Press Conference of the IFP To Welcome New and Returning Members

Statement by
Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP
President of the Inkatha Freedom Party

Durban

Thank you to members of the media who accepted our invitation to join the IFP this afternoon, as we celebrate the homecoming of former members of the IFP. Mr Qambushilo Mkhize, Mr Qalokunye Mavundla, Mr Lawayi Hlengwa, Ms Nokubonga Mgozi and Mr Nhlakanipho Hlongwane all know our Party well. They spent years in the IFP before moving away to test the waters in a breakaway party. Today, they are returning home, having experienced political life outside of the IFP. Their decision to return speaks volumes.

But Mr Mkhize, Ms Mgozi, Mr Mavundla, Mr Hlengwa and Mr Hlongwane do not come alone. These are active political leaders whose words and actions influence those around them. Having served in leadership positions in the NFP, including Vice Chairperson of the NFP’s eThekwini Constituency, they have had opportunity to discuss their vision, their concerns and their experiences with many NFP members.

It is not surprising that their decision to come home to the IFP has sparked the decision of other politically active men and women to return to the IFP and to make the IFP their political home. I want to welcome every single person taking IFP membership today. I want you to know that you are in good company, for thousands of former members have come home before you and thousands more will follow.

I also want you to know that the IFP welcomes you.

We understand the decisions you made in the past. Our opponents made many promises, even before they were officially born. It pains me to think how some among our members were misled into believing that people serving in the IFP, on the IFP’s mandate, under the IFP’s guidance and through the IFP’s vision, could suddenly offer more than the IFP. But that was a carefully planned political manoeuvre.

Of course, we all know that every manoeuvre carries risks as well as benefits, and it seems our opponents miscalculated their risk analysis. To my mind, the greatest risk they took was sowing indiscipline and division in a bid to destabilise the party they were part of.

I cannot help but remember the opening salvo of that damaging chapter, when youth from our own Party were sent to protest against elected leaders, right outside a Party meeting, in full view of the media.

Just this week we saw history repeat itself, with members of the NFP protesting outside the NFP’s Head Office while a press conference was under way, calling for the resignation of their Provincial Chairperson and his Deputy.

I harbour no bitterness towards the NFP and I feel compassion for their leader, who took ill towards the end of last year. But I recognise that the problems in the NFP are self-created. When you teach people to put their own interests ahead of the interests of the party and the people the party serves, you cannot be surprised when they do just that.

The ruling party has had this lesson time and again. Before democracy, they encouraged lawlessness, entitlement and ungovernability. Now, under democracy, they struggle with these very things. A few years ago they encouraged their youth leader to defame, ridicule and insult other leaders. Now they are at the receiving end of what they created.

There is much to be said for the IFP’s belief in maintaining moral integrity.

When those who were causing division left the IFP several years ago; our Party regrouped and unity was quickly restored. We set in place a roadmap for the way forward and strengthened our voice by speaking in unison. In last year’s elections, the IFP was able to commit ourselves to certain actions that we would perform on the mandate of voters. The electorate called us back with the same position in Parliament, and we have been working hard to fulfil our commitments.

The IFP can focus on these things because we are a party made up of disciplined, committed, service-oriented and passionate people of goodwill. The character of our Party, and our Constitution, attract likeminded individuals, while self-seeking political opportunists see not space or foothold, and tend to go elsewhere.

Those who are joining the IFP today are joining a team different to the IFP of five years ago. We retain the same values, vision and character. But we are uncompromising on the commitment we expect from those who seek to carry the IFP name. We are determined to maintain our unity, which has been the basis for our growth since the last Local Government Elections.

The IFP enters the contest for next year’s elections much stronger than we were before. We are focussed and driven, and intent on delivering a better local government leadership to all South Africans who feel disappointed, disillusioned and frustrated with what our opponents have had to offer.

Mr Qambushilo Mkhize, Ms Nokubonga Mgozi, Mr Qalokunye Mavundla, Mr Lawayi Hlengwa , Mr Nhlakanipho Hlongwane and every new member joining us today has a part to play in preparing for change in 2016. Their return to the IFP is a foretaste of what is to come, for in 2016 the IFP will be returning to many places where we once served.

We have 40 years of experience under the belt. We know how this works. Breakaway parties come and go, but the core of integrity, patriotism and selfless service that is the IFP remains and stands strong.

Today, we are strengthened again by the addition of people willing to link their arms in ours and join the march forward. It is my pleasure to say, “Welcome to the IFP”.

IFP Media, Parliament