The New Age
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Recently the IFP hosted a rally to thank voters for their support during the 2011 Local Government Election. The rally was a resounding success and well attended. It was proof that the IFP is not only alive and well, but that the IFP is ready for the challenges ahead, and confident of a stronger showing in 2014.
While other media institutions reflected the event as such, the New Age ignored it completely, launching instead a scathing and unwarranted attack on the IFP.
In his write-up, “IFP: A slow and painful death” (New Age: 26 July 2011) Chris Makhaye makes a calculated mistake when he says that the IFP was “once the third largest Party”. In his speech at the rally, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi said, “Cope was replaced as the third largest political party by the IFP, as we regained our position as number three nationally according to election results”. Had Mr Makhaye taken the time to read the speech or even studied the election results he would have known this fact.
While it is true that the IFP recently let go of some of its vehicles that were no longer needed, and that there are plans afoot to retrench some staff members, these austerity measures are not unique to IFP. Many organizations from time to time feel the need to restructure and regroup. The ANC and the DA, for example, have also gone through similar processes.
Zakhele Ndlovu, a political analyst from UKZN who is incorrigible in his negative views on the IFP, says, “What Buthelezi does not want to acknowledge is that you cannot keep pace with younger leaders. He was a political player in the 70s, but he is a fading political player today.” What utter nonsense. As a young member of the IFP, I would be lying if I said that I could keep up with Prince Buthelezi’s schedule. He works harder, smarter and better than any of us, regardless of our age. During the 2011 Local Government Election, he often had very little sleep as he prepared for rallies, meetings and interviews. Many young leaders today are no match for Prince Buthelezi.
The IFP leader is also no less important than he was in the 70s. The many invitations to address conferences and universities, and the multitude of international governments, who request him on a regular basis to share his political insight and wisdom, belie Ndlovu’s baseless statements.
Protas Madlala in turn feels “the IFP has lost its vision”. Our vision has remained the same – we haven’t lost it. We were founded in 1975 on the ANC’s original principles of unity, non-violence and non-racialism. Now that the ANC has become the vanguard of pork-belly politics, radicalism, racism and tenderpreneurship, we will remain to champion the principles propounded by the founding fathers of our struggle. We have remained closer to these values than any other organization.
Based on the electoral result, our role of opposition is bound to increase. Indeed, the best is yet to come as far as showing the IFP’s capacity to provide moral leadership in a country that has lost its moral compass. We will continue to champion principled leadership, for the sake of this country and its future.
Makhaye’s write-up was not newsworthy. It was not a balanced report on the events that transpired. It was an unscrupulous attack on a Party not aligned to the New Age’s funders. It portrays nothing less than a deep hatred for the IFP and makes a mockery of objective and responsible journalism. I am yet to see the New Age produce a reasonable report on the IFP. I can only live in hope that it will one day materialize.
Liezl van der Merwe
Press Liaison Officer to Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP