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Buthelezi on his legacy

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In this present moment of South Africa's history, as the ANC stands poised again to impose a President on our country, and as every assessment, survey, index and report confirms what we already know - that South Africa's leadership is failing - the IFP must fulfil its role. Our role now is not that different from the role we have played for 37 years, under diverse circumstances. In the time ahead, we must remain the voice of reason. We were the voice of reason refusing so-called independence for KwaZulu, when the nationalist regime sought "separate development" and the loss of citizenship for millions of black South Africans.

Thirty five years ago, Inkatha was the voice of reason in the midst of the ANC's campaign to make South Africa ungovernable. We built 6 schools, while the ANC encouraged young people to burn them down. Thirty three years ago, Inkatha was the voice of reason speaking out against economic sanctions, the campaign of disinvestment, and an armed struggle that would wash our country in blood, while the ANC's mission-in-exile shaped a new daily hardship for our people.

Twenty nine years ago, Inkatha was the voice of reason calling for the end of the ANC's People's War that was claiming the lives of hundreds of innocent people. Twenty two years ago we were the voice of reason refusing to allow a democratic dispensation to be negotiated bi-laterally without the presence and contribution of every political representative. Twenty years ago, we were the voice of reason insisting that a Bill of Rights be contained in our democratic Constitution, and that provinces be given autonomy so that the people could finally govern from the bottom up. Eighteen years ago, the IFP was the voice of reason, insisting that labour legislation be designed to allow maximum flexibility in the labour market, to ensure that both employment and productivity would flourish in the new South Africa.

Ten years ago, the IFP was the voice of reason calling on Government to roll out anti-retrovirals to all pregnant women to prevent HIV transmission to their new-born babies, just as we were doing in KwaZulu Natal. Five years ago, the IFP was the voice of reason warning that corruption was rotting our country like a fish, from the head. This year, we have been the voice of reason calling for a debate of no confidence in the leadership of our country's President, because undelivered textbooks, teachers' strikes, Marikana, tenderpreneurship, scandal, corruption and a failing state are not what we fought a liberation struggle to achieve.

South Africa is in a terrible state. Our politics is deeply troubled by power-plays and self-enrichment. Our economy is wracked by recession and inappropriate policy. Our society is burdened by poverty, criminality and unemployment. Our people suffer the daily indignities that accompany poor service delivery, and the daily loss of hope that accompanies empty promises.

We are still a country of inequalities. This is not the country we struggled for years to reach. And the ANC of today is not the liberation movement of There is a nexus; for the further the ANC moves from its founding principles to become this party of corruption, self-enrichment and self-interest, the further South Africa will move from being a country of freedom, unity and hope.

We were born of the same founding principles that birthed the ANC in , but we remained true to those principles as the ANC began to take a different route. As the ANC has evolved into a massively rich, massively selfish machine for the elite, the IFP has stayed true to the founding principles of the liberation struggle.

Thus, as our struggle continues, the IFP carries the true legacy of liberators and freedom fighters. Within the IFP, all that was good about the past continues, and all that is good for the future remains. But as we stand, facing the crisis of our nation and the fullness of our responsibility as the voice of reason, the IFP must carve out space to decide on its own way forward.

This is that time.

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This conference is the opportunity for the IFP to secure our footing on the road ahead, for the sake of our nation, for the sake of our Party and for the sake of redirecting our struggle towards genuine freedom for all South Africans. Friends, we have faced a very turbulent time.

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The fact that we are meeting only now, when we should by rights have met in , is a clear indication of the troubles we have faced since the last national elections in our country. I want to remind us of the words of former President Nelson Mandela, who admitted in public in that the ANC has pursued an agenda of destroying the IFP ever since , when the ANC first abandoned the principle of non-violence and found that Inkatha would not follow suit.

Mandela said, "We have used every ammunition to destroy Buthelezi , but we failed. And he is still there. He is a formidable survivor. We cannot ignore him. I am reminding us of those words today, for it would be a serious miscalculation on our part if we supposed that the plot of the ANC against the IFP is a thing of the past. In other words, we cannot set aside our goal, believing that Buthelezi no longer poses a threat to the ANC. There is no question in anyone's mind that the IFP still poses a threat to the ruling Party.

While journalists and analysts, often for suspect reasons, like to pen the premature obituary of the IFP, the ANC has never written us off. The plan that they hatched to finally destroy the IFP after caused chaos in our midst. Let us remember the events of the past three years; not to cry over spilt milk, but to remind ourselves afresh that the opposition we have faced for 37 years is not about to diminish as we enter the third decade of democracy.

The road ahead for the IFP is not going to be easier. We have remembered the events of the last three years. Confronted with the evidence of the ANC's involvement in the ructions, I did not remain silent.

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No one in the leadership of the ANC, not even the President himself, contradicted my accusations in Parliament, beyond some howling from the benches and the President taking exception to my speaking so frankly about a conversation he deemed private between the two of us. When I think back now to that conversation, I marvel that the President has not taken his own advice, considering the depth of divisions within his own party over his own leadership.

I did not take the President's advice because, as I explained to him, my Party elected me and my Party retains the prerogative to ask me to stay or leave. That is for you to decide.

The consolidation of white rule in Southern Africa

That decision will be made here, in this venue, today. Today, all those gathered in this marquee will decide the fate of the IFP. Let me tell you in no uncertain terms; those are the options. The IFP is not going to fade away. We are either going to become dramatically stronger, or dramatically weaker, based on the result of today's election. The results of by-elections since May clearly tell us that the people of South Africa want the IFP to return in strength in Support for our Party is growing again.

They have been coming to the polls in impressive numbers, and casting their votes for the IFP. The unequivocal message is that the people want the IFP to return. They want the IFP to come back stronger. Since May , we have won by-elections in Mtubatuba, in Ulundi and in Nongoma, where we increased our percentage of the vote.

In September we won in Nongoma and increased our percentage of the vote. In November, we again increased our share of the vote in Nqutu. That is the kind of support the IFP is getting. There is no mistaking the message from the electorate, that the IFP is wanted, needed and supported. We are back on an upward path. For this, I want to thank the people in this marquee. Thank you for keeping faith with the IFP through the turbulent times of the past three years. Thank you for not being led astray by promises of tenders, jobs and money.


Thank you, too, for embracing the Roadmap strategy, and for supporting this blueprint for our future. Thank you for mobilising our supporters and for getting the message of truth out to our people, to contradict the many lies against us. Thank you for ensuring the IFP's survival and for placing us again on an upward path.

Your hard work and commitment to the IFP has not gone unnoticed. You are the true heroes and heroines of the IFP story. Ours is a story that has been written over 37 years, through great hardship, danger, sorrow and loss. It is written in the words of lives; lives lost, but also lives transformed. For through all the hardship that has accompanied South Africa's story, the IFP has brought hope and help into countless homes.

I am intensely proud of the IFP's legacy. I have walked through our country in all these years, meeting the people we serve and taking their hand so that together we could build and grow and develop. I have seen destitute mothers empowered to grow food for their families. I have seen young people equipped with skills through the education and training institutions built by the IFP. Even today, I hear from South Africans who write to thank me for what we did ten, twenty and thirty years ago, because it changed their lives.

I have seen breadwinners start businesses with the financial assistance of the KwaZulu Finance Corporation, which we established here when no one else would lend money to impoverished people.

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