Ahead of the 2016 Local Government Elections
Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP
President of the Inkatha Freedom Party
Hunter’s Field Stadium, Katlehong: 10 July 2016
As I stand in this stadium and look out across a sea of IFP supporters, I know that there is hope for South Africa. For as long as the IFP remains strong, there will be a voice of reason in our country. For as long as good people throw their weight behind a party they can trust, the future is assured. No matter what comes, no matter how difficult the days ahead, where a partnership endures between South Africa and the IFP, hope will thrive.
We have seen this before, in the darkest days of apartheid. We have seen it when the tide of violence turned against us. We have seen it when we reached the negotiating table, and when we entered a Government of National Unity. We have seen it when the first blush of democracy faded and when the evidence of weakened leadership first emerged. We have seen it through the years of decline in governance, as a chasm of distrust slowly opened between the people and their leaders.
Throughout all of this, hope remained. A core of good people never gave up. Now those same people fill this stadium, holding onto hope that South Africa can be restored. For years, you have heard and taken hold of the message of the IFP. Do it again today. Take hold of the message that change is possible, and that the power to secure it is in your hands. There is still a leadership you can trust. There is still hope for the future.
Less than a month from today, on August 3rd, voting stations will open across South Africa. This is not about national government or your provincial legislature. This is about the level of government closest to you. It’s about your municipality. The people you vote for on August 3rd will be the people you speak to for the next five years about service delivery in your community. They will be your councillors, your representatives in the municipality. They will be the ones to carry your voice into the municipal council.
It is therefore critically important that you make the right choice. Your vote can secure councillors who respect you, who are available and accessible, who ask your opinion and stand up for you when policies are designed. The best way to get a councillor like that, is to vote for an IFP candidate, because every candidate we are fielding in this election has been hand-picked to serve you with integrity.
Our candidates are ambassadors for the IFP. They know how protective we are over the IFP brand, for we have built a 41 year legacy of clean, good governance. Thus our candidates know that they will be held to a high standard. When they receive your mandate, I and the leadership of the IFP will hold them accountable, making sure that they serve you every day. Your IFP councillor will be responsive, because that’s the way the IFP works. We put people first.
Because of this, when we chose our candidates we went to the branches of the IFP and listened when you gave us names of leaders you trust. The people we have fielded for local government are people you chose. They are leaders in your community, people you know, and people who know you. We understand the importance of a partnership of trust. We will always listen.
This is what sets the IFP apart. It is blatantly obvious that government has stopped listening. This much is clear when we see ANC supporters burning tyres, shutting down the CBD, and looting shops, in protest against their own party. There is so much anger over candidate lists in the ANC, that lives have been lost. Candidates have been rejected before the election is even held. Why must people resort to such extreme measures to get their leaders to listen?
Because their leaders have become isolated from the reality of day to day life. They have separated themselves from the people they serve, and are now simply protecting their own interests. This is not the kind of leadership South Africa deserves. It is not the leadership we fought to secure as we struggled for liberation. Somewhere, somehow, corruption got a foothold in the ANC. And now, years later, it pervades every level of the party.
Through self-serving leaders, government became infected with corruption. Where once we were proud of our fledgling democracy, we are now resigned to headlines exposing scandal and fraud. At all levels, from national government right down to municipalities, corruption has taken its toll. The President himself is under a cloud of allegations, and many within his own party distrust his leadership. The fish, as they say, rots from the head.
So while poverty and hardship continue, government becomes less and less able to meet the needs of our people. Year after year, reports from the Auditor General expose failing municipalities. Financial mismanagement, wasteful expenditure, incompetent officials, tender fraud and a lack of leadership are common features across the board. Again and again municipalities are placed under administration. But there is a lack of political will to do what it takes to solve the problem.
Fortunately, in a democracy like ours, elections place the power to effect change in the hands of the people. Every five years, the power to fire and hire is given to the electorate. Through the ballot box, we can change the way our municipalities are run. We can get things working the way they should. It’s not about tweaking a few things here and there. It’s about securing a fundamental change in leadership, so that the whole system of governance can be administered by a leadership of integrity.
You have seen that kind of leadership before. The IFP has proven that governance can be clean, honest and efficient, if the right leaders are at the helm. We administered the erstwhile KwaZulu Government for 19 years, and not a single allegation of corruption was ever levelled against us. We participated in the Government of National Unity, ensuring that the full body of apartheid legislation was changed to serve the needs of everyone. For the first ten years of democracy, the IFP governed KwaZulu Natal, laying a foundation of development, growth and good governance. And for 41 years we have made local government work, placing IFP municipalities at the forefront of service excellence.
The IFP has a track-record of good leadership. Because of this, you can safely put your trust in the IFP. You know us well and you know what we stand for. Our manifesto for 2016 captures the essence of the IFP’s character. We aren’t trying to dazzle you with meaningless statistics and glossy photos. And we aren’t riding on the failures of others. The IFP is offering a simple, honest and direct message of what needs to be done to get things working for you.
I invite you to read our manifesto and talk about it with your family and friends. Start a conversation about what is possible on the 3rd of August, because it’s time for a positive change. Let me give you some of the good reasons to vote for the IFP. You can –
TRUST US to drive good governance in every municipality.
TRUST US to make job creation the number one priority of all IFP municipalities.
TRUST US to loosen the grip of corruption and restore integrity and accountability to leadership.
TRUST US to speed up the provision of decent housing, without red tape, illegal tenders or false promises. Everyone needs a home, not just a few!
TRUST US to respect the rule of law and create security in your community so that everyone can be, and feel, safe. Our women and children should feel safe in our streets.
TRUST US to select candidates who will work for you. All IFP candidates will sign a contract of good governance, which the party will ensure is adhered to.
TRUST US to deliver services to all in the spirit of Ubuntu, not just to the few at the expense of the many.
TRUST US to declare drought relief an emergency, and to prioritise clean drinking water for all.
TRUST US to help you get food on the table, and healthcare for your family.
TRUST US to speed up the construction of roads and bridges, to provide safe transport and to change the current policing policy with high-visibility policing instead of entrapment.
TRUST US to partner with schools to create a better learning environment for our children.
The IFP has one vision and one purpose and that is to serve all the people of South Africa. I therefore invite you to support a leadership that has earned your trust. We have proven what can be done when honest, accountable, transparent and trustworthy leaders serve South Africa.
There is much at stake on August 3rd and the battle for votes is fierce. The IEC has announced that this is one of the most complex and difficult elections since 1994. We have never been in a situation in which the ruling party is this fractured, in which distrust is so prevalent, and tensions so high. There is factional violence and political assassinations.
Political rhetoric has sunk to new lows, where the leader of the DA could be mistaken for the leader of the EFF. We are used to hearing angry insults from Mr Malema, but now Mr Maimane is shouting, “Zuma must voetsek!” We need to raise the standard of political engagement. It is unethical to capitalise on the righteous anger of our people for the sake of winning votes. What is needed, is leaders who will speak up for truth, and stand on the side of justice.
I urge you to vote with your heads. Don’t get strung along by people who play with your emotions. And don’t let your vote be bought. Every party contesting this election has signed a Code of Conduct at the IEC, promising to protect free and fair elections. The IEC has warned that any party caught contravening the Code will be disqualified. Yet nothing has been done as the ANC continues to abuse state resources and the EFF threatens violence.
There is no doubt that this election will be marred by fraud, intimidation and vote buying. If you want a democratic outcome, you are going to have to protect your vote. Be vigilant when you go to the polls. If you see people being bussed in, and they don’t live in your area, tell our party agents. Tell the police. Tell the IEC. Question things that don’t look right. If anyone intimidates you, or offers you a gift in exchange for your vote, report it. No one has the right to manipulate you. Your vote is your voice. This is the time to be heard. If you are tired of being ignored, do something that will really get your leaders’ attention: vote for the IFP!
Life is hard in South Africa, and it’s going to get harder. Unless the present leaders are replaced with a leadership of integrity, we will continue down a path of economic decline and social upheaval. It’s time to reject the empty promises of irresponsible leaders. Government is not creating jobs. In the first three months of this year, another 15 000 jobs were lost. Trade was the worst affected, then transport and mining. South Africa is one of the wealthiest countries in terms of natural resources. But we have one of the highest unemployment rates in the world.
Millions of South Africans are barred from participating in the economy, because they just can’t find jobs. Families are struggling to put food on the table. Crime is increasing. And the cost of living keeps going up. I live among the poorest of the poor. I know how hard life is for so many people. I know that electricity has become unaffordable for many households, and there are serious problems with inaccurate bills and statements from Eskom.
Life is particularly hard for pensioners, many of whom rely wholly on social grants. Pensioners from Orlando, Diepkloof, Meadowlands, Dube, Mofolo, Jabavu and Mzimhlophe have petitioned the National Assembly for assistance, because SASSA continually deducts amounts before grants are paid. Pensioners then receive only a fraction of what they should. The IFP is applying pressure at national level, directly on the Minister of Social Development, to stop illegal deductions. We won’t let up until you receive exactly what they promised. It is impossible to live on a social grant. Food and electricity are just too expensive. Yet millions do. Your needs simply go unmet.
That is not the way it should be. How can anyone claim we are making progress when more people live in informal settlements today than 20 years ago? The Department of Human Settlements is trying hard to fulfil the basic right to decent housing enshrined in the Constitution. But because of corruption, because tenders are given to inexperienced friends and dodgy construction companies, many RDP houses are uninhabitable. Millions of Rands are wasted fixing poorly built houses, creating delays in further construction. Thus people wait for years on a housing list, and families continue to live in squalor. There is corruption in the housing process, and you pay the price.
It is no wonder anger is rising. Our people have waited 22 years for promises to be fulfilled. When the ANC campaigned on the promise of free education in 1994, we never thought that students would have to riot on the steps of Parliament in 2016 to see that promise fulfilled. We never thought we would see schools being burned to the ground in protest in a democratic South Africa. It was the ANC who taught this form of protest. Now the ANC is the target of what it taught.
But it is the people who suffer. I have spoken against violent protests because I know that when clinics are torched and factories destroyed, jobs are lost and communities suffer. Does it make Government listen? There is a tool far more powerful than protest. There is a way to speak that no one can ignore. And the repercussions for you and your family are wholly good. That tool is your vote.
No one will ignore your voice when you vote IFP. Your message will be loud and clear.
I am amazed at the lengths the ruling party will go to, to shut down the voice of the people. When the Acting CEO of the SABC, Mr Jimi Matthews, resigned, all the rumours were exposed as true. He told us exactly what is happening at the SABC and how political strategies are employed to influence public opinion. Our public broadcaster has become a state broadcaster, a publicity machine for the ruling party. Instead of reflecting South African society, the news has become an endless political advert.
Thus much of what the IFP does and says is kept off your screens, the same way it was during apartheid. Years ago, I was approached by a former SABC senior executive who apologetically admitted to me that he had received instruction from the then Prime Minister Mr PW Botha that Buthelezi was not to be shown on television. They followed that instruction. How is it that 22 years into democracy, the powers that be still keep Buthelezi from being shown? Am I such a threat?
I challenge the SABC to pan across this stadium and show the crowd gathered here on the news tonight. Show South Africa how many people support the IFP in Gauteng. This is a drop in the ocean. There are people across South Africa who are ready to support a leadership they trust. They are ready to vote for the IFP.
We have seen the evidence of this in every by-election since 2011. Through their votes, the electorate has restored the IFP to power in several municipalities, and the call for the IFP to return has been loud and clear. We have seen thousands upon thousands of members returning, having tested the waters in the NFP and others parties. We have welcomed them home and they are making their mark in the IFP.
What has happened to the NFP is tragic. When the Electoral Court upheld the IEC’s decision to disqualify the NFP from this election, thousands of NFP supporters were left in the cold. I know that many are angry, questioning how their leaders could make such a fundamental mistake. It is painful and difficult to accept. While the NFP positioned itself as our opponent, we take no pleasure in this setback, for many of the people suffering now were once members of our own family.
Our message to them has not changed. They are welcome to return. There will always be a political home in the IFP. Whatever you choose to do, I urge you not to forfeit your vote.
This election is about the basics of service delivery and good governance. But there is a deeper significance to the electoral outcome of 2016. An effort is being made to change the political landscape by shifting power from the ANC to the DA. The DA has made no bones about wanting total control. This is not about strengthening democracy. It’s about a show of power.
Whoever wins this battle, will be held accountable by the IFP. Because we intend to be in every municipal council, speaking with the voice of the people. So long as the IFP is present, government will have to answer to you. There will be no unfettered power. We will keep the power where it belongs, in the hands of the people we serve.
I therefore invite you to partner with the IFP and create a future worth winning. On August 3rd, make your mark for a leadership you can trust. Vote IFP!