Hon. Velenkosini Hlabisa MP
President of the Inkatha Freedom Party and
Leader of the IFP Caucus in the National Assembly
Empumelelweni Sports Field, Kwa-Quqa, Witbank
28 October 2023
Hon. MB Gwala, IFP National Chairperson; Hon. TP Madlopha-Mthethwa, IFP Deputy National Chairperson and Deployed Leader to Mpumalanga Province; Members of the IFP NEC; Members of the IFP National Council; IFP Councillors here in Mpumalanga; and all IFP supporters here today.
I would like to thank all of you – especially our IFP Mpumalanga leadership and most importantly, our IFP supporters, for joining us today as we launch our Voter Registration Campaign and “Kungawe – It’s about you” campaign.
While the IFP does not run municipalities here, like we do in KwaZulu-Natal, I am proud to share that we have IFP members in 13 of Mpumalanga’s 17 municipalities and serving councillors in some of the municipalities in this province. Our support continues to grow.
This includes those living here in Kwa-Guqa, as well as those in the far corners of the province, where we have IFP members in Bushbuckridge, Dipaliseng, Mkhondo and the Dr Pixley ka Isaka Seme municipalities.
As the IFP leadership here today, we want to assure you: we have heard the cries of the people of Mpumalanga. Under the governance of the ruling party, this province – and this municipality – have not flourished. The ANC has shown itself to be a Party that puts its own interests first, and that leaves the people they promised to serve, to fend for themselves.
There are so many examples that expose the ANC’s true character.
Mpumalanga is home to just over five million South Africans, yet, according to the latest data from the 2022 Census, less than half of the households in the province – only 47% – have access to piped water in their homes. While some families might have water in their yard, or access to water on a community stand, 13% of the people in Mpumalanga have no access to piped water at all.
Even more shocking – almost four out of every 10 households in Mpumalanga are still forced to use pit toilets.
Not only is this a health and safety concern, but it is an insult to the dignity of our people.
It is almost 30 years since the ANC took over governing South Africa – and this glaring lack of even the most basic services is unacceptable. It not only deprives citizens of their rights, but a lack of services and infrastructure also limits access to opportunities.
Let me share another example.
This past week, there have been reports of retrenchments at Seriti’s Klipspruit Mine and Glencore’s iMpunzi Mine, which will impact hundreds of workers from eMalahleni – maybe even some of you here today. When questioned about the reason for these retrenchments, the National Union of Mineworkers blamed the “failure of Transnet to provide trains to Richards Bay Coal Terminal (RBCT) for the export of coal”.
In other words, because the ANC-led government is unable to provide a reliable rail network and infrastructure, hundreds of workers living in eMalahleni will soon be joining the 7.9 million other South Africans who, according to Statistics South Africa, were unemployed as of Quarter 1 of 2023.
It is clear that people are desperate for work – not just across South Africa, but in Mpumalanga.
Unfortunately, it seems that here in eMalahleni, jobs and opportunities are only reserved for the politically connected. The SA National Civic Organisation (Sanco) recently uncovered nepotism of the highest degree, with sons, daughters, and girlfriends of former and current eMalahleni ANC deployees being selected for training as traffic officers.
This training cost the eMalahleni municipality R2 million, and now that their irregular selection process and candidates have been exposed, the municipality has said it will not employ any of the 20 newly trained officers.
One must ask: how many homes could have received piped water or flush toilets if that R2 million was properly invested in the community? Further, these irregular selections on the part of the ANC-led municipality have deprived other, more worthy candidates, of their opportunity to become traffic officers, earn a living and support their families.
Then there is the 2021 forensic report, detailing an alleged R26 million that was lost to corruption in eMalahleni, and which was commissioned by the former COGTA MEC, Busi Shiba. It was leaked to the media almost two years ago but has never been tabled.
R26 million, gone.
That money could have been used to build homes, provide water infrastructure, or even build a community hall and develop facilities for the youth.
This is the story of the ANC.
Instead of the promised ‘better life for all’, money meant to provide for the people’s needs is lost to fruitless, wasteful, or irregular expenditure; lost to corruption. Those responsible are never held accountable and never have to face any consequences.
We see this on a national level with the Zondo Commission Report, which lies gathering dust, while hundreds of those implicated in state capture will, in all probability, never have their day in court.
The cost of state capture is estimated at over R250 billion.
To give you a better idea, this is more than the entire annual budget for the National Department of Social Development, which was allocated R216.1 billion for the 2023/24 financial year.
Millions of South Africans could have been lifted out of poverty, but instead, children go to bed hungry, it is unsafe to walk alone on the streets, young people cannot find work, and the gap between the rich and the poor continues to widen.
This is not the South Africa envisioned by the IFP’s founder, uMntwana KwaPhindangene.
This is not the legacy that the IFP is committed to honouring.
We are here today to tell you: all is not lost.
We are here today to tell you that the IFP has hope for a better future.
We are here today to tell you that the IFP wants to build a just, prosperous, and moral society, whose citizens engage with each other on the basis of ubuntu/botho.
We want to build this society for the people of eMalahleni, the people of Mpumalanga, and the people of South Africa.
The leaders you see before you are people of integrity, committed to living out Shenge’s lifelong example of servant leadership. He taught us to always put the people’s needs first. He taught us that we are the servants, not the masters, of the people.
Although a great tree has fallen, we take comfort in the knowledge that uMntwana KwaPhindangene planted the seeds of his legacy in fertile ground. As the leadership of the IFP, we were privileged to have over four decades to learn from Shenge.
It is now our responsibility to write the next chapter for the IFP; to nurture the fields, and to bring in the harvest. We are able, and we are willing, but we cannot do it alone.
In order to bring the change that is so desperately needed, we must expand our influence. To do this, we need the support of every person here today.
In the 2019 Provincial Elections, the IFP had the support of almost 6 000 voters in Mpumalanga, but, in a province with over five million people, if we want to make a real difference, we will need to massively grow our support.
Yes, we have IFP members in the Municipalities of Mkhondo, Lekwa, Msukaligwa, Pixley ka Isaka Seme, Chief Albert Luthuli, Dipaliseng, Steve Tshwete, Thembisile Hani, Mbombela, Govan Mbeki, Bushbuckridge, Victor Khanyi and here in eMalahleni.
Yes, we currently have four IFP Councillors in municipalities across the province.
Each IFP Councillor is an advocate for the hopes and dreams of their community – and we desperately need more people to stand up and speak out on behalf of the people.
This is why the IFP contests elections – not for power, or prestige, but so that we can grow our influence and improve the lives of those we are committed to serving.
With the 2024 Elections fast-approaching, now is the time to expand our footprint and reach more people in these 13 Municipalities. Now is the time to spread the IFP’s message of hope further, to the entire province of Mpumalanga, including the people of Nkomazi, Thaba Chewu, Dr JS Moroka and Emakhazeni Municipalities.
Let me remind you that the IFP is one of the very few parties that have experience in all three spheres of governance: at a local, provincial, and national level. We want to bring our expertise and track record of good governance to the people of Mpumalanga.
We want to partner with the people.
This is why the IFP has developed its “Kungawe – It’s About You” community engagement campaign. This initiative has several focus areas and was designed so that we, as the IFP, can strengthen connections with our community members, promote active citizenship, and empower individuals to actively participate in the democratic process.
The “Kungawe – It’s About You” campaign embodies the IFP’s commitment to inclusive governance and fostering a sense of belonging among all South Africans.
The IFP believes in meeting with the people we serve face-to-face, so that we can hear from them exactly what is needed. We know, from experience, that every community is unique.
This campaign will focus on community dialogue through providing platforms for open and constructive conversations, where community members can share their concerns, ideas, and aspirations for their neighbourhoods, towns, and cities.
In addition, the “Kungawe – It’s About You” campaign will focus on empowering the youth to actively participate in civic activities, with a special emphasis on mentoring and leadership development in constituencies of the IFP.
The IFP is a party that places a high value on the input of our young people. All of the leaders you see before you here today – myself included – were first members of the IFP’s Youth Brigade. It was here that we learnt the values of servant leadership, of self-help and self-reliance, and, under the guidance of uMntwana KwaPhindangene, to pursue ‘Education for Liberation’.
In the coming weeks, IFP leadership – including leaders from the IFP Youth Brigade and Women Brigade – will be travelling across South Africa to listen to the people, under the programme, “Kungawe – It’s About You”.
The “Kungawe – It’s About You” campaign has three main focus areas:
- Service Delivery;
- Education and Awareness; and
- Community Projects.
We will address community needs by collaborating with local authorities to improve service delivery, infrastructure, and basic amenities. We will be conducting workshops, seminars, and awareness campaigns on civic rights, responsibilities, and the importance of voting. We will also be initiating and supporting local projects that enhance the quality of life in our communities.
The IFP encourages all South Africans to join the movement and to participate in the “Kungawe – It’s About You” campaign.
Today, as we launch our Voter Registration Campaign, we would like to pay special attention to the importance of voting.
Firstly: thank you to those that have already registered to vote and are motivated and ready to go to the voting stations in 2024 and vote for the IFP!
We appreciate every single person that votes for us. Knowing that you have taken the decision to “Trust Us” with your vote and are trusting us to partner with you to build a better future, is a responsibility we do not take lightly.
Secondly: I want to take a moment to speak to all of those who are not yet registered to vote. I also want to talk to those people who might be registered to vote, but have lost hope, and feel that their vote means nothing, because they believe that nothing will change in their daily lives.
You might feel powerless to change your circumstances, but I want to tell you: the power to bring about change is in your hands.
As IFP leadership, we want to assure each of you here today: every vote counts. Your vote could be the difference between the IFP taking a ward or being able to gain enough support to put an extra Councillor in a municipality.
We do not despise small beginnings.
Sometimes, all it takes is one Councillor to tip the scales and to ensure that the community’s best interests remain at the forefront when decisions are taken about budget allocation, new infrastructure, or job opportunities.
Former US President, Theodore Roosevelt, famously said, and I quote, “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are,” close quote.
You might feel that you have very little to give. Do not believe this lie. You have something very precious: your right to vote. No one can take that away from you. I encourage you today: use that right to vote to make a difference in your community.
Yes, the Constitution guarantees each South Africans’ right to vote. However, with rights, come responsibilities. Each of us who are of voting age also has a responsibility to vote, and to be active participants in our hard-won democracy.
For me, and many other South Africans of my generation, who were deprived of the right to vote by the apartheid government, we will never forget that the right to vote is also a privilege and should never be taken for granted.
We will never forget that thousands of Black South Africans sacrificed their lives for our freedom, and so that we could realise our human rights – including the right to vote.
Young people – let me share my story with you: I was forced to wait until I was almost 30 years old before I had the opportunity to vote for the first time, in 1994.
On 27 April 1994, I joined millions of my fellow South Africans as we stood in long queues across the country. We were hopeful about the chance for a better tomorrow – a country where each and every person has equal political rights, and each and every person could use their vote to have a say in who governed our country.
Thanks to the tireless efforts of uMntwana KwaPhindangene, and hundreds of thousands of IFP supporters, in 1994, 2 058 294 South Africans voted for the IFP.
I say to you all: 2024 must be your 1994.
Let us go out in our thousands – in our hundreds of thousands – and vote for the promise of a just, prosperous, and moral society, whose citizens engage with each other on the basis of ubuntu/botho.
Let us honour Shenge’s legacy by voting for the IFP, so that we can replace the current government with leaders who are free from corruption, leaders that are committed to good governance and to service delivery.
Each person here today who is 18 years of age, or older, can vote.
Don’t waste this precious opportunity. I know that the young people of eMalahleni are hungry for change. Our deployed leader in Mpumalanga, Hon. Madlopha-Mthethwa, shared with me that the majority of new IFP members joining the Party here in Mpumalanga are youth.
We are encouraged to hear that when IFP leadership is out in the communities, going door-to-door to tell people about the IFP’s track record of good governance and the legacy of uMntwana KwaPhindangene, they are joined by many young people.
However, we are told that many of the youth are not registered to vote.
Hear our plea today: we need every single IFP member and supporter to make sure that they are registered to vote. If you aren’t registered to vote, you will not be allowed to cast your vote on Election Day.
This is why the Voter Registration Weekend on 18 and 19 November is so important. If you have moved, you must also make sure that you update your address details, as each South African is expected to vote where they live.
However: this is not your only opportunity to register to vote.
You can go in person to your local IEC office, or you can register to vote, or check and update your registration address online. The website is registertovote.elections.org.za. Let me repeat that: registertovote.elections.org.za.
As the IFP, we understand that data costs are high, and it is not always possible to access online services. This is why we have volunteers here today, to assist people to register to vote online, and to check if they are registered or not.
They will be here all day, so let your friends and family who are not here know and tell them to come out and get registered.
Time is running out – once President Ramaphosa proclaims the date for the 2024 elections, you will no longer be able to add your name to the Voters’ Roll.
Let me say it again: every vote counts.
Did you know that in the 2019 National and Provincial Elections, the ANC received just over 10 million votes, with 918 756 votes coming from Mpumalanga?
Did you also know that there are currently 27 million South Africans who are either not registered to vote, or who are dormant voters?
This means that if these unregistered and dormant voters show up on Election Day, we have a real chance to take the ANC below 50% + one they need to form a government.
So, we ask of you, if you are one of these 27 million people, please – do not sit at home on Election Day. If you feel that your vote doesn’t count – let me assure you, the IFP believes that every single vote counts.
As the IFP, we would like to thank you, the people of eMalahleni, the people of Mpumalanga, for your warm welcome.
We look forward to the day when IFP colours are seen in every municipality in Mpumalanga, and when there are IFP Councillors sitting on every Municipal Council; people who are committed to serving their communities and acting as a watchdog to prevent corruption and the mismanagement of resources meant to uplift the community.
We look forward to implementing the lessons we have learnt from uMntwana KwaPhindangene, and to rebuilding the municipalities that have fallen into disrepair under the ANC-led government.
We look forward to creating opportunities for our communities, and equipping them to become self-reliant, and able to provide for those in need.
The IFP is looking forward to 2024, but also to 2026 and 2029.
We are not a fly-by-night or a one-trick pony. We are invested in making Mpumalanga work. We have committed to deploying leadership and resources to grow the Party and to grow our influence, so that we can have influence in the rooms where decisions are being made.
This is why your vote is so important.
We, as the IFP, cannot do anything, or achieve anything, without the support of the people.
If you only remember three things I have shared today, remember these:
- Your vote counts and you can make a difference;
- You must be registered if you want to vote;
- You can trust the IFP to partner with you to build a better tomorrow.
Register to vote IFP today!
I thank you.