Velenkosini Hlabisa. Photo: IFP Twitter

Ulundi - South Africa is on the brink of economic collapse, burdened with unethical leadership, and needs rescuing, newly elected Inkatha Freedom Party leader Velenkosini Hlabisa said on Sunday.

"It is common cause that South Africa’s economy has not served the best interests of our people," he said in his acceptance speech at the IFP's 2019 national general conference at the Prince Mangosuthu Regional Stadium in Ulundi this weekend.

The political freedom citizens enjoyed was half baked for it had not translated into economic and social justice. The elaborate plans of government had not worked. "South Africans do not work, we must get South Africa working." 

Freedom without jobs was injustice and indignity. Freedom without opportunity, without accountability was injustice. "When in a free and democratic South Africa there is no impactful change in the material socio-economic conditions of our people, then those that govern are guilty of recycling back into the system the oppression, poverty and indignity of our people that we as the IFP have historically struggled against. 

"We meet at this conference when South Africa has hit rock bottom. Having hit rock bottom, from here South Africa only has one way to go and that is up. But those that got us into this precarious situation are not the ones to get us out. The IFP must strategically position itself, for we are the only credible way out of this mess. We are the party of social and economic justice," Hlabisa said.

The most powerful weapon the IFP had at its disposal at this point was its unity. It was this that "makes our opponents tremble". They knew the IFP was not a small party. In numbers, it was the fourth largest party in the national political landscape.

"In truth, we punch way above our weight. The IFP is known for making timeous interventions in the national discourse, saying what needs to be said, in a rational manner. We change the debate, and we change the spirit of the debate," he said.

In this new season for the IFP, the party would build on that legacy. This would be a time of strategically positioning the IFP at the centre of the political discourse, not through populism or demagoguery, but by bringing the truth into every conversation, at every level.

"Ours is the voice that South Africans can trust. We are trusted to be reasonable, honest, and constructive. We are the voice of social cohesion and national unity. We are the voice of the most vulnerable, and of those who are not heard in the discordant discourse of politics. We must restore trust between people and politics. This means we must be firmly rooted among the people anew, for the people are our masters and we are their servants.

"As we commit to listening to our people, we must also listen to employers, employees, investors and innovators by engaging in a new discussion on the best way forward possible for our country. So we must also move from boardroom to boardroom; workplace to workplace; from big corporates to street vendor, in all sectors," Hlabisa said.

"The discussions and engagements we have should act as an indication of an IFP preparing and readying itself to govern. We are a government in waiting. We are the only credible and viable alternative."

He called on all those that loved South Africa to join hands in partnership with the IFP to fix that which was broken in the country, and to strengthen that which was functional. Those who hate hatred, who stand against racism and tribalism; the IFP is your home. Those that want South Africa to grow and prosper; partner with the IFP. 

"My invitation goes out to all South Africans, black, white, Indian, and coloured." 

"The IFP is the home of all; the Xhosas, the Pedis, the Vendas, the Zulus, the Afrikaners, the Ndebeles, the Tswanas and the Sothos. The IFP is the home of diversity, and the paragon of national unity and social cohesion," Hlabisa said.

He also paid tribute to outgtoinjg veteran IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi. "We are able still to draw on his wisdom, to seek his advice and to tap his considerable wealth of experience, to find the right way forward in what lies ahead. We are deeply grateful that he has expressed his willingness to serve in whatever capacity conference chooses," Hlabisa said.

African News Agency/ANA