Dear friends and fellow South Africans,
In her book, “People’s War”, Dr Anthea Jeffery describes how, in the seventies, the ANC found itself with two serious rivals; the Black Consciousness Movement and Inkatha. By 1979, she writes, Inkatha was “the largest black political movement in the history of South Africa, with a membership three times larger than that of the ANC at the height of the latter’s popularity.” Thus, writes Jeffery, “Far from being able to play a vanguard role in the liberation struggle, as it had always claimed to do, the ANC had largely been eclipsed by new internal organisations with significantly more authority to speak and act on behalf of the oppressed.”
Dr Mamphela Ramphele was one of the founders of the Black Consciousness Movement, and I founded Inkatha, which is now the national opposition party, the IFP. So the adage that history repeats itself comes to mind.
When Dr Ramphele announced on Monday that she is launching a new political platform, “Agang”, I expected to see the ANC scramble. And they did.
The ANC’s absurd response was that Dr Ramphele is “pumping foreign funds into South Africa” that might “undermine further democratisation and transformation in our country”, as though foreign investment were some sinister force against democracy. They forget that they were once a mission-in-exile, and ignore the fact that no party in South Africa today has greater foreign funding than the ANC.
COSATU then went straight to character assassination, somehow reworking Dr Ramphele’s acclaimed leadership in the World Bank and Gold Fields into Dr Ramphele controlling “a big, ruthless exploitative” and “brutal” employer, who “wants workers to be weak and leaderless”.
The response from the ruling party is not surprising, for they sense the threat in this new political platform. The IFP, however, has welcomed Dr Ramphele’s announcement, believing that it will boost the ranks of the opposition and strengthen our shared fight to usher in a second Republic, under a new leadership of integrity and competence.
Last week’s State of the Nation address has left us in no doubt that the time has come to remove from power a leadership not fit to govern.
The time has come to close the door on this first Republic under the ANC, and to close it firmly on all the inefficiencies, deficiencies and problems the ANC has brought with it. This is no longer the party of the 1912 visionaries; the party of Dr Pixley ka Isaka Seme, Inkosi Albert Luthuli and Nelson Mandela. This ANC is corrupt. It is failing South Africa.
But will Agang supply the answer to the leadership crisis? No. Just as the Black Consciousness Movement was one part of a composite strategy against apartheid, so Agang can become one part of a composite strategy against ANC rule. In that way, the birth of Agang is timeous, for Mandela himself said, “If the ANC does to you what apartheid did; do to the ANC what you did to apartheid.”
Dr Ramphele has accurately diagnosed the problems facing our country.
But so too did each party in the opposition during the parliamentary debate this week. What we need now are fresh ideas and solutions, and we hope to see those coming out of Agang. This cannot be simply another platform for a national debate. The debate is already well established.
I was interested to hear many of Dr Ramphele’s views converging with those expressed by the IFP over 37 years. The need, for instance, for civic education in our schools to prepare our children to become competent, responsible and involved citizens, is an initiative Inkatha launched in schools in KwaZulu even before democracy. For the last 19 years, we have been advising the ruling Party to follow the excellent example we set.
The IFP has also publically called for mandatory skills training for civil servants. The R102 billion spent on consultants over just 3 years points to a civil service that has no idea how to do its job.
Apparently no progress has been made over 19 years in learning how to govern effectively, efficiently or at all.
The IFP has condemned cadre deployment, and championed the fight against corruption that is crippling our country. Opposition parties in Parliament have united in a Coalition Against Corruption, signifying how high this issue is on our nation’s agenda, despite very little being done by the ANC-led Government to address corruption.
The issue of electoral reform is truly an IFP issue. We therefore welcome Dr Ramphele’s efforts to launch a signature campaign to force attention to this issue. Under my leadership as the Minister of Home Affairs, the van Zyl Slabbert Commission investigated our electoral system and recommended reform in order to make representatives directly accountable to the people who elect them. The ANC squashed that recommendation. But its time has now come.
The IFP therefore welcomes Agang to the political arena. We encourage Dr Ramphele to work in harmony with the opposition, to strengthen our efforts as we pursue a new Republic.
Yours in the service of our nation,
Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP