Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP
President Of The Inkatha Freedom Party
Thank you for welcoming me and the leadership of the IFP to Uthukela so that we might celebrate with you the growth of our Party. I am proud today to congratulate many new and returning members to the IFP. You are coming home to a unified and growing family, and we welcome your presence and contribution. We know that the IFP is made up of many different individuals, drawn together by the common goal of seeing South Africa prosper. Those who find their political home in the IFP are invariably patriots and leaders in their own right; people who inspire others through their own enthusiasm.
This is a particularly significant moment for you to join the IFP, for we are in the thick of an election campaign that will change the face of politics in our country. 2016 has brought with it the chance to influence the leadership and governance of South Africa from the ground up. In just a few weeks’ time, we will go to the polls in another Local Government Election. This opportunity comes just once every five years, in which we the people get to exercise our right to vote for our municipal representatives.
These are the people who interact with you directly on all issues of governance. They are your first line of communication with the leaders of our nation. They are responsible for serving your needs, answering your questions and keeping you informed of everything that affects your community, from issues of water, to housing, economic development, agriculture, crime and education. Your municipal councillor is the one tasked with helping when your school needs maintenance, or your local police station isn’t responding to your calls.
Local Governance is the level of government closest to you, your family and your community. It is the most fundamental level at which democracy is exercised and strengthened. Because of this, Local Government Elections are somehow more important even than national elections, for they decide who will serve you, face to face, in your own neighbourhood. They decide who will answer the phone when you call your councillor.
As the IFP contests this election, we are urging voters not to miss this opportunity. I know that more people are politically active now than in the past, and more people know who they want to vote for. There are very few South Africans at this juncture who don’t want to vote. We are on a knife edge in our country and everyone is affected. The weak and uncaring leadership we have faced from arrogant and immoral people has left us all determined to make our voices heard. We want to vote. We want to bring change.
All that is left is to ensure that the right people are voted into power. The electorate needs to choose wisely, because taking power away from those who are abusing us will only be effective if we give that power to people with integrity. There is a danger that we will jump out of the frying pan and into the fire if we don’t act judiciously. We need to choose a leadership we can trust, that is full of fire, but also full of wisdom.
South Africa needs the leadership of the IFP. Our country needs the IFP legacy, built over forty years of astute moral leadership. The IFP is known as a voice of reason, as the one who will act on the side of justice, and do the right thing regardless of how difficult it may be. The IFP is known for its integrity, for the absence of corruption within our governance, and for excellence in service. We are known for our partnership with the people of goodwill. These are the things South Africa needs at the present moment.
Since the last Local Government Election in 2011, voters have been calling the IFP back with every by-election. I spend almost every weekend at rallies, welcoming people back and welcoming new members to the IFP. We are growing at a rapid pace and already surveys are predicting that the IFP will double its support in 2016. While I generally don’t place much stock in predictions, by-election results are bearing out the idea that the IFP is on an upward trend.
We have taken wards from both the ANC and the NFP. We have increased our support in wards we already held. In the last five years, since the 2011 election, the IFP has more than tripled the number of municipalities we run. This tells us that the electorate wants an IFP victory in 2016.
Just ten days from now, another by-election will be held in ward 10 in Indaka. I urge you all to work hard to mobilise votes for the IFP. Let’s show our opponents that the trend is strong in Indaka just as it is elsewhere. The IFP is on the rise.
We will also need to work hard in Indaka to educate the electorate on the coming Local Government Elections and ensure that everyone re-registers. Indaka Municipality is one of seven municipalities in KwaZulu Natal which have been merged with other municipalities. Voters may therefore find that they are no longer registered on the voters’ roll. The IEC has called on everyone in Indaka to re-register. I urge you to do this at the first voter registration weekend on 6 and 7 February. Don’t miss this opportunity, or you may forfeit your democratic right to vote.
As I think of the work that lies ahead, I mourn the loss of Councillor Joseph Muziwenhlanhla Ntshaba, who was tragically taken in a car accident on 28 December 2015. He was our former Mayor of Mtshezi and he represented the IFP on the Uthukela District Executive. Our sympathy remains with his family, as our party feels this loss.
Knowing then the enormity of the work ahead, let us consider our best course of action. The most effective thing we can do between now and the Local Government Elections is to strengthen our structures in Uthukela. I encourage you to join a branch of the IFP in your community and to become actively involved in growing it. When it comes time for elections, the IFP converts its branches into election committees. The work of mobilising support for an election victory is done through our branches. It is done by you, our soldiers on the ground, the people who inspire others with enthusiasm.
The focus now must be on branches: strengthening them, getting them active, growing them and starting up new ones. Wherever our branches are strong, the votes will follow. We have seen this in one by-election after the next, so we know the formula for success in 2016. This is the time to make your mark in the IFP. Show us what you can do in these elections, for there is no better time than now. If we can get the IFP into power into municipalities across KwaZulu Natal, we will change the game completely.
The first thing to change will be corruption. Along with that, will be lazy councillors. The IFP is not like our opponents. They buy your vote with empty promises and once-off food parcels, but as soon as they have power they stop serving. The IFP delivers whether it is election time or not. We work consistently day in and day out, not because we are trying to win your favour, but because it is our reason for existence. We exist to serve. The IFP’s mission is to create a unified, prosperous and stable South Africa in which every individual can claim a stake. We are not in this for power. We do what we do in order to empower South Africans.
The National Executive Committee of the IFP has made it very clear to our councillors that only those who serve your interests will be considered to stand for these elections. We are going to find the hardest workers, the ones who sacrifice their own interests to serve you, and we are going to hold them accountable every step of the way. There will be no more freeloading, no divisiveness, no camps, no self-serving leaders. There will only be servants of the people and you, the people we serve.
The next few weeks will be filled with activity. I invite you to join in and make your contribution. Take the initiative and start projects that will draw in support for the IFP. You are already active political campaigners. Do what you do for the right party. Do it for the IFP. This is your home and your family. We welcome you.
Having lost one of our powerful and diligent soldiers with the death of Councillor Ntshaba, we know that he has left a void. It is for us to fill up that void. And we can fill up that void by working twice and thrice as much as each one of you can do. That is the only way in which the void that has been opened by this loss can be filled.
We as members of the NEC have come here more often than to most of our districts because we remember the days when Uthukela was our stronghold.
This time it is very important to be careful who you choose as your councillors in the forthcoming elections. I am certain that a stalwart such as Councillor Ntshaba would have been re-elected. But there are councillors everywhere who have never done a thing for the people, and who do not respect our people on the ground. We cannot return such people as councillors for them to spend another 5 years doing nothing except getting paid salaries for doing absolutely NOTHING!