The University Of Cape Town Graduate School Of Business
“What The Times Demand”
Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP
President Of The Inkatha Freedom Party
AJ Human Hall, Durban High School: 21 July 2016
I must thank Mr Cedric Parker and UCT’s Graduate School of Business for hosting this series of dialogues which enable you to interact directly with the leaders of political parties as we approach the 2016 Local Government Elections. The IFP has been campaigning for several months and we face an intensive few days as August 3rd draws nearer. I have visited communities across KwaZulu Natal, in the Western Cape, Gauteng and Mpumalanga. Tomorrow I will fly to Limpopo, before a week of door-to-door visits in KwaZulu Natal.
Wherever I go, whether it is to the rural community of Daggakraal or the affluent suburb of Constantia, I hear the same message from diverse people. Who do we trust when prominent leaders have let us down? The Institute for Justice and Reconciliation recently released results of a nationwide survey that showed levels of distrust at an all-time high in our country. Never, since 1994, has there been such a chasm between government and the people, created by an ongoing series of failures, scandals and criminal allegations against senior leaders.
I am hard-pressed to provide an answer when people speak to me about corruption in Government. I am not one to turn a blind eye or gloss over what is happening. Indeed, I was one of the first to warn that corruption had gained a foothold in Government. Years ago, ethical leaders had the courage to speak about corruption, acknowledging the extent of it. I remember President Mandela telling international journalists, (and I quote): “Little did we suspect that our own people, when they got a chance, would be as corrupt as the apartheid regime. That is one of the things that has really hurt us.”
That kind of honesty stands in sharp contrast to what we experience today. Right now we have a sitting President that is yet to go to court on 783 charges of fraud and corruption. For two years the President failed to provide leadership as questions were volleyed back and forth over the security upgrades at his home in Nkandla. Hundreds of hours were spent in investigations, committee meetings, parliamentary sittings and oversight visits, trying to get to the bottom of this saga. The financial cost of all this is yet to be calculated, but the cost to our national psyche, to respect for leadership, and to the integrity of government, is obvious.
Thus, when the President responded to the Constitutional Court’s declaration that he had acted in violation of the Constitution, I like millions of South Africans expected an apology. Millions in fact expected the President to step down, for presidents have been removed for far less in other countries. But all we got was a half-hearted apology for any confusion that may have been caused. Hot on the heels of this debacle came the revelations of state capture by the Gupta family. Again the silence from our Head of State was deafening.
Then the crisis at the SABC exploded, with one journalist after the next exposing the degree to which the news is censored to protect the image of the ruling party. The resignation of Mr Jimi Matthews, and his reasons for leaving, left no doubt that the state broadcaster has indeed become a publicity tool for the ANC. Among the news stories the SABC was instructed not to show, were violent protests: the kind of protests that have sprung up in every part of our country.
Just two weeks ago Durban CBD was shut down by protestors who burned tyres and vandalised property in demonstration against the ANC’s candidates’ lists for Local Government Elections. Factories were torched in Isithebe Industrial Park, leaving thousands without work. In Tshwane, shops were looted and cars set alight. On university campuses, artworks have been destroyed and buildings torched, while statues are vandalised. In Vuwani, 24 schools were burned to the ground, leaving learners with nowhere to go. Clinics have been burned, councillors’ homes attacked, and even a fire station has been set alight.
The damage to infrastructure runs into the billions. But this is not just about money. How do you recoup the loss to ordinary people? Many of the business owners whose shops and factories were destroyed are not in a position to start again. Their livelihoods have been taken. Those who lost their jobs are now struggling to put food on the table. Families and entire communities are suffering. Students whose lectures were interrupted and whose exams were postponed have had their futures postponed, and many learners’ futures have been jeopardised as schools are rebuilt.
All these concerns are real and immediate. But so too is the threat to our national psyche. I remember how difficult it was during apartheid to oppose the injunction from the ANC’s mission-in-exile to make South Africa ungovernable. When they called on our youth to abandon their classrooms, burn down their schools and protest in the streets, I understood that this was not an isolated moment in the timeline of our struggle. It would have repercussions down the line, because it gave birth to a culture of entitlement, protest and destruction. That culture would not be buried with apartheid. It would remain in the collective memory as the right reaction to anger, frustration and hardship.
Knowing this, I led Inkatha to oppose the call of destruction. We juxtaposed the ANC’s call for “Liberation Now, Education Later” with the slogan “Education FOR Liberation”. We prepared an oppressed generation to take the reins of a liberated country. We kept learners in school and students at university, training them to become the administrators, journalists, business leaders and professionals of the future. Today, many people in influential positions can look back with gratitude on the education they received in the schools and tertiary institutions of KwaZulu. Of course, not many speak about this, because admitting gratitude to Inkatha is somehow politically incorrect.
The winds of change are blowing through the ANC. More and more often senior leaders are acknowledging the IFP in public, thanking us for the contribution we have made to democracy. In Parliament, I have been singled out several times as a voice of reason, when I try to intervene and restore decorum. There is a degree of respect shown to the IFP that has never been shown before. But that does not mean that reconciliation is complete between our two parties. The ANC is fractured like never before, and there are definite camps, some of which believe in reconciliation and some of which don’t.
The extent to which camps are tearing the ruling party apart is evident in the increase of intra-party political assassinations. Protests are no longer about service delivery alone, but about the way the ANC is ignoring the people. Anger over candidates’ lists reveals that candidates are not being chosen by the people, but are being imposed on them. The difficulty is that the ANC uses positions as rewards and as payback for favours owed. The policy of cadre deployment has replaced the policy of finding the right people for the job.
The result, unfortunately, is that positions are often filled by people who lack the requisite skills and experience to do their job. There is also a poor filter protecting against a lack of integrity. One need only read the reports of the Auditor General to know that officials at every level of government are failing to perform. In municipalities, people in key position in finance and leadership often fail the test of basic competency. Thus financial mismanagement ensues, with wasteful expenditure, tender fraud, supply chain irregularities and outright theft.
Our municipalities are in a precarious position. Tragically, this translates into hardship for South Africans. When budgets are mismanaged and funds reallocated, necessary services are interrupted or withheld. There are people living in shacks, with no running water, no electricity and a communal pit toilet. This is not anecdotal. Undoubtedly Government has provided electricity to many homes, although electricity is now so expensive that most can’t afford it. But we can’t look at the statistics and say, yes, enough is being done. We need to look at the day to day realities of ordinary people.
I have sat in one-room shacks that provide no protection either from criminals or bad weather, speaking to infirm grandmothers who have been on the housing waiting list for 20 years. They weep as they tell me that SASSA deducts money from their social grant every month and no one will tell them why. They tell me about their grandchild, who is constantly ill, and about the many visits to the clinic where they sit for hours only to be told to come back again when a different doctor is available.
People are living in heart-wrenching conditions of hardship and stress. I look at this, and I look at our leaders, and I wonder where it all went so terribly wrong.
Clearly it began with corruption, and the lack of a leadership with the integrity to stop it. I often quote the saying that a fish rots from the head. When senior leaders get away with immoral, unethical and irresponsible behaviour, the message filters down to all levels that the ethical standard has been set very low. The door is opened to self-serving, dishonest and corrupt officials. Positions in government are no longer about serving, but about status and money. Patriotism has flown, and everything is about me, me, me and mine.
Money is a central factor, largely perhaps because life has become exorbitantly expensive. South Africa is in an economic meltdown. Regardless of how many jobs are promised by the ruling party, unemployment continues to rise. We have one of the highest levels of unemployment anywhere in the world. Millions of South Africans rely completely on a social grant, but realistically it is not enough to sustain a family. Moreover, the welfare system is pushing our economy to the brink of collapse, because it is pure maths that you can’t spend more than you make. Economic growth is all but stagnant, which means there is no prospect of things improving in the immediate future. Life is going to get harder and more expensive.
South Africa’s economic meltdown is undoubtedly part of the global economic recession. But deep uncertainty has also been created by the economic policy of the ruling party, which remains unclear. I grew up in the ANC Youth League and I remember how we all subscribed to the idea of nationalisation. Mr Mandela himself only became a free market convert in 1994. I was serving in the Cabinet of President Mbeki when the first promising economic policy emerged. I stood in Parliament and welcomed GEAR, the Growth, Employment and Redistribution plan, likening this about-turn to Saul’s Damascene experience.
But it wasn’t long before the ANC’s tripartite partners, COSATU and the SACP were seen on our TV screens chanting “Asifuni GEAR!”, “We don’t want GEAR”. And GEAR was immediately abandoned. Now the same fate threatens the National Development Plan. While the NDP was warmly welcomed across the board, already the tripartite partners are murmuring their dissent. Reliant on their votes, the ruling party is reluctant to oppose them.
I was also in Cabinet when President Mbeki tasked his Deputy, then Mr Jacob Zuma, with addressing the rigidity of our labour laws and spearheading moral regeneration. The result is history.
We have been made to understand that the ruling party seeks a developmental state. But with 6 million South Africans dependent on a social grant we are, unavoidably, a welfare state. The President has admitted that this can’t be sustained. Yet there is no plan to circumvent economic collapse.
Then there is the constant reference to a National Democratic Revolution, without unpacking what exactly that means. There is now another political party influencing young people to return to the route of nationalisation, demanding that South Africa nationalise our mines. Mr Malema expresses great admiration for President Mugabe. Tragically, young South Africans are following Mr Malema as though he were the Pied Piper of Hamlin. By the time they realise that they are on a wild goose chase, it will be too late.
You may recall how Mr Malema used to hurl insults at Mrs Helen Suzman and myself. After he left ANC, however, he came to apologise to me, giving the impression that he had previously acted on the instruction of senior leaders in the ANC. I used that opportunity to try to talk sense into him about nationalisation.
I explained that, during our liberation struggle, I had visited President Julius Nyerere, whom we considered the guru of African Socialism, Ujamaa. But already then he was having second thoughts and he gave me a copy of his book, “Ten Years After Arusha”. Later, when President Nyerere paid a state visit to South Africa, he visited me in my office as Minister of Home Affairs and he said to me, “You know, in 1980 when Mr Mugabe became Prime Minister I told him, in reference to the economy of Zimbabwe, ‘You have inherited a jewel. Do not do what I did in Tanzania; do not destroy it.’”
I recounted all this to Mr Malema, even though I knew he would not take it to heart.
Our country now has an economic growth rate of less than 1% and we don’t know how long we are going to walk this dark tunnel. The dishonesty in the present election campaign is therefore appalling. It is blatantly obvious that the ruling party will not be able to deliver the jobs is keeps promising.
So what do these times demand of us as citizens?
Undoubtedly, they demand a response. We have as much responsibility to protect the most vulnerable child in Ntabankulu as we do to protect our own family. But how do we do that? The only tool available to us to effect fundamental change, is our vote. Through our votes we can restore a leadership of integrity to South Africa and turn the tide on corruption. Ideally this should be done at national level, but realistically that degree of change is unlikely for some time to come, not merely because a national election is three years away, but because democracy has not yet reached that level of maturity in South Africa.
Thus we need to make the change at a lower level of government, at the level where government interacts directly with citizens. It is possible to send change from the ground up. Indeed, that is the way revolutions start. What we need to do however, is arrest the present trajectory of revolution which sees anger, violence and destruction at its core, and replace it with a revolution of goodwill that champions integrity, good governance and a strong democracy.
This can only be achieved through the ballot box. On August 3rd, when South Africans vote in the 2016 Local Government Elections, an opportunity will open to restore integrity to municipal governance. It will be a powerful start to a positive revolution, and it is what the times demand.
I want to leave you with just one example of how an IFP leadership can influence national government in the interests of the people. Right now at the Durban ICC more than 20 000 delegates from 180 countries are participating in the 21st International Aids Conference. The success of South Africa’s Government in reducing mother-to-child transmission of HIV/Aids will certainly be discussed. This is one of the success stories Government likes to point to when they say, “We have a good story to tell.”
But the whole story often goes untold, because it was the IFP’s intervention that forced Government to save lives. Under the IFP’s leadership in KwaZulu Natal, Premier LPHM Mtshali instructed that anti-retrovirals be rolled out to all clinics across the province. The evidence showed that just one dose given to a mother before she gives birth, and one dose to her new-born, significantly reduces the risk of mother-to-child transmission of HIV/Aids. Thousands of lives were saved.
The Treatment Action Campaign then took national government to the Constitutional Court in an attempt to get them to fulfil their constitutional obligation to protect the right to life. The ANC’s MEC for Health averred before the Court that it was logistically impossible to roll out anti-retrovirals. As much as they may want to, it could not be done. The Court has no leeway to demand the impossible, thus the TAC’s case was likely to be dismissed.
However, the IFP’s Premier intervened as a friend of the court, providing evidence that it was not merely possible to roll out anti-retrovirals, but that it was already being done, with great success, throughout KwaZulu Natal. Based on our intervention, the Court was able to instruct national government to follow suit.
Now, years later, the ANC will only talk about how it has saved lives. It doesn’t talk about the pressure we applied or how the influence of an IFP leadership changed national policy. But the fact is, we can do it. We have done it. And we can do it again.
Restoring a leadership of integrity at local level will have a deep impact on the way things are done throughout Government. The IFP is ready to lead by example again, and to hold our opponents accountable for abusing the trust that was placed in them.
There is a need to strengthen multi-party democracy in South Africa. I have been asked why smaller parties are losing support, and the answer is simple. Money is the milk of politics. The ruling party and the official opposition have ample resources with which to campaign. The ruling party even uses state resources, despite this unethical practice being condemned by the IEC and the national Treasury. But smaller parties struggle to stay afloat. There is great reluctance from the private sector to support political parties, as though there were some shame in doing so. But if multi-party democracy falters, we will all feel the effects.
On the flip-side, a stronger IFP simply means better governance. We have proved this time and again.
Many of you may be too young to remember the kind of leadership the IFP provided before democracy. We administered the erstwhile KwaZulu Government for 19 years and never once was a single allegation of corruption ever levelled against my administration. After 1994, we were part of the Government of National Unity, and we administered KwaZulu Natal for ten years. We have also been at the helm in many municipalities. So our leadership has been tried and tested. There is a large body of evidence to back my claim that the IFP is a leadership of integrity.
We have built universities, established industrial parks, built hospitals and clinics, built houses and classrooms, equipped people with skills, assisted entrepreneurs with seed capital, ensured food security, and created jobs. The IFP knows how to govern well, and we do it without a hint of corruption. That is the kind of leadership South Africa needs.
I appreciate your coming here tonight. It tells me that you are interested in making a difference for our country. You are the thinkers and the doers; the people who will rescue South Africa. As the floor is opened to questions, I hope you won’t mind me asking a question of my own.
When students protested on the steps of Parliament, I couldn’t help but wonder what former students felt. As alumni of the University of Cape Town, and business leaders in KwaZulu Natal, I am sure you have strong opinions on the FeesMustFall campaign and the destruction of property at universities. This whole situation needs an answer, but that answer can’t come from Government or from university management. It needs to come from people like you, who have gone through the system and are now on the other side. I value your advice, both to students and to people like me who are trying to lead South Africa towards freedom.
I welcome your questions, and your advice.
I thank you.