Dear friends and fellow South Africans,
On the 8th of January 2012, President Jacob Zuma took the podium in Mangaung at the official start of the ANC's year-long centenary celebrations, and announced that the ANC "is a disciplined force, with a bias towards the poor". He then declared, against all the evidence, that, "We have succeeded in addressing the many challenges facing South Africa", that "The first seventeen years of freedom have been successful," and that "The ANC has laid a sound foundation for socio-economic development." Still, he insisted, "The ANC always humbles itself, it is not arrogant."
After a year of continual centennial events, the ANC's humility may finally be making an appearance. Yesterday, a year after President Zuma's speech, the Secretary-General of the ANC, Mr Gwede Mantashe, reportedly admitted that "Greed is eating the ANC to death," and some in the ANC "have become like mice in a cheese factory". On the same day, CNN aired an interview with the new Deputy President of the ANC, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa, who freely admitted to weaknesses in the ANC, saying, "We need to re-establish the moral compass of our organisation."
It seems the propaganda machine was only programmed to function for a year.
In October 2009 Professor Kader Asmal warned that the ANC had "lost the moral compass". The IFP was quick to point out that it was not in fact lost, but was safely stored in my own pocket.
Professor Asmal was neither the first nor the only public figure to raise the alarm over the ANC's lost moral compass. Indeed, it was I who first levelled that accusation against our country's ruling party more than a decade ago.
The IFP called again and again for a campaign of moral regeneration in our country, and the ANC responded with the launch of the Moral Regeneration Movement, which was placed under the leadership of then Deputy President Jacob Zuma.
The failure of that initiative will forever stand as proof that choosing the right person for the job is critically important.
Knowing this to be true, I am excited about the year ahead for the IFP. While the ANC was back in Mangaung last month re-electing Mr Jacob Zuma with much fanfare and just as much dispute, the IFP held a very successful conference in Ulundi.
Following on several outstanding by-election victories, including one in Nkandla, the representatives of the rank and file of the IFP gathered in Ulundi on the 14th, 15th and 16th of December and considered the way forward for the Party and South Africa. We held robust debate into the early hours of the morning and opened the podium for anyone to speak. Many did, and many more expressed their opinion through their vote in support of a proposed blueprint for the IFP's inevitable leadership transition.
With unanimous support, the IFP adopted a constitutional amendment to create the position of Deputy President. Thereafter, a new executive leadership was elected. This is the team with which I will work to ensure that our Party moves smoothly from my time of leadership into a new era of leadership, in which the IFP will continue to provide its known and trusted integrity, wisdom and selfless service.
The IFP will not die out with Mangosuthu Buthelezi, as many of my enemies have hoped. We have many leaders in our Party, and many members, who form the backbone of the IFP. They will continue beyond my time and the IFP will stay strong. I look forward now with enthusiasm to the 2014 national elections, for the IFP is about to surprise the analysts and doomsayers.
Conference asked me to continue to lead, as the National Council did before, and the National Executive of the Women's Brigade, Youth Brigade and SADESMO. I accepted the will of the people I serve, as I always do. But there is an understanding that I will not necessarily serve the full term to which I have been elected, but only until I have done what I have been asked to do in overseeing our leadership transition. My right to retire from this long road of politics has been respected.
I therefore look forward to working with our new Deputy President, Inkosi Elphus Mzamo Buthelezi, who carries the responsibility of assisting and actively supporting me in the execution of my functions.
Inkosi Buthelezi is not, as some newspapers so ignorantly claimed, my brother or my cousin. The Buthelezi Clan is large and the IFP's new Deputy President is a respected traditional leader from within that Clan. He grew up within the IFP, is part of the IFP Youth Brigade, and has worked for years to strengthen and unite our Party. He was elected based on his popularity, the strength of his leadership and his vision for the IFP's future. He calls himself, foremost, a servant of the people.
The position of National Chairperson has been filled by the very competent Leader of the Official Opposition in KwaZuu Natal, the Hon.Mr Blessed Gwala MPL. His name will be familiar from the many statements he has made in the KwaZulu Natal Legislature on issues affecting the socio-economic welfare of our country. Mr Gwala has proven his leadership skills and will now continue to torment the ruling Party from his new position.
The new Deputy National Chairperson is the Hon. Mr Albert Mncwango MP who served our Party for many years as National Organiser. He is no stranger to pressure, challenges and competing demands. He is a seasoned leader and a Member of Parliament.
Ms Sibongile Nkomo, a leader of the IFP Women's Brigade, was elected as Secretary-General. I am pleased to see a woman of her stature and ability serving on the National Executive Committee of the IFP. She follows in the footsteps of many excellent female leaders who have proven than women are indeed the backbone of our Party.
The Hon. Professor CT Msimang MP retained his position as Deputy Secretary-General, a tribute to the sterling work he has done in this position.
With this team, I look forward to all that 2013 holds. There will no doubt be challenges ahead for South Africa, considering the ruling Party's determined stride down the wrong paths. But the IFP is ready to provide the moral compass the ANC lost many, many years ago. We are ready as the voice of reason, the voice of integrity and the genuine voice of an oppressed, suffering and downtrodden people.
Contrary to what the President declared a year ago, the ANC has not yet succeeded in addressing the many challenges in South Africa. But with the IFP's courage to speak truth to power, and our increasing support from the voters, there is hope that those challenges may yet be overcome.
Watch this space, because this Party is going to make new headlines in 2013.
Yours in the service of our nation,
Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP