Ulundi - It is time to change the power dynamic in South Africa and to topple from power those who abuse their positions, Inkatha Freedom Party leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi said on Sunday.
"As you go to your voting station and make your mark on the ballot paper [on May 8], take a moment to imagine what your vote will create. It may well be the tipping point that gives the numbers to the IFP, restoring to this province a leadership of integrity. Your vote can change everything," he told thousand's of supporters at the IFP's final election rally in Ulundi in Northern KwaZulu-Natal.
"Throughout this campaign I have spoken to people from all walks of life, in every community, from the rich to the poor, from learners to pensioners, from the unemployed to captains of industry. I noticed that no matter who we are or what we earn or where we live, South Africans share a common hope for the future. We all want justice," he said.
Justice had been denied for far too long. Not justice in the courts and judges, but fairness, equal opportunity, and respected rights. As much as the Constitution enshrined these principles, they had not translated into social justice and economic justice for the people of South Africa. The reason for this was very simple. Those who were entrusted to implement these principles lost their way.
Corruption took root in the governing African National Congress. It was ignored and allowed to fester. And by the time it erupted full blown into public view, the worst of the damage had already been done. Government was riddled with corruption. The results were there for everyone to see. Broken promises. Broken systems. Economic collapse, and crisis, Buthelezi said.
"When we speak of international ratings agencies, foreign investment, and debt to GDP, we are talking about things that directly affect you. What happens at macro level affects every South African because it translates into price hikes, job losses, closed doors, longer queues, and fading hope.
"When we hear about looting of state coffers and abuse of power, what we are really hearing is the word 'no'. No, there is no money for free education. No, you won’t be getting an RDP house. No, there is no work for you. No, you cannot access funding. No, the door is closed; because someone else is lining their pocket at your expense, and they’re doing it from a position of power," he said.
It was time then to change the power dynamic and to topple from power those who abused their positions. It was time to clean house at the highest levels, because "this is our house". It did not belong to politicians and cadres. It belonged to the people. If those elected abused the people's mandate, they needed to be removed.
In 1993 former president Nelson Mandela said, “If the ANC does to you what the apartheid government did to you, then you must do to the ANC what you did to the apartheid government.” Madiba himself told people “feel free to criticise us for the mistakes that we have committed”. He urged South Africans to “be critical, to be alert, to be vigilant” because power had a tendency to corrupt.
Madiba knew what would happen if the ANC lost its way, and he knew that it might happen. But years down the line when the leadership of the ANC had shifted from Mandela to Jacob Zuma, "we were no longer being warned against corruption".
"We were being sold a lie about a good story. 'There is a good story to tell,' the president [Zuma] told us, when all along corruption was eating away at the heart of his party," Buthelezi said.
"We need to act. We need to take back our power and change the narrative. There is no evidence at all that the [ANC] will self-correct. In the face of gross malfeasance and corruption, there has been no reaction. They just keep going; business as usual. So it is left to us to do what is needed. It is up to us to save South Africa," he said.
"I urge you therefore to take very seriously the power that you have on May the 8th. Use it by going to vote, and use it wisely by voting for the IFP. It is not just about removing a failed leadership. It’s about getting the right leaders into government. We need to do more than register our discontent. We need to change the story," Buthelezi said.