Christmas function for senior citizens from vulnerable communities hosted by Noncedo Nkqintamo Adult Care and HIV/AIDS centre.

Message of goodwill
Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP
President of the Inkatha Freedom party.
Langa: 3 December 2015

Politicians are always speaking to the youth. Somehow we think that the best ideas come from young people, as though they know better which direction we should walk in. But I know the wisdom of talking to the elderly, of listening to those with much life experience. I know that people who are further on life’s journey have great ideas about the future. We are not always looking to the past. We are concerned with what will happen in the next generation, even if we ourselves will not be there to witness it.

I am therefore honoured to visit the Noncedo Nkqintamo Adult Care and HIV/Aids Centre, to share with senior citizens from various communities an early celebration of Christmas. I come with ears ready to listen and a heart that is open to receive your wisdom, concerns and even criticism. I want to know how you are and how the IFP can help to improve your quality of life.

The IFP values all people, young or old, black, white or coloured, rich or poor, unemployed or working, educated or not. No matter where you come from, or where you call home, you have a contribution to make to the wellbeing of our country. Your voice is important and your contribution is valuable. The IFP understands that South Africa needs its senior citizens.

As an octogenarian, I am well aware that life affords us lessons that no school can teach. We make mistakes and we learn. We face decisions that change the course of our lives. We mend fences, and burn bridges. We build relationships, raise families, and make our mark in this world. Sometimes it’s a small mark. But it’s still made. We cannot walk through this life without leaving footprints. Some of you may remember my late colleague in the IFP, the Hon. Mr Ben Skosana, who visited Noncedo Nkqintamo Centre in November 2013 to celebrate Grandparents’ Day with you. Sadly, Mr Skosana passed away in February last year, but his footprints are still visible in places like this where he spread the message of the IFP. That message is one of hope, genuine care, and service.

You see, the IFP believes that political parties are here to serve you, not the other way around. It annoys me when I see politicians bussing people in to attend big events, just for a show of numbers. Often, when the event is over, people are left stranded with no transport home. They were being used to prove how popular a political leader is.

That is not the way the IFP does things. We know that the real work of community wellbeing is accomplished by people like Ms Noncedo Nkqintamo; people of goodwill who accept responsibility for making a difference in the lives of others. It’s not about tenders and big rallies. It’s about supporting individual people who are serving in their communities.

Because of this, the IFP is proud to come alongside Ms Nkqintamo, and support her as far as we can. The work she is doing in Langa, and elsewhere, is commendable. We need her to keep serving you, and we long to see her equipped with all she needs to make this Centre a point of overwhelming success.

However, the IFP is limited in what it can do. We are a party that believes in self-help and self-reliance, in teaching people and empowering them to look after themselves. The lion’s share of our funding comes from membership fees, which are just R10 a year. So we do not have large resources at our disposal. What we do have, is experience of partnerships and the great things that can be achieved when we take hands with the right people.

One of the reasons we support the Noncedo Nkqintamo Adult Care and HIV/Aids Centre is its tenacity in pursuing its goal of improving the quality of life for vulnerable people. The temptation to give up must be great, faced as we all are with rising food prices, growing bureaucracy and corruption, and a lack of transparency in governance. But Ms Nkqintamo has not given up. She keeps working and serving and giving. She is among the quiet heroes who make South Africa great.

Today, I want to publically thank Ms Noncedo Nkqintamo for faithfully serving her community. I know that she works not only with the elderly, but with street children, abused women, those who are struggling with HIV/Aids, and anyone facing difficult circumstances. Our Christmas function today in fact dovetails with the national campaign of 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children, and follows the worldwide commemoration of Aids Day, on 1 December.

It is good to have specific dates set aside to highlight these issues of HIV/Aids, violence and abuse. The fact is that many of us are dealing with the daily reality of a child who is HIV positive, or a grandchild who is being abused, or a family member who is a victim of violence. People still don’t talk about these things as openly as we should. We need to expose them, so that they will stop.

As a father, I can tell you of my grief when I buried two of my children who had succumbed to HIV/Aids. I lost both a son and a daughter to this disease. I can tell you that sickness doesn’t respect anyone. It doesn’t discriminate between the have and the have-nots. But it is far more difficult to face sickness when you also face poverty, and inefficient health services.

Things are not as they should be. Clinics and hospitals are not well funded, and people have to wait far too long for the care they need. Indeed, many of the services which government is constitutionally responsible for providing are not working as they should. I think for instance of the grant system.

The IFP was the first to provide a social grant when we administered the KwaZulu Government under apartheid. We know that many people rely almost completely on a social grant. The sad reality is that the elderly are feeding grandchildren and supporting adult children on their old age grant. It is a lifeline for many, particularly as food prices just climb and climb.

But there is fraud in the social grant system, and a lack of transparency. I know of people not getting the full amount at times, and there is no one to hold accountable or ask why. We are at the mercy of a flawed system. What we need is leaders who are accessible; people whose door you can knock on, or who you can call at any time of day or night; people who will listen and act.

It is wrong that most of us don’t know who our local councillor is, and haven’t a clue how to contact them if we need a question answered. Your councillor is your first point of contact with a government that is mandated to serve you. You need to be able to trust them, contact them, and know that you will get results. You need to know that they respect you, and respect the job they have been given to serve you.

I want to invite you to put the right local councillors into place so that you can begin a partnership with people who understand how it should be done. In just a few months’ time, there will be another Local Government Election and you will be asked to cast your vote. You are free to vote for whoever you want. This is not a two horse race between the DA and the ANC. There are other options; better options.

The best among them, I believe, is the IFP. We have a forty year track record for you to consider. We are a voice of reason and unity in a very divisive political landscape. We are servants of the people, and we believe in empowering you. We understand our responsibilities. We run a tight ship and are known for clean governance. We talk solutions, not politics. We are here for you.

So I ask you to think about the IFP in the months ahead, and consider the change that can be made in your community by installing a leader who is accessible, trustworthy, and backed by a party that serves. I look forward to creating a partnership in 2016. The time is right for the Western Cape to choose differently.

Let me thank you again for inviting me to share this celebration. I know that some of you have travelled quite far, and I hope that this celebration is all that you expected it to be. As we enter the festive season, we should celebrate all that is good and worthy. We should celebrate our years of life, and the hope that still lies ahead. I wish each of you a blessed Christmas, health, happiness and good cheer.