In Celebration of Human Rights Day 2024 and the 49th Anniversary of the Founding of the IFP

Mar 21, 2024 | Press Releases

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My fellow South Africans; the celebration of Human Rights’ Day in 2024 is unique in many ways. For the first time since the dawn of our democracy, we stand on the brink of fundamental change in the political landscape of South Africa.

Just as we did in 1994, in 2024 we will queue at voting stations across our country and use the power of our vote to install a new leadership into Government. Those who have failed us will be removed, and those whom we trust will become our elected representatives.

There is cause for massive celebration as we commemorate Human Rights’ Day in 2024.

For the IFP, this day has always had added meaning, because on this day in 1975, Inkatha yeNkululeko yeSizwe was founded. On 21 March 1975, a group of committed patriots and freedom fighters gathered at KwaNzimela to reignite the struggle for liberation on South African soil.

It is right that we remember the founding of Inkatha, and that we celebrate the foundations of our Party, for we walk today on the shoulders of giants. The work we do is not our own, but is theirs, just as the work of tomorrow’s champions of democracy will rightfully be ours. Each generation takes forward the work of the one before, for we are working, not as individuals, but as one force for good on the basis of one vision.

I am proud today to take forward the vision of uMntwana waKwaPhindangene, the founder of the IFP, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi. Prince Buthelezi led this Party for 44 years. In 2019, having given his life to the service of our nation, he placed the mantle of leadership onto my shoulders, confident that the IFP had chosen a leader who would honour his legacy.

He continued to walk with us, providing his wisdom, his guidance and his unwavering integrity, as we positioned the IFP for the next chapter of the story. He understood that this story is not the story of Mangosuthu Buthelezi. It is not even the story of the IFP. It is the story of South Africa.

Inkatha was born to take this story in the right direction, and for 49 years we have succeeded. We have given to South Africa a powerful voice for truth, democracy, peace and freedom. We have been the voice of human rights; the voice of honest leadership; the voice of social justice. The IFP is the voice of every South African who seeks what is best of our country, collectively – not at anyone’s cost, but with everyone’s contribution.

Today, as we commemorate Human Rights’ Day, let us remember the IFP’s role in writing this story.

It is easy to assume that the protection of human rights was a natural outcome of our democratic victory in 1994. Surely a government of the majority would never abuse human rights. But for those who understand the maxim that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely, the value of putting safeguards in place is paramount.

Even before democracy, Madiba spoke of the possibility that a majority government could become corrupt. It was not inconceivable. We have all heard that he 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”.

As we stood on the threshold of democracy, however, it was not good enough to hope that a majority party would never fail its obligation to uphold human rights. That is why, when we went to the negotiating table before 1994, the IFP insisted that a list of all human rights be contained in our country’s Constitution.

Surprisingly, the IFP was the only voice at the negotiating table calling for a Bill of Rights. The ANC and the National Party Government were focussed exclusively on the transfer of power: how it would be done, when it would be done, and who would lose out. The IFP alone was concerned with what the future South Africa would look like, how it would treat its people, and how it would meet all needs.

We insisted, therefore, that the form of State be discussed. Would power be held at the top in the hands of a few, as the ANC wanted; or would the power of governance be devolved into the hands of the people through a federal system of governance?

It was the IFP that eventually secured the creation of Provinces in South Africa. It is because of the IFP that KwaZulu-Natal exists at all, with its own Provincial Government and its own Provincial Legislature.

We won a second fight too, because we won the fight to include a Bill of Rights in South Africa’s Constitution. The ANC wanted people just to accept that an ANC Government would treat everyone fairly if they were given power. But the IFP insisted that fair treatment be defined in the founding document of a democratic South Africa.

The democratic compact between Government and the people it serves has been defined in the Constitution, because of the IFP. It is therefore correct to say that the IFP is the champion of human rights.

We then went a step further. Prince Buthelezi, in his capacity as the first democratic Minister of Home Affairs, was given the task of proposing public holidays. He recommended to Cabinet that the 21st of March be set aside to commemorate Sharpeville, honouring the innocent lives that were lost in 1960 when apartheid’s security opened fire on members of the Pan Africanist Congress who were protesting the ‘dompas’.

Prince Buthelezi recommended that this day be known as Human Rights’ Day, honouring the right to free movement, the right to human dignity, the right to life, the right to freedom of association, the right to freedom of expression, the right to equality and the right to be protected from harm.

Every year, when we celebrate Human Rights’ Day, we are celebrating the IFP’s influence in securing, and preserving, a country in which rights are respected. This is part of the IFP’s legacy, and it is a legacy that we proudly celebrate on the 21st of March.

For the IFP, human rights are at the centre of everything we do. We have been serving South Africa for almost fifty years because of our commitment to creating a country in which everyone is treated justly, fairly and equitably, on the basis of their needs, so that every South Arican will have the opportunity to fulfil their highest aspirations.

We have been doing this work through our governance of KwaZulu from 1975 to 1994, through our role in the Government of National Unity from 1994 to 1999, from our positions in Cabinet until 2004, from our governance of KwaZulu-Natal from 1994 to 2004, from our positions in Parliament and in the Provincial Legislatures for 30 years, and from our leadership in the municipalities of South Africa since municipalities were first established.

The IFP is a known quantity in this country, and we are well known throughout Africa and in many parts of the world because of the battle we have waged for freedom, democracy and human rights.

Throughout Africa, for instance, the IFP is lauded as having turned the tide on the HIV/Aids pandemic in 2002. We protected the right to life, and forced national government to do the same.

At that time, the HIV/Aids pandemic was a deadly crisis throughout Southern Africa. KwaZulu-Natal had the highest prevalence of transmissions, yet South Africa’s Government was in its period of Aids denialism. Our Head of State was publicly claiming no link between HIV and Aids, while his Minister of Health was advocating the African Potato, garlic and beetroot as a remedy. Hundred of thousands of lives were lost because government was led by the ANC.

The Government of KwaZulu-Natal, however, was led by the IFP. The electorate had voted for a leadership they could trust. Our IFP Premier, Dr LHPM Mtshali, undertook to find the most effective treatment for HIV, and to roll it out to everyone who needed it.

What he learned was that a single dose of the antiretroviral drug, Nevirapine, administered to a mother just before giving birth, and then to her newborn baby, effectively stopped mother-to-child transmission of HIV/Aids.

Immediately, the IFP’s Government rolled out Nevirapine to all clinics across KwaZulu-Natal. It was free, it was accessible, and it worked. The tide was turned on the HIV/Aids pandemic, and today the outcome of this single intervention is lauded as South Africa’s greatest success story in the fight against Aids.

But the ANC’s Government would not follow suit. Their MEC for Health in KwaZulu-Natal, Mr Zweli Mkhize, actually took our Premier to court, trying to stop him from instructing the roll out of antiretrovirals. But the Premier’s authority was upheld.

Then the ANC declared in the Constitutional Court that it was impossible to roll out antiretrovirals on a large scale. They claimed that it couldn’t be done, absolving them from the responsibility of doing it.

But the IFP was doing it in KwaZulu-Natal, the hardest hit province for HIV/Aids; and we were doing it efficiently with spectacular results. Our Premier was able to join the Constitutional Court case and present evidence that it was not only possible to save lives, it was already being done by the IFP.

On that basis, the ConCourt was able to instruct the ANC Government to do nationally what the IFP was doing in KwaZulu-Natal. They were forced to comply with their constitutional obligation to save lives.

That is but one example of how the IFP has honoured human rights and given the example of what a government of integrity can do for South Africa. There are many examples, for the stalwarts and leaders who have made the IFP great for 49 years all have their stories to tell.

I think particularly of IFP women, of Mrs Eileen ka Nkosi Shandu, Ms Thoko Zungu, Mrs Ella Nxasane, Mrs Abbie Mchunu, Mrs Sibongile Bhengu-Nene, Mrs Faith Xolile Gasa, and Prince Buthelezi’s own mother, Princess Magogo kaDinuzulu, the sister of King Solomon.

These women mobilised support for the liberation struggle. But they were also standing arm in arm with the most vulnerable in our communities, teaching women about cooperatives and initiating communal projects like vegetables gardens, creches and sewing groups. Thousands upon thousands of families were helped.

I think of the schools Inkatha built to counter apartheid’s imposition of Bantu Education. We built more schools in KwaZulu before 1994 than exist in the province of KwaZulu-Natal even today.

Tragically, human rights are no longer honoured by Government. We were right to put safeguards in place. I think again of the words of Madiba, when the ANC first began to show signs of corruption. Madiba openly told a group of international journalists (and I quote): “Little did we suspect that our own people, when they got a chance, would be as corrupt as the apartheid regime. That is one of the things that has really hurt us.

After 25 years of ANC rule, the fundamental principle of equality has been broken. South Africa today is one of the most unequal societies in the world. Moreover, we are not all equal before the law. Powerful political leaders are not held to the same standard as ordinary citizens. In fact, leaders in our country have been implicated in State Capture, but – instead of being prosecuted – they are being fielded again for positions of power.

Where is the right to human dignity, to life, to security and freedom from violence, when Government fails to protect its citizens? Where is the right to education, when the ANC’s Outcomes Based Education has failed our children so despicably that adequate performance must be set at a mere 30%?

Where is the right to freedom of trade, occupation and profession, when there are no jobs to be found in the first place? Our economy has been destroyed by the ANC.

Even the right to freedom of expression is curtailed by the ruling Party, if one is expressing criticism. Just ask His Majesty the King, whose own traditional Prime Minister was publicly chastised, in front of iSilo and in front of the President of the country, by the ANC’s Provincial Chairperson, because the Prime Minister dared to point out an incident of disrespect towards iSilo.

This happened at a Government event, organised to commemorate the 110th anniversary of the passing of His Majesty King Dinuzulu, in KwaCeza last weekend. His Majesty’s Amabutho took umbrage at the ANC Chairperson’s insulting behaviour, but the event proceeded.

After the event, however, it was reported that some ANC supporters were allegedly assaulted. Immediately, the ANC and the ANC Women’s League issued statements blaming the IFP and claiming that the IFP had attacked their members. We are still trying to understand how the IFP was dragged into this matter, when it was not an IFP event and no one was wearing IFP regalia.

We are of the view that what happened in KwaCeza must be handled with great care and responsible behaviour. We noted the media briefing held by the ANC KwaZulu-Natal PEC, where they indicated that the position of the Prime Minister of the Zulu Monarch and Nation has no legal standing, as a result they do not recognise it in government functions. This was unfortunate as the Prime Minister of the Zulu Monarch and Nation is appointed by the King.

It is interesting though that President Ramaphosa does and did recognise the Prime Minister of the Zulu Monarch and Nation even during the event.

The President of the ANC has responded in public on the KwaCeza incidence and said that the ANC and IFP will meet to discuss it.

Friends, the IFP will not be dragged into politicking ahead of the 29 May elections.

The IFP’s support is growing and we will not allow anyone to divert our attention. Any attempt to hold back the IFP’s resurgence is like trying to stop a tsunami. The force behind this wave is the call for a leadership of integrity. That call comes from the electorate, and it will not be stopped.

Perhaps the right we should honour today is the right of every South African to be represented by leaders of our own choosing; leaders who put service above politicking, and people above power.

The IFP is the Party you can trust. We are the champion of human rights and the hope of South Africa. Let us take this legacy forward on 29 May. Let us VOTE IFP!

I thank you.

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