What a privilege it is for me to speak to a gathering of the IFP's women, knowing that you are the strength of the IFP. Every one of you in this room in a leader in your own right, for you have all chosen to represent a political party that serves South Africa. Thus, wherever you go and whatever you do, people are watching to see what the IFP believes and how the IFP does things. It is tempting to say that we have friends and enemies among the people who watch us so closely. But
there is another group of people watching us that are far more important, and that is the group of potential supporters.
I want to thank the IFP Women's Brigade for calling this meeting of women in our Party so that we can look at the political landscape and consider the role of the IFP, and particularly the role of the IFP's women. As you engage this meeting today, I want to encourage you to keep in mind that important group of people "our potential supporters" because doing that will challenge you to expand your reach.
The IFP is not limited to 800 000 voters. We are not limited to the leftovers after the ANC has taken its share, the NFP has taken some, the DA has taken some, COPE has taken some. No, that is the wrong way to think about it. Every political party is fighting for the same space. There is a large pool of potential voters who are undecided or politically uncommitted. There are people waiting for a reason to vote
for a specific party. There are people who would support us, if we give them a good reason.
The wonderful thing about democracy is that no one has to vote for the ruling party, and no one has to vote for the same party at every election. People can change their vote. They can change their allegiance. Over 37 years, the IFP has seen this happen countless times. We have seen people move from the IFP to other political parties, and people coming from other political parties to the IFP. So, there is no reason for us to doubt that the IFP can grow in 2012, in 2013 and, most importantly, in 2014 at the next national election.
But there is also no doubt that the IFP can lose more ground if we don't actively pursue growth. Will the IFP hold its centennial in 2075? Will we look back and celebrate our founding fathers and the mothers of our Party? Will we remember the founding principles of Inkatha yeNkululeko yeSizwe and be able to say that we are still committed to unity, non-violence, equality, self-help, self-reliance and ubuntu botho? I will not be here to see that day. But I am determined to do all I can to ensure that our children will see it. I want to leave them that rich legacy.
That is why, despite wanting to retire in 2004 and 2006, I accepted the unanimous call from Conference to remain at the helm of this Party. It is also the reason I never stepped down when our Party went through the fire of treachery after the 2009 elections, and when the President of the ANC boldly advised me to protect my legacy by stepping down. I remained, even at my age, after all the years I have given, because I cannot leave the IFP less strong than it could be. I know this Party. I know its potential. I know its rightful place in the political arena. It is difficult to walk away when we are not there yet.
I appreciate the resolution of the IFP Women's Brigade to support my leadership through the leadership transition, so that we may have a smooth transition that leaves the IFP stronger and more united. When our National Council asked me to consider continuing to lead through the transition, I knew it would not be an easy decision to make. But, as I consider this request, it is good to know that I have your support, because we must move forward without uncertainty or hesitation.
Our Party is not in limbo. We are not idly waiting for Annual General Conference. Nothing is on hold. Instead, we are powering forwards towards our Conference, with an eye on 2014. I encourage you to look beyond Conference, and even beyond the next elections. Have a long-term vision for the IFP and for your own place within it. There is no finish line, but only a series of goals, because this is not for you, but for the next generation, and the next and the next. The IFP is bigger than an individual personality, and it must continue.
When you choose to represent a political party, you are not taking on a job. It is not a nine to five position, with a salary, that you can leave when a better offer comes along. It is a vocation that must become part of your identity. When you walk through your community, you are not just getting from point A to point B. You are looking for opportunities to serve and uplift. When you speak to people, it's not to catch up on the latest gossip, but to hear their needs and find ways to meet them. Being a leader means living intentionally, knowing that your words, actions, behaviour and attitude are being watched and evaluated.
Let me pause for a moment and point out the obvious. It may seem strange that Young Women's Leadership Political Education is being addressed by a man, and not a young man at that. But, as a leader who has half a century of experience in politics, I have acquired some tools to pass on. I know that as you pick up these tools, you will bring your own talents and temperament to bear, so that you can fill a leadership role in your own right. I won't pretend I can teach you everything. Indeed, by God's own design, there are some things a woman is better equipped to do than a man.
I have always recognised this fact and been careful not to stifle it. Since I founded Inkatha in 1975, I emphasised the role of women in the Party. I invested in women as leaders and promoted women to senior positions. I saw how women were more politically active than men, how most of our supporters were women, and how women mobilised political action more readily. From the start I said that women are the backbone of our Party, and 37 years later you remain the backbone of the IFP.
Of course, I am not alone in recognising how valuable women are to the IFP. Our political opponents have seen the strength of our women and know that this is an effective point of attack. We remember the ANC Women's League singing in the provincial legislature, taunting the IFP for being afraid of a woman. We remember the ANC's Minister of HumanSettlements publically lamenting the IFP's persecution of its women. We remember how the NFP's leader played the victim, pretending to be a woman stifled by patriarchal leadership.
All these lies were aimed at our women; aimed at getting them to doubt the IFP as a home, to doubt the integrity of their leader, to doubt the value of their role within the party. I was deeply saddened by how many of our women believed the lies and perpetuated them. I was sad to see IFP women leave our Party and follow our former Chairperson, out of the IFP, into the NFP and into a coalition with our old nemesis, the African National Congress.
There is still work to be done to heal the wounds inflicted over the past few years on the psyche of our women. Our supporters need to hear, from you, that women are valued in the IFP, that women are leaders, that women are treated equally, that women are heard and heeded, that women drive our vision. That is the message you need to carry in everything you do, so that we can rebuild the truth and strengthen this vital pillar of the IFP.
This message is not just for our supporters. It is a message that needs to reach potential supporters so that they will know the IFP has a place for their own aspirations, their own talents and their own goals. We need to attract women to the IFP using a message that speaks to the heart of women. The IFP believes in family. The IFP believes in equality. The IFP believes in servant leadership. The IFP believes in giving women a voice. The IFP values women. The IFP has a clear vision and is moving forward.
In South African politics, there is another demographic that is becoming more and more important; that is the youth. A large percentage of our population is under 35, many of which are under 15. Political parties know that this is the time to target young people. In the IFP, of course, the attack on our women was coupled with an attack on our youth, for this is the other important pillar of our Party. As we look at growing the IFP, we need to look at attracting young supporters. This is an ever-growing pool of potential voters.
Research, and common sense, tells us that young South Africans are most concerned about education and unemployment. These two issues are part of the IFP's DNA. We have been the champions of education for 37 years. We championed education when the Apartheid Government made Bantu Education a national policy. We championed education when the ANC told students to burn down their schools and delay education until they could vote. We championed education when the ruling Party forced
Outcomes Based Education on schools, and when it abandoned OBE some 12 years later. We championed education when the South African Democratic Teachers' Union called teachers to abandon their classrooms, and when international surveys rated South Africa's education poorly, and when students stormed universities to gain admission in desperation for a better future.
Likewise, the IFP has been the champion of employment generation. We have championed workers' rights. We have pointed out flaws in South Africa's labour legislation. We have taught self-help and self-reliance. We have urged people to take pride in their work and have a sound work ethic. We have established training colleges, many of which were shut down by the ruling Party when they came into power in KwaZulu Natal. And we have insisted that education be paired with skills development, so that school leavers are ready to enter the workforce.
There are countless ways in which the IFP champions the interests of youth and women. But unless people see and hear and experience the IFP, we will not grow. We need to give people a good reason to support the IFP. At the same time, we must realise that every other political party is clamouring to do the same thing. They are all promoting themselves. They are all talking about topical issues.
On that note, let me just say that we as leaders in the IFP need to understand and be part of the current debate, whether it is the youth wage subsidy, a painting of the President, the Mdluli debacle or service delivery protests. Only if we understand the problem, and are seen to understand it, can we find the solution, and be seen as the party with a solution.
So, if everyone is promoting themselves and pursuing support, what makes the IFP a better option than any other party? One of the key principles that set the IFP apart in the political arena is the principle of integrity. This is where other parties are failing, because integrity is not part of their foundational values. The ANC values political hegemony over honesty, thus they can make all sorts of promises they are not able or willing to keep. The NFP values power over integrity, thus they are willing to manipulate the electorate and take their votes to the ANC. The DA values its image so highly that it is willing to spend R70 million on advertising its administration of the Western Cape. The Public Protector has now ruled maladministration against the DA.
But for the IFP, integrity is at the heart of everything we do. I led the KwaZulu Government for 18 years and never once was a single allegation of corruption ever levelled at my administration. Integrity is a core value that I laid at the foundation of the IFP. That is why the IFP has never engaged in the kind of mudslinging we witness from other parties at election time. It is why I declined becoming Deputy President of South Africa, when Mr Jacob Zuma and other ANC leaders
from KwaZulu Natal demanded that I hand over the premiership of KwaZulu Natal to the ANC, when KwaZulu Natal had voted for the IFP.
Integrity is a difficult thing to hold onto in politics. But it is essential. Integrity has allowed me to serve South Africa for 60 years without any qualms of conscience or personal regrets. Whatever I have done, I have done because I believed it to be right for my country, not right for my pocket or my status or my short-term fame. Integrity is a rare commodity in politics. But it is the one principle that attracts people of goodwill more than any other. It has brought people into the IFP who share our vision and our passion. It has earned us a legacy and a unique role, but also a great responsibility.
The responsibility of every leader in this room is to uphold the integrity of the IFP in every word and every action. If you damage the trust people have placed in you, you damage the IFP's reputation. I therefore urge you never to make promises you cannot keep. I urge you always to keep your word; to be where you said you would be, when you said you would be there, and to do what you said you would do. Be honest. Be accountable. Be willing to do what it takes to help, to uplift, to protect, to empower, to equip and to serve. And do it all with integrity.
I want to thank the women of the IFP. You have made me proud time and time again to be the President of this Party. You have shown me your strength and your compassion. You have pulled this Party through many storms. I ask you now to pour your energy into growing the IFP. Get behind the Roadmap Document. Encourage members to renew their membership. Be vocal about the role the IFP plays in South Africa as the guardian of democracy. Let us pursue potential supporters and give them a reason to join the IFP.
When I first founded Inkatha in 1975, we placed great emphasis on political education, teaching our young members our foundational values and the history of the liberation struggle. Today, we don't routinely run political education camps and some of our young members don't know the history of the IFP, why it was founded, how it differed from the ANC, what role it played in the liberation of South Africa, and why its presence is still crucial to our democracy.
I could speak to you today about all these things. But they are all documented. There are speeches and articles and policy documents that you could read to familiarise yourself with the history of the IFP. And I urge you to do that. It is vitally important to your understanding of the party you represent, and to stirring your own passion for the future of the IFP.
I hope that you will engage this Political Education session as a means of self-development. The old saying is true that you will only get out of something as much as you put into it. Don't approach this as just another workshop. Let it be a turning point in your destiny, and the destiny of the IFP.
I thank you, our women leaders.