PRINCE MANGOSUTHU BUTHELEZI MP
PRESIDENT OF THE INKATHA FREEDOM PARTY
Nongoma: 18 March 2018
It is good to have a chance to come together and discuss significant issues. You know that I always look forward to visiting Nongoma because of the ties I have to this place. I enjoy meeting with the people of Nongoma and listening as you talk about life and politics. There is always a sense of hope, even when things are difficult, because we have gone through tough times before and, every time, goodwill, unity and hope have prevailed.
So when I come to Nongoma, I come ready to feel uplifted by the spirit of goodwill that exists within this community. I also come ready to acknowledge that this spirit of goodwill is born of faith. It is because of the prayers of grandmothers, the bible studies of youth groups, and the sharing of testimonies that faith remains strong in Nongoma. And because of this faith, the Lord is glorified.
I respect the religious beliefs of all South Africans. I realise that not all of us serve the same God. But I myself am a Christian and I have seen the enormous power of my God at work in our nation. I cannot therefore sit quietly and pretend that politics has nothing to do with faith. If politics is the art of serving one's fellow man, then faith and politics are intimately intertwined.
Knowing this, I welcomed the invitation from our Mayor of Nongoma, Councillor Albert Mncwango, to come here and celebrate the peace we have enjoyed in Nongoma over the past few months. I had hoped to come here during the festive season to pray with you and give thanks, but I was unfortunately unable to do that. Since then, within just a few weeks, there have been some dramatic changes in our country.
Not least, of course, is the change of President. I believe we must thank God for the smooth transition from our former President to the new incumbent. When it happened, it happened fast. When I walked into the Presidency in Cape Town to witness the swearing in of the new President, I could sense that change was on the horizon. And change indeed came, with a significant Cabinet reshuffle that saw several ministers lose their jobs.
In his speech to the nation, the President emphasised that a new wind is blowing, that a new chapter has opened, and we are in a time of renewal. I can only pray that that is true. Because, with all the changes, the fact remains that the President and all his Ministers are bound to the policies and ideologies of their party.
The same party that refused to discipline their President when he broke his oath of office; the same party that allowed the social grant system to be brought to the brink of collapse; the same party that wrecked our economy to the point of junk status: this is the party to whom the President is beholden.
The tail does not wag the dog. It is always the dog that wags the tail.
So we need to be very careful about this rhetoric of everything suddenly being different. The ruling party has not changed its spots. It has just put on a clean shirt, over its spots, because an election is coming!
There is already dramatic movement within all political parties to campaign for 2019. Already we have seen leaders make inflammatory statements, like the leader of the EFF did last week when he so flippantly said that traditional land in KwaZulu Natal should be given to an ANC-led Government. The contempt he showed towards our King was deeply distasteful, and all for the sake of politicking.
The issue of land is central right now, and it is highly emotive. Here in KwaZulu Natal we believe that democracy means bringing governance closer to the people. In other words, letting people participate in decision making, not as an afterthought, which is what happens when leaders come and report back on what has already been decided. We believe in empowering people, through community structures, to engage with municipal councils and become part of local governance.
That is why the IFP has such great respect for traditional leaders, because the institution of traditional leadership operates on collective wisdom, broad participation and consensus. It is, by its nature, democracy in action. We believe that communities must have a voice in their municipal councils, not only through political representatives, but through traditional leaders, so that together they can deliver the best governance possible.
We therefore do not want to see traditional leaders stripped of all authority to serve. I have been fighting for empowered communities all my life, and part of that fight is to see the institution of traditional leadership strengthened. But the ruling party has been my greatest opponent. They have continuously spoken about the importance of traditional community structures, while at the same time passing legislation that strips away the role, powers and functions of traditional leaders. An ANC Government has taken over all the powers and functions of traditional leaders, and it now wants to take the land as well.
I was disappointed this past week when the President appeared before Parliament for his first Question and Answer session. The IFP raised the issue of the promise made to Amakhosi in November 2000, that Chapters 7 and 12 of the Constitution would be amended to ensure that traditional leadership would still have a role in local governance. That promise was made by a Cabinet Committee led by the then Deputy President Jacob Zuma, and it was made to convince Amakhosi to participate in the Local Government Elections. We all participated. But the promise was broken.
When we raised this question in Parliament, I hoped that the new President would be brave enough to face it head on, proving that this is indeed a new chapter. But, like his predecessor, he evaded the question. Evidently traditional leaders are good for bringing in votes, but not good enough to participate in governance. What then does our Constitution mean when it recognises traditional leaders?
I relate all this because I think we need to tread carefully when it comes to believing in a new dawn. We have accepted enough words without substance. We deserve some evidence. If they want us to believe that things are different now that Mr Zuma is gone, they need to show us. Prove that corruption is no longer present. Prove that service is getting better and faster. Prove that promises are not just slogans to win votes in an election.
Why should anyone get your vote unless they've earned it? To me, a leader shouldn't say one thing and do something else. That shows a lack of character and hidden motives.
For more than four decades I have demanded integrity from the IFP. I have held our leaders accountable for doing what they say they will do. We talk straight, even when the truth is uncomfortable. We are honest and frank. Because of this, you know you can trust the IFP. We have earned your trust with consistent leadership. We have proven through our actions what we say with our mouths. Our motives are good, and our plans to get there are transparent.
That makes the IFP a very different creature. We are in politics for the purpose of serving; not only the people, but the best interests of the country. We are not here to serve a party, and we certainly don't put politics or power before people. To the IFP, people come first.
I know that certain leaders in politics are appealing to the justified anger and frustration that many people feel. They rabble-rouse and stir up contention, because theatrics is often more interesting than facts, honesty and hard work. There are also leaders who appeal to people's fears, reducing the debate to racism and urging that only a vote for them will save us from disaster. Then there are those who are desperately trying to claw their way back, who will use any means to get there.
When I look at the politics of other parties, I wonder if the IFP is a political party at all! We are far more like a family than a political party. The IFP understands that what is good for each family member must also be good for the family. South Africa is a deeply unequal society. It is not just about some having money while others are poor. There are some who have power, while others are helpless. There are some who have connections, while others pray for opportunity.
We need to set things right in South Africa, not just on the surface, but within the hearts of all South Africans. We cannot slide further into this terrible darkness of corruption, connections and abuse of power. It makes no sense to pit one group of people against another, just because it might win votes. If anyone is preying on your fears, your anger or your pain, in order to get power, how can you trust them? They know very well that if they allay your fears, pacify your anger or heal your pain, they will have nothing to campaign on. They want to keep you angry, afraid and hurting.
This is a difficult truth, but it must be spoken, because I want you to think carefully. An election is coming. If you thought you had seen campaigning before, it is nothing compared to what is coming. Politicians will be fighting for your hearts and minds in the coming months. Don't be misled. Don't be tricked. Don't let your vote be bought. Think carefully about what they are selling. If their message is not a message you can trust, don't trust it!
No one is going to put things right overnight. No one is going to rain down riches on struggling communities. That is not how economies work. It takes years of hard work, honest leadership, and the right policy decisions to produce enough for everyone to benefit. You have seen the IFP do this in KwaZulu Natal. You have seen the work we put in, and the results we get out. There is no shortcut.
But things can move faster and yield more fruit. The way to do that is to strengthen the workers. When the partnership between the IFP and the people we serve is strong and active, great things are achieved. This morning I had the pleasure of handing over a house to Mrs Ngema at KwaLindizwe. Mrs Ngema is physically challenged and has struggled with inadequate shelter for years. When her problem was brought to the attention of the Mayor, through the community, a partnership helped solve the problem. A good Samaritan was found, and a house was built. An individual was helped.
We want to duplicate that again and again, building, helping, solving, nourishing, uniting and protecting. That is the character of the IFP. We appeal to the goodwill that exists in our people. Ours is a message of hope. There is no other party that exists purely to serve. That makes the IFP somehow strange in the political environment. But that's okay by me. Let us be strange! We're a party that cares, a party that prays, a party that believes in miracles.
Today, as we gather in Nongoma to give thanks for peace, I want to express my appreciation to every one of you. You are part of our family. The IFP values what you can bring to the wellbeing of everyone. We welcome your participation. We honour your voice.
I want to invite you to immerse yourself deeper in the IFP family. If you are not yet a member, please speak to our leaders. Renew your membership, if you haven't done that for a while. Ask about our policies. Talk about the way we do things. Join a branch. Start a branch. Find out how you can participate in the Youth Brigade or the Women's Brigade. Become more active, mobilising support. Because as much as the IFP is unlike any other political party, we still need votes. It is only with your electoral support that the IFP can remain as a strong voice in politics.
We want to stop politics from descending into power games. We want to be that lighthouse of truth. But to do that, the IFP needs your backing. So I ask you to start a conversation about voting for integrity in 2019. Let's get the votes behind the IFP, so that the values of the IFP will take centre stage. This is what our country needs. And we are ready to provide it.
I thank you.