Mr Dave Savides
Via email: [email protected]
I have taken note of an article written by Carl de Villiers titled "IFP's challenge: modernize or perish" (Zululand Observer: July 8, 2011) in which Mr de Villiers makes a number of startling and unsubstantiated claims about the IFP.
Mr de Villiers starts off by claiming that "IFP insiders concede that there is still no word from the party leadership about an urgent turnaround strategy" for the IFP. This is not true. Clearly, Mr De Villiers' misinformed "insiders" are not members of the IFP's National Council where a renewal strategy, geared towards a stronger showing for the Party in 2014, has been dominating talks at recent meetings of the decision-making body. These plans are already being put into action.
Mr de Villiers then blames the Party's less than satisfactory performance at the 2011 local poll on the fact that "the modern-day political game has moved beyond old traditional loyalties… something which the IFP seemingly fails to grasp". He further claims that the IFP "dropped the ball badly in dealing with the Magwaza affair." Both these allegations are inaccurate.
The IFP is not, and never has been, bound to just serving and nurturing traditional loyalties. Nor has it been dedicated to serving rural and traditional interests exclusively. Everything we have done in the past 35 years, in securing democracy, and on issues like HIV/Aids, labour legislation, traditional leadership, migration and education, are not at all specific to our rural and traditional constituencies, but are in the greater interests of South Africa as a whole.
The Magwaza-Msibi affair was a painful experience. We have admitted that. But the facts are now a matter of public record. The IFP requested Mrs Magwaza-Msibi to appear before a disciplinary hearing to determine the veracity of her protestations that the "Friends of VZ" - a group of malcontents - were acting without her blessing or consent. Three days before the hearing was scheduled to take place she took a desperate step, approaching the Pietermaritzburg High Court to prevent us from holding the hearing. The High Court dismissed her application with costs. She knew she had lied to her Party and it was about to catch up with her. But, even after her court loss, we did not close the door on Magwaza-Msibi. Had she been in any way inclined, we could have explored reconciliation.
Mr de Villiers makes yet another baseless allegation when he claims that the IFP has allowed the "temptation of cronyism, the jobs-for-pals syndrome" to take over. We have always championed clean governance. In our 2011 local government manifesto, our public representatives committed themselves to arresting waste, corruption, nepotism, cronyism and all forms of mismanagement. If Mr de Villiers has any contradictory evidence, he should feel free to bring it to the IFP.
Continuing with his hogwash, Mr de Villiers then alleges that the "IFP is sacrificing the professionals in its midst and deploying illiterates to positions of power in the few areas it still holds sway." What utter nonsense. The IFP is blessed with professionals – ex-ministers, lawyers, doctors and teachers – at all levels within its structures.
We are aware of a Ward in Umhlathuze where "professional" candidates were beaten by less educated candidates. But that is the very nature of democracy. Elections are about choosing a candidate of one's choice. Should we deny the people of Umhlathuze their democratic right? Should we discriminate against people, elected by their communities to represent them, simply because they are not "professionals"? That is not how the IFP conducts its business.
We were the first to admit that we were disappointed with the outcome of the recent elections, but we have no intention of bowing out. Contrary to the beliefs of our detractors and the likes of Mr de Villiers, the IFP has not reached its "sell-by date". Far from it.
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. Our plan of action is simple: we will continue to champion principled leadership, for the sake of this province, this country and the future.
Mr Blessed Gwala MPL
IFP National Executive Committee Member (NEC)