lucrative than riding the ANC’s.
The electorate are not fools. Certainly they have been betrayed and led down the garden path, but I doubt anyone could still question the veracity of the IFP’s election claim that a vote for the NFP was a vote for the ANC.
Where does this leave the IFP? There is little point in saying, "I told you so". I have had opportunity in more than 60 years of politics to say those words more times than I can remember. But they have never given me comfort. For in the end it is the people of South Africa who suffer whenever my warnings turn out to be right. It is the people who suffer when the ANC’s plots come to fruition.
The IFP has been forced into a position that we are well-equipped to occupy; that of opposition politics. On Tuesday the IFP Youth Brigade and Sadesmo released a joint statement calling for a grassroots movement among our youth to watch the new coalition every step of the way and be vigilant to expose its inevitable failures and abuses.
I am proud that this initiative was launched by our youth, for it proves that the IFP is still driven by young South Africans who have a passion for democracy. There is nothing staid about us. But our age has given us the gift of experience. The IFP carries many battle scars; many of which signify victories. We have vast experience in holding the ruling Party to account.
We did it when we stood against the armed struggle. We did it when we forced the creation of provinces during constitutional negotiations.
We did it during the arms procurement scandal when SCOPA was headed by an IFP MP. We did it when we sought to bring skills into South Africa through sound migration laws. We did it when we went to the Constitutional Court, forcing the provision of anti-retrovirals to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV/Aids. We did it when we stood up against nationalisation, and we did it with our recent call to filibuster the passing of secrecy laws.
The IFP can do radical opposition. We will remain a thorn in the ANC’s flesh.
Before the ANC called in the NFP’s debt, Ms kaMagwaza-Msibi made a last ditch attempt to salvage her shattered integrity. She said she would consider a coalition with the IFP, if the IFP would apologise for exposing the truth about the NFP. She was asking for the moon, and she knew it.
There was no space for the apology she wanted. We could not deny the truth. At best, we could apologise for making the truth public. But it is in the nature of the IFP to speak the truth and to expose political manipulation that is antithetical to democracy.
We will keep doing what it is in our nature to do, for South Africa is crying out for principled leadership.
Yours in the service of the nation,
Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP
Contact: Ms Liezl van der Merwe,
Press Liaison Officer to Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP. 082 729 2510.