The Inkatha Freedom Party leader says the election result will be crucial to the future of SA
Address by Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP, President of the Inkatha Freedom Party, at the IFP's closing election rally,Enseleni, Sunday April 19 2009
I am delighted to be here in Enseleni, in the Othungulu District for the final rally of our election campaign and to be joined in our proceedings by television audiences all around the country. OThungulu is very dear to my heart for the people of this region have stood by my side throughout the long struggle that the IFP has waged to bring justice and prosperity to all South Africans.
Today is one of those days where we have a tryst with destiny. Today we are in the words of a famous Poet 'masters of our own fate'.
My fellow South Africans, in just three days, another step will be taken on our long journey together. Whether it will be a step forward or a step backward is in the hands of all of us. The decisions that each South African makes next Wednesday will determine whether the next five years will be more of the same under the ANC or a change to a better future under the IFP. This will be entirely in our own hands. In the hands of each one of us.
That is the critical choice before every South African. It will be no good complaining about the failures and corruption of the ANC government over the next five years, if we fail to go out and vote for change in the next few days.
In a democracy we are all responsible for how we are governed. And it is a cliché that people get a government they deserve. We are making this important decision because this is the moment to decide in your hearts who you will vote for on Wednesday the 22nd of April. I do not want anyone to leave this sports ground today with any doubt in their mind about which Party can take South Africa forward on a path of true democracy, greater liberty and real prosperity for all. In the last few months you have heard many promises from politicians, some outrageous and grand, and some obviously unrealistic. You have heard slogans that ring empty such as: "TOGETHER WE CAN" or "UNITE FOR CHANGE" or "WITH US YOU CAN WIN" etc. I am here to give you straight talk such as you are used to from my lips.
So, at this closing rally of our election campaign, I make no apologies for repeating and indeed reinforcing the same message that I have delivered at every meeting, on every doorstep and at every event during the campaign. It is a simple message but a vital one nonetheless: Whatever else you do on Wednesday make sure you go out and vote. Make sure your family and friends and work colleagues go out and vote, indeed make sure that everyone you know goes out and votes IFP.
All the indications are that this will be a very close election throughout this country. Really there are only two possible winners in this province, the IFP or the ANC. Your vote could be the difference between defeat and victory; between providing the chance for hope and change to flourish in South Africa with the IFP, or watching our country stagnate, and service delivery decline further under the ANC.
I don't need to tell you what will happen if the ANC win again. You know what will happen because you have had to suffer the consequences of their failure to deliver basic public services over the past 15 years, This was not because all the policies of the ruling party were bad. They had a number of good policies which they just failed to carry through either because of the arrogance of power or just sheer ineptitude.
I sometimes wonder why the expert political analysts spend so much time speculating over what the ANC will do after the elections. To me it is really quite simple - they will do what they did before the elections.
They will fight among themselves and against anyone who dares to oppose them; they will enrich themselves and their friends; and they will impoverish the country and every one of us who lives in it. I have been involved in politics all my life but you don't need to be a political expert to know that is what they will do. It is exactly what they have done for the past five years and - if they are allowed to get away with it on election day - it is what they will do for the next five years - only worse.
They will fail to tackle homelessness or joblessness and they will continue to ignore the dreadful poverty that is to be found in every part of our country. I have lived among our poor all my life, I know the poverty that affects so many people and I will never abandon the rural and urban poor as the ANC has. That is why the IFP is determined to take the necessary action to raise people out of poverty through increases in social grants and by ensuring access to education for every citizen. We have immediate term solutions to meet the current emergencies and long term proposals.
To this end an IFP government proposes free education up to and including Grade
12 to ensure all our children can get a decent education; we have recommended a basic income grant and to increase the social pension to at least R1,500 per month in the present economic crisis and we have proposed the child support grant to R880 per month. These are the real changes we think can bring the task of tackling poverty and providing education for all. These are changes that you are not likely to get under an ANC government. If the ANC is returned to government they will draw the conclusion that they can continue to abandon the poor and take the people of South Africa for granted as we have seen in the last 15 years.
Every day more that the ANC is in power, its leaders will become more arrogant in their disregard for the people who elected them; more dismissive of the views of anyone who fails to carry an ANC party card; and more contemptuous of even the most basic standards of moral and ethical conduct. We have good anti-corruption legislation on our statute books and yet we have seen that the ruling party has not regarded acts of corruption that have been committed by their members seriously.
15 years ago when we embarked on the first steps on our democratic journey, we were filled with hope that we could change South Africa for better. As part of a broad based government drawing on the talents of varying political and cultural traditions, I was proud to see IFP ministers contributing to that change and proud myself to be part of changing South Africa for the better. I have never succumbed to the temptation of saying that nothing good was done at all.
But I must be honest with you, even in those much better days I had my worries.
Already the ANC was demonstrating an overbearing arrogance, claiming that only they were the true voice of freedom; that only they were legitimate participants in the struggle for democracy; that only their views counted in the new South Africa. To them there was no place for heroes of the struggle who did not carry an ANC party card. Their ears were deaf to the voices of sacrifice and service of our comrades and their eyes blind to the suffering and struggle of our people.
It didn't matter what your political tradition or background. It only mattered whether you were prepared to sign up to the ANC and its version of history - or whether you were not. We were not and we are not. We know the real history of this country and the sacrifices of those of us who stayed at home and often stood alone against apartheid. We do not believe that the evils of political intolerance or the crushing of opposing viewpoints - practices learnt by ANC cadres outside the borders of this country - have any place in South Africa.
And so I am standing here today, just as I have stood on platforms at rallies all over South Africa. I am standing here because I believe we have to change the way we are doing things in this country. Because I know that we will not solve the challenges of South Africa unless we first understand that we must solve them together. It is only when the ANC recognises that no-one has the monopoly on wisdom and that every South African has their part to play, that we will be successful in re-building this nation.
Change is not just a slogan in this country, it is an urgent need. If you ever wonder if it will make any difference whether we change who is in power in our province or our country, let me give you two illustrations which will leave you in no doubt.
The first illustration is in the field of education, one of the most critical services for the development of our country. Consider these stark facts. When the IFP led the provincial government the matriculation pass rate stood at over 74%. Today - after just five years of the ANC running the province - the pass rate has collapsed to less than 58%. In that simple statistic is represented the hopes of thousands of young people which have been cruelly crushed by the scandalous incompetence of the African National Congress. Few of them will be in any doubt of the difference that a change of government can bring to the lives of ordinary people. None of us should be either.
The second illustration of the need for change relates to the terrible tragedy that has come over the country as a result of HIV/Aids. From the earliest days I spoke out about the dangers to the country if we did not act rapidly to head off the pandemic. The ANC closed their ears to our calls for public information campaigns and the prescription of retrovirals to prevent mother to child transmission of the virus. In the end the IFP instructed Premier Mtshali, to take the ANC national government to court in order to provide protection to
those suffering with HIV. And it was only by this action that pregnant mothers were able to get NEVARAPINE, which prevented their children from being born already sentenced to death by being born already infected with HIV.
In Uganda, where the government had the foresight to implement the proposals that we were urging upon the ANC, the HIV/Aids prevalence rate was reduced from over 30% to just 5%. In South Africa instead it has soared. Had the ANC listened to me and my colleagues instead of arrogantly dismissing our proposals, tens of thousands, perhaps even millions of lives could have been saved. So let no-one underestimate the difference that a change of government can make. That is why after over 50 years in political life, I am still here campaigning with you in Enseleni, despite the many attractions of retirement.
A lot of people are talking about change in this election but to most of them it is no more than an empty slogan, borrowed from an election campaign on another continent. For me, however, it is very real because I have campaigned for change all my life and I don't intend to stop until South Africa gets the change it needs. Sadly, we know that this change cannot come as long as we have an ANC government that is awash with factionalism and corruption and devoid of the principles and moral leadership that our country so desperately cries out for.
The IFP is here to restore that moral leadership to South Africa so that we can start to tackle the social crisis that threatens to overwhelm our country. If we are to fix the problems that afflict our society we will first have to acknowledge the scale of the crisis. Our society is broken, family structures are collapsing and an 'anything goes' culture is taking hold in our urban communities. Never has moral leadership been so desperately needed nor so shamefully lacking from our government. It is without doubt time for a change.
Through fifty years of public service I have sought to provide this moral lead to South Africa. When others denigrated the traditional values of honesty, hard work and self-reliance, I championed them. When family values began to disappear from our country I fought to re-establish them; and when an 'anything-goes' culture started to assert itself in South Africa I led the challenge to this way of life.
My passion for traditional values does not arise out of nostalgia for a distant past; it is rooted in the urgent need to tackle the social and moral crisis of today. That is why I have so consistently and urgently sought to impress upon the leaders of the country a simple truth: that unless they are prepared to provide a moral lead to the country we will never fix the problems we face. How can we fight criminality when a never ending stream of ANC politicians see nothing wrong with helping themselves to the public purse? How can we uphold the rule of law when our justice system is disgracefully abused and distorted by the ANC to play out their vicious factional fights? How can we ever hope to establish a sense of moral behaviour in our country when ANC leaders provide the opposite example?
The answer is that we cannot. So long as corrupt and immoral leaders are represented in the upper echelons of government we will never be able to face down the moral crisis that challenges this country. It is time for change and the IFP is the only Party which can offer this change.
Here in KwaZulu Natal, I am very proud to have Mrs Zanele KaMagwaza-Msibi as our candidate for Premier. Her record of service and sacrifice is well known to the people of Zululand municipality. She is an inspirational leader and an able administrator who will bring order and effectiveness back to the government of the province.
The scale of her challenge will be considerable. After five years of ANC rule, this province is in a bad shape. I have already spoken of the disastrous decline in educational standards but the ANC's failure goes far beyond that.
The official unemployment rate is over 30% and is far higher in reality; there is a backlog of more than 300,000 homes; over 6000 civil servants are under investigation for housing fraud and the classroom backlog is nearly 10,000.
This is the scale of the challenge that will be left to our Premier candidate by the ANC's reckless, arrogant incompetence. Nevertheless, I have no question in my mind that our premier candidate has all the skills and determination required to meet this challenge.
This record of ANC failure is not confined to KwaZulu Natal, it is to be found in every province and every town and city in South Africa where the ANC holds sway. The arrogance and administrative incompetence of the ANC walk hand in hand. It is because of their arrogance that they fail to listen to the advice of others; ride roughshod over the views of the people who elected them; and preside over declining public services and ever increasing corruption.
The ANC has had its chance to change South Africa for the better and after fifteen years it has no more excuses for its failure. Every one of us has a simple choice next Wednesday, whether we want another five years of ANC government with more corruption, more criminality and more people without jobs or homes or hope. Or whether we want to bring hope and change to South Africa with a new IFP government.
Those who support the ANC or who stay away from the voting stations next Wednesday should be very clear about the message that they will send to the ANC. They will be telling the ANC that corruption is acceptable; that declining health, education and welfare services are not a problem; above all they will be telling the ANC to carry on as usual with corrupt and incompetent government.
In this election we have presented ourselves as the trie and tested alternative. There is an alternative, and that is the IFP. You know the IFP. You trust the IFP. We have been in government before, both nationally and in this Province, and we have a proven track record of good governance to back us.
There is no element of uncertainty over where we stand on issues, like there is with the ANC which bends to the pressures of its alliance partners, changes with the winds of political correctness and follows the path of convenience. The IFP is a tried and tested alternative, and we are the trusted alternative to bring real change in a direction that has been chosen by the people of South Africa.
The IFP has worked side by side with ordinary South Africans for more than thirty years. We worked and lived and struggled in the trenches with you during apartheid. We did not leave South Africa until things got better. It was on South African soil that we worked to build houses, schools, clinics and hospitals when the majority of our people lived in poverty and under the unspeakable burden of racial discrimination. And it was in South African soil that we buried our leaders and members who were assassinated in the low intensity civil war that sprung out of our rejection of the armed struggle.
Even today, during this campaign our members have been shot at and harassed by ANC members aided and abetted by members of the National Intervention Unit of the Police Force. Talk of a free and fair election, there has never been such a thing in this country. This election is no exception.
The IFP has worked for you when we struggled for liberation. We worked for you when we chose negotiations instead of war, cognisant of the pain and loss our people had already been forced to endure. We worked for you when we went to the World Trade Centre and demanded that provinces be recognised in South Africa's first democratic constitution, so that ordinary people would be empowered to participate in their governance at a local level. We worked for you when we sat in the Government of National Unity and balanced the ANC's inexperience with our own firsthand knowledge of good government practices, the value of public participation and the need for accountability, absolute integrity and forward planning.
The IFP worked for you in KwaZulu Natal when we established the KwaZulu Finance Corporation to extend specialist assistance to entrepreneurs. We worked for you when we rolled out anti-retrovirals in KwaZulu Natal to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV/Aids; an action that saved thousands of lives. We worked for you when we promoted subsistence agriculture to ensure food security, with the foresight to expect a global economic decline. We worked for you when we challenged the ruling Party's flawed fiscal policies, education policies and job creation programmes. We worked for you when we called for a free market economy, federalism, decentralisation, provincial autonomy, recognition of the Zulu Kingdom, the monarchy and the institution of Traditional Leadership.
The IFP has worked for you since 1975, and we have not stopped working for you.
We are the party that works, because we have the experience, capacity, political will and humility necessary to serve the people of South Africa. The IFP has always had a long -term vision and a strategic plan for the future. Much of what we said in years gone by was rejected and even ridiculed, but is today accepted as common sense and best practice. We have a lot to say about the future of South Africa, and we know that in a few years time people will again look back to what the IFP said and recognise that it was right, necessary and timely.
We have come to a Kairos moment in South Africa. The results of Wednesday's election will determine how South Africans will feel when they look back on this moment in a few years time. Will they regret that they did not empower the IFP to bring the solutions they needed? Or will they thank God that the IFP rode the crest of the wave of votes right into governance in this Province, bringing solutions, hope and change? The IFP is the tried and tested alternative. Will you go with what you know works, or will you accept to eat more of the same bitter meat the ANC has been feeding KwaZulu Natal?
This is the time to inspire hope for change in KwaZulu Natal. Things can change here and they must change. The IFP has put out its manifesto for all to see, and we have travelled across South Africa answering the questions put to us by South Africans. You know us and you know what we stand for. You know that I have never made false promises. I talk straight. The IFP has always spoken truth to power and we are not afraid to do so again. No matter how powerful the ANC thinks it has become, the IFP will speak the truth when justice is compromised, corruption is covered up and policies are unworkable. We are a loud voice in Parliament, and we want to be a loud voice across South Africa.
The voice of the IFP is the voice of the people. We do not say anything we have not heard you saying yourselves. We have heard you saying that Outcomes Based Education is not working, and we have voiced your voice. We have heard you saying that crime is out of control, and we have voiced your voice. We have heard you saying that the social grant system is inadequate in the face of widespread poverty, and we have voiced your voice loud and clear. The IFP recognises the voice of the people, and we speak with the same voice. We will not tell you what you need. We will have you tell us what you need, so that we can serve you.
The IFP lacks the arrogance of power. Our authority comes directly from the people. You, the people, have given us a mandate to serve, and we will continue to serve for as long as you speak through the ballot box and give us your mandate. Twice I have tried to retire as the President of the Inkatha Freedom Party. But twice my Party has unanimously urged me to stay. I know that I bear a responsibility to my Party, to my country and to God to continue to offer the IFP's contribution to South Africa. Through 12 years, the IFP's contribution has secured a better country. South Africa still needs us - and it needs us now more than ever.
Since the dawn of democracy, there has never been a moment so decisive and so important as this next election. South Africa stands on the threshold of possibility. The results of this election will place us on a definitive course that will be very difficult, if not impossible, to change. If the ANC is given more power, we are headed for a future in which corruption, unemployment, criminality, poverty, lack of development, despair and immorality will become our daily companions. But if the IFP is given more power, we can again save our country from absolute perdition. In 1980 Zimbabwe gained her independence and it was regarded as the economic jewel and bread basket of Africa. We were all proud and rejoiced. She was our biggest trading partner. We have seen that it does not take much to destroy even a wonderful a jewel that Zimbabwe was in 1980, and subsequent years. South Africa needs to wake up and prevent us becoming a one-party state where our country becomes virtually an elective dictatorship.
That is not what South Africa wants. The country is crying for change. But let us be honest. South Africa won't get change by voting for things to stay the same; it won't get change if people stay at home complaining instead of going out and voting. Change comes when people demand it and that is what every one of us must do next Wednesday. This is a day when every South African will be as powerful as the next. There is no excuse for any of us not to use that power to change our politics and choose a government that will wage war on poverty; root out corruption and criminality, uphold the rule of law and provide a real moral lead to the country. The IFP will provide such a government.
You have within your hands a powerful tool for change. Every single one of us in this stadium has an equal vote. Every vote counts. I urge you to get to the polling stations early on Wednesday and cast your vote for the IFP. Then go and wake your neighbours and get them to the polling stations to vote IFP.
SMS your friends and ask if they have voted for the IFP yet. Speak to your colleagues, speak to your family, speak to everyone you meet on the street and tell them to go and vote IFP, because every vote for the IFP is a vote for victory. Today, victory calls all the people of goodwill in South Africa to make up your minds to vote IFP. Decide now. Make your decisions now. Do not leave this place today without knowing what you are going to do on April 22nd.
I will tell you again; the IFP is the tried, tested and trusted alternative.
Let's work together again to restore hope to South Africa. May God bless our country as we go to vote. May God bless South Africa.