Mangosuthu Buthelezi's Online Letter
Dear friends and fellow South Africans,
As 2011 draws to a close, we look back on a tumultuous year. Where 2010 was characterized by the FIFA Soccer World Cup, 2011 was the year of COP17. Future generations may well remember this as the pivotal moment in history before climate change became irreversible. I pray that will not be the case.
Throughout this year, we saw evidence of climate change in extreme weather events across the world. The drought in Somalia placed over 11 million people in crisis as famine was declared. Heavy rains, landslides and flooding killed some 900 people in Brazil and over 650 in Thailand. Hurricane Irene was followed by Tropical Storm Lee, and extreme weather phenomena cost the United States $1 billion in losses.
There is not a place in the world that is unaffected by climate change. But the weather was not the only unstable force shaking our foundations in 2011.
The global financial crisis overshadowed everything else. In the face of chronic and staggering debt, the creditworthiness of the United States was downgraded in 2011, and the bottom fell out of the markets.
Greece has faced economic collapse, and the threat spread to Italy.
The European debt crisis will cross the threshold of 2012 along with fears of another global recession.
Violent protest also characterized much of 2011, with riots in the streets of Cairo and Moscow. On the streets of Ficksburg, Andries Tatane was killed, allegedly by a group of policemen, when he joined a service delivery protest. Syria was cited for human rights violations.
Norway experienced a shocking terrorist attack, and the world's most notorious terrorist, Osama bin Laden, was killed, as was former Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi.
There were also events that marked the end of an era and the beginning of a new phase of history. After 30 years, NASA ended its space programme, while China launched its first space laboratory module.
South Africa saw the passing of Mrs Albertina Sisulu, Professor Kader Asmal, and my dear friend, Professor Lawrie Schlemmer.
We also saw the passing of a political career, as Mr Julius Malema was finally disciplined for sowing divisions in the ANC. Somehow it was acceptable for him to sow divisions in our nation and hurl unwarranted insults at public figures. It was also acceptable for him to shake investor confidence. But now he is taking on the President of the ANC in his usual derogatory manner.
This year was certainly marked by political scandal, from the Public Protector's findings on the National Commissioner of Police and the Minister of Public Enterprises, to the 12 year sentence of the State Security Minister's wife for drug smuggling. Our country's growing reputation for drug mules was highlighted when Linden was executed in China.
This caused South Africans to question the reciprocity of our Government's great friendship with China, the friendship that prevented His Holiness the Dalai Lama from being allowed to enter South Africa, again. Government was also questioned when the undemocratic Protection of Information Bill was passed, in the face of unanimous opposition from the citizenry.
In politics, this was a year of divisions and splits, with serious cracks being exposed in the ranks of the ANC. The DA has been split over the election of Ms Lindiwe Mazibuko. COPE's legal battle continues as Mr Mbhazima Shilowa's faction fights on. NFP councillors rejected the NFP-ANC coalition in KwaZulu Natal and voted for IFP leaders. And the IFP saw its role transformed through the Local Government Elections to a no-holds barred opposition party.
In the midst of these seismic shifts in our political landscape, South Africans faced a tough year. The jobs that were supposed to be created failed to materialize. Prices continued to rise. Many families saw medical bills that they couldn't pay, car repossessions, failed businesses, retrenchments and mounting household debt. As a nation, we can be as optimistic as we like, but the pressure of financial difficulties will take its toll.
At the start of 2011, in his State of the Nation Address, our country's President identified some noble objectives for the year.
Despite this, South Africa endured a difficult year. We are not alone in the enormous challenges that face us. We share these challenges with the African continent, and the rest of the world.
But developing countries like ours are further disadvantaged in the present climate of global crisis. We have to work extra hard. We have to be extra vigilant. Our leaders need to go the extra mile in pursuing noble objectives.
I am committed to keep pointing out the right direction and hold our leaders accountable. Democracy means that we all have a say. I encourage you to make your voice heard in 2012 - become politically active.
As we enter a new year, may the Lord grant us the strength and moral leadership we need to overcome the challenges before us. May the coming year hold more than promises. May it hold the fulfilment of our greatest hopes.
On behalf of the Inkatha Freedom Party, I wish you and your families a peaceful Christmas, a safe festive season and a new year characterized by success.
Yours in the service of the nation,
Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP