Dear friends and fellow South Africans,
How do you compete against an opponent who has deep pockets and a shallow conscience? On Wednesday the IFP goes into by-elections in Nongoma, where the heart of the people has always beat to the rhythm of the IFP. We have a relationship of trust in Nongoma, built over years of toiling together for the benefit of our people.
The IFP served Nongoma with integrity during the most trying times of Apartheid.
We served Nongoma after 1994, having fought at the negotiating table for a bottom up system of governance that put power into the hands of people at local level, rather than concentrating it all in the hands of the few, at the top.
Throughout the first ten years of democracy, the IFP served Nongoma from the helm of a provincial government that understood democracy and knew how to govern with clean hands.
Since the dominance of the ANC spread throughout KwaZulu Natal, the IFP has been Nongoma’s voice; a loud voice of opposition against the closure of teacher training colleges, against mismanagement of local government funds, against tenderpreneurship and cadre deployment in municipalities, against corruption and against the withering of democracy under the burgeoning hegemony of the ANC.
With this long and effective partnership between Nongoma and the IFP, we enter three by-elections on Wednesday, fighting for all we’re worth to keep Nongoma free and to keep the voice of Nongoma audible above the fury of empty promises and empty slogans from the ANC.
But the ANC lacks any integrity. This week, just days before the by-elections, the ANC rolled into Nongoma and suddenly started caring about the needs of the people. Using State resources, they brought the people of Nongoma gits, specifically the people who live in ward 5 who will be voting next Wednesday.
They effectively gave the people what already belongs to the people, for they used money that is already earmarked for delivering services, to deliver food parcels, fences and irrigation systems.
This was not the ANC delivering. It was Government doing what it’s meant to do.
And it wasn’t ANC money. It was tax money. But ask someone in need what the difference is, and they will very likely not care. That is what the ANC is exploiting.
Last week they suddenly launched a housing project and this week they handed over a school block. But what did they do the week before last? What did they do last month, and last year, and in the ten years since they took power in KwaZulu Natal? The fact is, before this sudden election fever, the ANC did very little for the people of Nongoma.
In fact, in municipalities across KwaZulu Natal which are run by the ANC, service delivery is slowing and finances are in disarray. Several of the hung municipalities that the ANC could not take with an outright victory in the 2011 Local Government Elections, but which they finagled through a deal with the NFP, are now under administration. Within two years of taking these municipalities from the IFP, the ANC has managed to make such a mess that the Department of Cooperative Governance had to step in.
Last week, in my online newsletter, I gave a few facts and figures around corruption in the ANC. There is every reason for the electorate in Nongoma to reject the ANC, knowing that a vote for the ANC is a vote for corruption, mismanagement, waste, incompetence, poor leadership and arrogance. Ironically, throughout its campaign, the ANC has repeatedly commended the electorate of Nongoma on its political maturity. Yet they still think they can buy the votes.
This is deeply unethical, but they don’t care. Less than a year ago the people of Nkandla, the ANC President’s own hometown, saw the light and rejected the ANC. They asked through the ballot box for an IFP leadership, because a leadership of integrity is the only firebreak between South Africa and the rampant corruption of the ANC.
The ANC has never forgiven us. Losing Nkandla is a thorn in their side. Although people across South Africa support the IFP, having people in President Zuma’s own town support the IFP is just too much for them to bear. Somehow the ANC thinks that if they take Nongoma, it will be payback for Nkandla.
But this is not a petty game of settling old political scores. This is about the genuine and lasting needs of the people of Nongoma. I fear, from repeated experience, that once the ANC has ticked Nongoma off its list, their circus will roll back out of town and Nongoma won’t see them again. What will become then of food security, infrastructure development and social assistance?
The service delivery protests igniting in ANC-led municipalities across our country should give some indication of the future if Nongoma allows its vote to be bought next Wednesday.
Nongoma is not the first time we have seen the ANC buying votes with State resources. We have witnessed their dirty tricks again and again. By this stage, even the Chairperson of the IEC, Adv. Pansy Tlakula, has admitted to a parliamentary portfolio committee that the illegal practice of “bussing” people in has become “a widespread phenomenon”.
This involves people being bussed into wards in which they do not live, to sway the vote in favour of a specific party; a party who has already bought their vote in advance. The IEC has warned that this is a criminal offence. Those who are bussing people in, and those who are bussed, lay themselves open to prosecution. Already the police are involved.
More certainly needs to be done to arrest the increasingly unethical tactics used by the ANC to gain power. Democracy is suffering and will ultimately be subverted.
The question remains, how do you compete against an opponent with deep pockets and a shallow conscience? In this case, you fight them with the truth. The truth that the deep pockets they keep dipping their hands into are the pockets of the people they are supposed to serve. And the truth that where the ANC gets power, it leaves a wake of corruption and ailing governance.
May that not happen in Nongoma. May the electorate take the gifts, bought with their own money, and reject the giver. May they strengthen the firebreak between Nongoma and destruction, by voting for the part of integrity – the IFP.
Yours in the service of our nation,
Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP