Dear friends and fellow South Africans,
As the first glow of election fever subsides, analysts are ascribing a wide variety of meanings to the results. Writing in the Business Day this week, Mr Aubrey Matshiqi admits quite freely, "Maybe not in this column, but in my writing in the weeks to come, I will try to contaminate my opinion with facts." For now, he says, what we have are subjective and selective readings of the results.
As the leader of one of the contesting parties who was in the thick of the fray throughout this campaign, my opinion is based solidly on the facts. So let me give my reading of the 2014 results.
Throughout this campaign, I spoke frankly to the electorate about how the political landscape was about to change. Twenty years into democracy, we were set for some dramatic shifts, and the results prove that we are heading in a new direction.
Overwhelmingly, the focus has been on the ANC's percentage drop which cost it 15 seats in Parliament, the DA's percentage increase, the strong showing by the relatively new EFF, and the "decimation" of COPE.
But other changes are worth noting. The Minority Front, the United Christian Democratic Party and the Azanian People's Organisation will no longer be represented in Parliament. Instead, Parliament will see some new parties: AgangSA, the African Independent Congress, the National Freedom Party and the Economic Freedom Fighters. The APC, PAC and ACDP decreased their percentage of the vote, while the FF+ and UDM increased their percentage.
In the midst of all this change, one thing stayed the same. The IFP remained the fourth largest political party in South Africa.
COPE has effectively been replaced by the EFF, swopping one fiery opposition leader with another. Those angry, disappointed or disillusioned enough with the ANC and DA want someone who speaks their language of anger and frustration.
The EFF is attractive because it offers immediate solutions, regardless of whether they are realistic, actionable or in the best interests of South Africa. I think many unemployed and struggling South Africans voted EFF for the same reason that so many unemployed and struggling South Africans buy lottery tickets. The chance of it changing their personal circumstances is basically non-existent. But imagine if it did.
The IFP retained its position as the voice of reason for those who cannot vote ANC when the ANC has become corrupt; will not vote DA as it is perceived by some as a "white" party; and know better than to vote EFF when the EFF's policies will sink South Africa's economy almost immediately.
The IFP remains the first choice for people of goodwill, who are determined to reinstate sound values, integrity and honesty in leadership. We don't have the kind of war-chest the bigger parties have to fight election campaigns, but we attract the voter who votes with their head and their values, refusing to be bought, bullied or cajoled.
I am proud to represent such people and proud to serve South Africans who genuinely want what is best for South Africa. IFP people are not in it to safeguard their own rights and protect their little piece of South Africa. They are in it to safeguard everyone's rights and to protect all South Africa.
On behalf of the IFP, I want to thank every single voter who made their mark for the IFP on the 7th of May 2014. We have received your mandate with humility and enthusiasm, and we will keep up the fight to bring integrity, reason and servant leadership back into politics.
Much has been made of the percentage decrease the IFP received. But this is in line with the realignment of politics at this point in our democracy, towards a predominantly two party system.
As the DA grew, the overall number of seats in opposition outside of the DA shrunk. This suggests that voters who subscribe to the policies of smaller parties feel that the threat from the ANC is big enough at this point to warrant supporting its numerically strongest opposition. In part, this accounts for the large percentage of Christian voters who gave their vote to the liberal and secular DA, while believing in the policies and values of the ACDP.
Along the same lines, one could argue that it was the new threat of the EFF - which many see as the Mr Hyde of the ANC - that had the constituents of smaller opposition parties panicking enough to rather strengthen the DA.
So a reduced percentage was expected. Indeed, those who habitually predict the IFP's demise foretold that we would be decimated. Even IPSOS had us at 1%. But we surpassed all the predictions, and we are returning to Parliament with 10 members. That means 10 strong voices bringing reason, integrity and direction to debates in the National Assembly.
I look forward to working with the team the IFP has assembled, and the electorate has empowered, for the fifth Parliament of South Africa. We have strong and vocal women with experience in Parliament, who speak truth to power. We have young leaders, including the National Chairman of the IFP Youth Brigade, who have their finger on the pulse of our nation.
We have a constitutional lawyer, who has successfully challenged the Rules of Parliament in favour of your representatives introducing draft legislation. We have a medical professional, a former Inspector of Education and a traditional leader. We have the former Minister of Finance in KwaZulu Natal, who is the Treasurer General of the IFP. We have a skilled political strategist, and an experienced councillor who understands business.
Our team represents a variety of language groups, cultures and backgrounds. But all of us have experience, vision and passion. We have skill and political will. We have the courage to do what it takes to bring bold solutions that are in the best interests of all South Africa.
The IFP respects the mandate of the electorate in 2014. We will continue to serve with excellence, driving a revolution of goodwill. Thank you for your support. Thank you for voting IFP.
Yours in the service of our nation,
Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP
Issued by the IFP, May 13 2014
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