Source: Inkatha Freedom Party
Title: IFP: Buthelezi: Address by the leader of the Inkatha Freedom Party at a Bethal rally
It is a great privilege to be with you in this wonderful Province of Mpumalanga.
As a politician of so many decades you all know that I never try to win the minds and hearts of people through deceiving people by saying only the things which they would like to hear. I am not in politics to seek populism. I am in politics to serve the people of South Africa that I have served for more than four decades. I warned during the dark days of apartheid that after we achieve our political liberation, we will face a more fierce battle for our economic emancipation. I resisted the temptation to tell the people that after we achieve our democratic dispensation that everything will be rosy in the garden.
This is why even at this time during a general election, I dare not change my stance with which you are all familiar, which is to tell it like it is.
I however, bring you a message of hope, amidst the uncertainty of South Africa's domestic woes. These are exacerbated by lack of service delivery which has worsened, now that we have now also been overtaken by the global economic meltdown. My message is nevertheless a message of hope for the hardworking and law-abiding citizens of this country whose prospects for a better future have been dashed by a government that has so far served well an oligarch of a selected few rather than the mess of our poorest of the poor. I have never condemned all the policies of government. I have honestly said that there have been good things we have achieved, but that they are far from addressing the woes of our Nation.
We meet in Bethal today a mere 40 days before the 2009 national election, a contest that will without a doubt be one of the most important elections in the history of South Africa. Depending on the outcome, I believe South Africa is likely to rise up and change for the better or forever abandon it in an irretrievable path towards corruption and the neglect of the interests of the people of South Africa.
Without mincing words, let me tell you what is wrong with South Africa fifteen years since the advent of democracy to our country. We have our liberation movement which was once a movement based on the fundamental notion of serving the interests of the people, today it is about the ambitions of self-serving politicians. Our liberation struggle was about the dream of giving everyone the opportunity of a dignified life, free from fear, need and hopelessness, not providing opportunities for a select few.
Our liberation movement was about issues, strategies, values and a never-ending struggle to change society. It was not about the cult of personalities, the fight amongst leaders to secure the top jobs for themselves, the ambition to rule for the sake of ruling and disdain for those who are left behind. And all propelled by an eagerness to compete on who has fingers on the resources of the State.
I believe that in many respects our Constitution has been betrayed. Our democracy is ailing. The people of South Africa have been forgotten. Our liberation struggle has been high-jacked.
The message which emerges from Mpumalanga today is one of neglect. Today there resonates from the grassroots level here in Mpumalanga a story of lack of service delivery, lack of access to the very basic of services, poverty and many broken promises.
In August of 2008, a team comprising of IFP members of parliament and staff travelled to the north-eastern part of Mpumalanga to see for themselves what many have labelled a severe water crisis in Bushbuckridge. What our members found was disheartening and disgraceful to say the least. What the IFP team witnessed was unimaginable twelve years since we adopted a constitution that promises us all the basic right to housing, food and water, health care, social security, education and a healthy environment.
Our IFP foot soldiers witnessed mothers and grandmothers walking kilometres each day with wheelbarrows and water cans in search of water - many returning late at night without any water to drink, cook or bath with. They witnessed scores of people queuing at one tap, many people's entire day spent, not earning a living, but waiting for their opportunity to access running water. They witnessed families digging in open fields in a desperate quest to find water - the little bit of dirty water unearthed used for drinking and washing clothes at the same time. During that very same month, the community of Bushbuckridge buried Pauline Mbizozo Ndubane 75, Flora Malatjie, 61 and Saliah Sibuyi 70, who fell to their deaths in a well in Nkomo village, looking for water.
We realized that many communities' desperate pleas in Mpumalanga for help had been ignored for far too long and we reported the Mpumalanga local government to the Human Rights Commission for denying the community their basic right to access water.
A full investigation followed - unfortunately all we got at the end of the exercise was another list of empty promises. It comes as no surprise then that nothing has changed for the people of Bushbuckridge.
It is also a fact comrades, that the cholera outbreak in southern Limpopo and here in central Mpumalanga is as a result of lack of service delivery and that is nothing to do with the cholera crisis in neighbouring Zimbabwe.
Some of the municipalities are simply not doing enough to provide clean water, and safe sanitation in this country. Rural communities are being forced to use water that has been contaminated with waste. Human faeces are ending up in our rivers, and because some municipalities are failing to provide piped water, communities are forced to drink river water. The cholera outbreak is directly linked to this problem and even if we are able to beat the outbreak this year, cholera will keep recurring unless government starts dedicating real resources and technical expertise to the root causes in rural municipalities.
We must ask ourselves as we approach the April 22 election: is this is what the ruling party calls creating better life for all? Certainly not! The people of this province deserve better.
The ruling party's second decade in power has increasingly generated public protest against the lack of delivery. Fifteen years after liberation many South Africans still feel they have not been liberated at all. I say this not because I do not acknowledge that some things have been done, but fall far too short of our expectations.
The next object of our liberation in South Africa, I believe, must be our economy. It is a crucial policy objective that South Africa maximizes economic growth. The key point is that while growth cannot of itself solve all the problems of unemployment, poverty or inequality, it gives policy makers the tools to grapple more effectively with a wide range of socio-economic problems.
Our people have been given political rights, but they still lack the freedom to participate fully in the market economy. The labour market, as I have pointed out many times before remains constrained by our rigid labour laws resulting in crippling skills shortages.
When I was in the Cabinet we tried to propose draft legislation to correct this, as the ruling Party itself realized that it needed correcting. But what did we see? The Tripartite partners of the ruling party COSATU and SACP threatened that if we dared to pass such legislation, they would "roll mass action". That was the end of the matter.
I believe that the best opportunity for the electorate to take their future into their own hands is at the ballot box. The people of this wonderful province have one certain way of changing their destiny and that is by exercising their primary political right to vote.
But one fact of life is that we get the government we deserve! Many South Africans resent the lack of essential services, yet they cheerfully march into the ballot box and vote for the party which is directly responsible for the continuation of their woes.
Are these South Africans the victims of unclear public policy or inept political parties unable to explain themselves and offer a crisp, comprehensible and instantly recognizable alternative? I would dare to say that I think it is a bit of both.
Where does this leave the political organization I lead: the Inkatha Freedom Party?
The IFP brings a message of change and hope to the people of Mpumalanga.
In our advocacy of social assistance, we have gone even further than others. We say that the present social grants are too low and should be increased to at least R1 500 per month and child grants to R800 a month. We stand for the Basic Income Grant.
The IFP is the only opposition party with predominantly black support, with a proven track-record in government and most importantly, with the long term potential of governing the country. We represent the political centre ground, rejecting both centralized socialism of the ANC and "uncaring anything goes', liberalism.
These extremes are out of tune with the majority of South Africans who are aspirational and socially conservative. We are the real alternative. We aspire to lead South Africa into a second wave of democratic renewal, deepening democracy and spreading prosperity among our people. Having attained liberal freedom in 1994, South Africans are yet to be liberated economically.
One of the greatest challenges that we face is HIV/AIDS pandemic. From 3 per cent in 1994 it has gone up to 37 per cent. That is higher than the incidence of the pandemic at its height in Uganda. The difference between us and Uganda is that in Uganda the government and people of Uganda have managed to reduce the incidence of this pandemic from 30 per cent to 5 per cent when we last heard of their statistics on the pandemic. Some few years ago I attended the Southern African Christian Leadership Assembly (SACLA), where we were addressed by the first lady of Uganda Mrs Janet Museveni. Uganda has less resources than we have in South Africa and yet they achieved so much in reducing the incidence of the pandemic. She told us that they did so not just by condoms in preventing infection.
She told us that they went back to some of the indigenous norms of their people and to the teachings of the Bible. I know that the state has increased the funding of retrovirals. But we need to go beyond this and the use of prophylactics. We need moral regeneration such as Ugandans went back to. While condoms have their use in this situation, we need to go beyond just their use only. Mrs Museveni quoted to us what her husband President Yoweri Museveni stated at a conference on HIV/AIDS in Italy in 1998. She said President Museveni said: "IF WE WERE TO RELY ONLY ON A PIECE OF RUBBER FOR OUR SALVATION, THEN WE ARE ALREADY DOOMED." Our churches need to lead a campaign of moral regeneration. Our traditional leaders - Amakhosi ought also to be involved in such a campaign of moral regeneration as well. Our schools ought through the educators to have a programme of moral regeneration. All of us as parents also need to be involved in such a campaign of moral regeneration.
When I was in government we tried to launch the campaign of moral regeneration.
Our then head of State President Mbeki gave the responsibility to lead the campaign of regeneration to the then Deputy President Mr J G Zuma. What followed after this is now history. We need to launch another campaign of moral regeneration in which the whole of our Nation will be involved.
One thing that bothers me when I travel through our predominantly rural Provinces like Mpumalanga, Limpopo, KwaZulu Natal, the Eastern Cape or North West is to see the extent to which our subsistence economy has died. This has compounded our problem of poverty in our rural areas. While our government interventions are welcome through social grants, we cannot address food security in our rural areas unless government assists people to revive that subsistence economy. Never has there been greater need for this and now. Food prices have rocketed. Whereas South Africa was in the past a food exporting country, it is now a net importer of food. This worsens the problem of poverty in our country. And with high unemployment which is now getting worse by day as industries are retrenching workers, it goes without saying that our future is bleak. We need to implement our self-help and self-reliance programmes. The government needs to empower our people to help themselves in order for us to be in a position to have a hand in addressing the gut wrenching poverty that is so prevalent amongst our people.
We also realize that crime has worsened in the past few years. It is sad that all these dragons have grown so large because of the denialism of the government whether it was HIV/AIDS or crime. I tried in the past to influence them to do something about these, but I was just looked at as if I was merely indulging in opposition party politicking. As Minister of Home Affairs in President Mbeki's cabinet I had to ask our then Premier Dr Lionel Mtshali to join the TAC when they sued the government for not making available nevarapine to pregnant mothers. This is medication which is taken by pregnant mothers in order to prevent their babies to being born already infected by the HIV virus.
We had to force them through a Constitutional Court judgement to supply nevarapine to all pregnant mothers throughout South Africa. Before that it was only us in KwaZulu Natal and the Western Cape who bothered at all about this.
The results of Grade 12 are not something to write home about. The OBE curriculum has not been the success that it was projected to be. There is a lot that is wrong with our system of education. There is a lot that government and civil society need to do together to turn our bad education system around.
Corruption is one of the things that have worsened our other problems in this country.
In our service to the people, the IFP will stand by those affected by poverty, unemployment, abuse, crime, violence and other social ills that I have mentioned.
The IFP will not stand aloof as our people suffer, but will work with them, as an expression of compassion and fraternity in providing assistance.
We seek a South Africa in which the potential of every person to a dignified life can be realized within a democratic environment. The people of Mpumalanga can no longer rely on false promises, and reward at the polls those who make the wildest and largest promises.
We heard the promises, and the South African people have extended fifteen years of credit and benefit of the doubt to those who made them. Fifteen years later, the people of Mpumalanga and the rest of our country must now come to terms with the reality of empty promises, failed leadership and breached trust.
It is time to stop corruption and get out of government all those who place their self interests before those of South African people.
Only leaders who genuinely believe in a culture of service can harness the best forces of the South Africa people. I believe strongly that this country is much healthier, stronger, morally righteous, morally clean, energetic and productive than its current political leadership.
Our liberation struggle was about the dream of giving everyone the opportunity of a dignified life, free from fear, need and hopelessness. Let the fulfilment of our liberation not remain a dream; let us turn this dream into a reality.
We are "The Tried and Tested Alternative" because we have indeed been tried and tested over many years in government. And this experience has made us focused on doing what needs to be done and what really works. Our commitment to you, the people of Mpumalanga is to bring real delivery to the people of this province. Let's do it, together! Vote for change!
I thank you.
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