PRINCE MANGOSUTHU BUTHELEZI MP
PRESIDENT OF THE INKATHA FREEDOM PARTY
I am privileged to be invited by our Youth Brigade National Chairman, the Honourable Mr Mkhuleko Hlengwa to be your Guest Speaker on this historic day in our South African Calendar. For the blood of martyrs which was spilt here in Soweto on the 16th of June 1976 contributed to our struggle for liberation.
I had been a Speaker at the IFP Rally at the Jabulani Amphitheatre here in Soweto on the 21st March 1976. I had a premonition that something tragic was imminent. The title of my address on that day was ‘IN THIS APPROACHING HOUR OF CRISIS’.
When the ructions that took place on that day erupted, the Administrator of Soweto said that my speech had a hand in inciting the youth of Soweto to rebel. And yet we had warned Mr John Vorster that the imposition of Afrikaans on our children here and other urban areas would result in tragic consequences. And yet it was their intransigence, and not anyone else’s, which resulted in what happened on that day. If we could harness the energy in this place, we could change South Africa tomorrow. Today there is a wave of positive energy among our youth that doesn’t get the publicity it deserves. Our newspapers are full of stories about burning campuses and protesting students. We see images of young South Africans destroying artworks, setting buses alight and vandalising property. But what we don’t see are the millions of young people who are building and working and struggling every day to create a better future.
They don’t make the headlines, but they are the heroes of 2016. They are the ones we must celebrate as we mark the 40th anniversary of June 16th, 1976. I know these young people, because many of them find a home in the IFP. Our Party attracts youth with a vision, youth of good character, and youth who are driven by a positive message. These are the patriots, the entrepreneurs, the leaders and the ground-breakers. These are the people who can change our country.
Within every individual in this hall beats a heart that loves South Africa. You may have fears for the future and worries about money. You may be struggling to find work. And you may very well be angry with the people in power who abuse their positions for personal gain. But none of this stops you from loving our country. Because of this, you have fight within you. You are willing to take on giants and bring down unjust leaders.
That is good. It’s what South Africa needs. And the moment is coming when everything will be set in place for you to create change.
Within a democratic system, the most powerful players are not the fat cats and the political elite. Real power is in the hands of the electorate. For, through your vote, you can remove leaders from power. You can hire and fire every representative in all levels of government, and completely change government.
The most effective place to do that is in your municipality. Municipalities represent the level of governance closest to the people. Your councillor is the direct link between you and government. When you want to talk to government, you talk to your councillor. When you need something done in your community, your councillor has the responsibility to respond. Thus, if you want to influence the governance of your community, you need to get councillors into the municipality who are on your side.
The time to do that is at Local Government Elections. Once every five years voting stations open across South Africa and the power to choose councillors is placed in the hands of the people. The only way to be sure that a councillor will work for you and with you, is to choose a councillor from the party you trust.
This raises an immediate question, for in the present political climate it seems foolish to trust anyone. In the 22 years of our democracy, there has never been more distrust of political leaders than there is right now. Because the leaders in power have failed you. You have been tricked and ignored. You have been manipulated and taken for granted. You have heard every promise under the sun, and none of it has amounted to anything.
No wonder the youth are angry. No wonder the surveys show that even within the ruling party, half their members distrust their own President. These protests we are seeing across South Africa have much to do with service delivery, but they are also about the internal politics of the ruling party. This chaos is being sown by the failure of an elected leadership to lead with integrity.
So we return to the question of “Who can you trust?” If there was no one left to trust, we would abandon all hope. But there is still a voice of reason in the midst of the storm. There is still a leadership who has given you every reason to trust them, who has worked to earn your trust, and who values the partnership we have built with you over 41 years. You can safely put your trust in the IFP, because we have proven to be trustworthy.
We have never made promises that could not be kept. We have never manipulated you to get your vote. We talk straight and we talk truth, because you deserve a leadership of integrity. The IFP has a legacy of good governance that is well known. I encourage you to ask your parents and your grandparents about the IFP. They will tell you that our leadership has never walked under the cloud of a corruption scandal. Wherever we have governed, whether before democracy or since, at national level, provincial level and in municipalities, the IFP has run a clean administration.
We ensure that the municipal council is accessible, available and accountable. We believe in inclusivity and constant participation. We believe you have the right to be involved and influence policy, and your councillors have a responsibility to listen and be responsive. The IFP walks the talk.
We know that democracy is about getting governance closer to the people, to equip you to design solutions to the specific challenges you face.
What you face in Meadowlands is different to what people face in Sandton, or in Nkandla, or in Vuwani. Every community has its own set of needs and it makes no sense to force one policy onto every municipality. But that is the ideology of the ANC. Even when we were at the negotiating table pre-1994, hammering out the design of a democratic South Africa, the ANC wanted all the power to be held at the top, in the hands of a few. They wanted to be able to send a uniform policy down the conveyor belt from national level, into communities, without the communities themselves having any say.
The IFP changed that. We fought for strong local governance. We insisted on the creation of provinces. We sought to give municipalities the power to represent your voice, rather than speaking with the voice of their political masters. The IFP won a victory for democracy, and we are still fighting to see all municipalities work for their people, not for politics. Your councillor shouldn’t be more concerned with their pocket than they are about you, and they shouldn’t be preoccupied with internal politics when your needs are going unmet.
The IFP’s ideology is completely different. We believe in people before politics, and in putting service first. This is the kind of leadership Meadowlands needs. It’s the kind of leadership Soweto needs. Beyond that, it is leadership that can change Johannesburg and change South Africa. It can bring back the ideals of democracy that were laid in 1994, before corruption began eating away at government.
I therefore encourage you to use your power to bring change in the coming Local Government Elections. Use your vote on August 3rd to put IFP councillors into municipalities. With every vote for the IFP, clean municipal governance will be strengthened. With every vote for the IFP, corruption will take a knock. I want to see corruption utterly destroyed in every municipality across South Africa. Let’s bring integrity back into governance.
We must ask the obvious questions. Why should corrupt leaders live in mansions while running up huge hotel bills? Why should taxpayers fork out money for international trips that bring no benefit to you and I? Why should we fund failing state enterprises with millions of Rands, and allow massive bonuses to be paid to lazy civil servants? Why should we accept the fact that billions of Rands disappear from municipalities through mismanagement, wasteful expenditure, unauthorised expenditure, and simple corruption? What is worse than all that is money some municipalities receive to finance facilities for our people which goes back unspent.
We don’t need to accept these things. Our voice matters, and we have the right to speak up and be heard. And if government is not listening to us, we need to change the leadership that administers government. We need to empower a party whose ideology places people first.
This government is not listening. I have warned them time and time again that the decisions they are making are wrong. I stood in Parliament and warned them to take the economic downturn more seriously and to put measures in place to protect our economy. I warned them that rigid labour legislation was making it difficult for employers to hire and fire, which negatively affects the labour market.
I warned them not to close down training colleges for nurses and teachers. I warned them that a welfare state could not be sustained in the long-term and that our people need to be empowered with skills, knowledge and assistance to become self-reliant.
When government doesn’t listen, the people pay the price. How many of you are struggling to find work? That is not the way it should be in a country like ours. We have been the economic powerhouse of this continent for decades. There is no reason for us to fall behind other countries now, and see our economic growth stagnate. There is no reason, other than weak leadership.
The youth of 1976 faced a government that would not listen. The difference then is that there were no tools to make government responsive.
The system of governance was oppressive and exclusionary. There was no social contract bestowing rights and responsibilities. There was no Constitution that guaranteed justice, equality and participation. Thus the youth took to the streets in protest.
In that state of volatility in this country it was sad that one of our political movements came up with the slogan ‘LIBERATION NOW, EDUCATION LATER’ They encouraged young people to abandon their education and to burn down our schools because they were inferior to those of whites. I responded at the time with the slogan ‘EDUCATION FOR LIBERATION’ and encouraged young people to equip themselves with education. The learning stopped completely here in Soweto. Dr Ntatho Motlana, the chairman of the group of ten and Mr Percy Qoboza, the Editor of ‘The World’ which the Apartheid Regime banned approached me to get spaces in one of our schools.
This was because I was then Chief Minister of KwaZulu and our schools were operating. I arranged for their children to be admitted at Dlangezwa High School near the University of Zululand. It is tragic to see today that this culture of destroying schools and our other facilities has emerged on such a great scale. The burning down of more than 20 schools in Vuwani is a tragedy of great magnitude. And the general destruction of our own facilities such as libraries and municipal offices is the legacy of the gospel of some in 1976, who encouraged that the townships should be made ungovernable. There is nothing which degrades us as a Nation in the eyes of the international community than this kind of vandalism. We need our voice heard in a different manner than this vandalism and violence.
Today, we live under a different system. Democracy has secured the rights and the tools we need to make government listen. There is no clearer way to send a message to government than through the ballot box. This generation has a unique opportunity to change the future of South Africa. You have the power to shape your own destiny, by changing the path we are on as a nation.
I therefore urge you to learn the lesson of 1976; the lesson of our past. When we fight, we cannot simply destroy. We need to fight with one hand, and build with the other. If we just tear down the things that we dislike, without building something better, we will be left with nothing but ashes. This is the choice before you, to build or to destroy. The IFP is a party of builders. We have fire in our bellies, but we understand that the future will be built with our own hands.
This is the home of South Africa’s youth. On August 3rd, vote for the party that is building your future. Vote for a leadership you trust. VOTE IFP!