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zuma not homeboy 'messiah'

By unknown | Feb 06, 2008 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Eric Naki's article, "Zuma is rain in a desert" (January 25) that the IFP's policy and values launch last Wednesday "was a direct reaction to the recent victory by Jacob Zuma in Polokwane to assume the ANC presidency", is plainly wrong.

Eric Naki's article, "Zuma is rain in a desert" (January 25) that the IFP's policy and values launch last Wednesday "was a direct reaction to the recent victory by Jacob Zuma in Polokwane to assume the ANC presidency", is plainly wrong.

Last week's launch was the culmination of more than two years' work in which the party comprehensively audited its electoral strengths and weaknesses.

The launch was part of an offensive, not defensive, strategy to position the IFP, South Africa's second largest predominantly black opposition party, as aprogressive alternative andcounterweight to the ANC.

Nor are we perturbed, as Naki claims, by the fact that Zuma is a traditionalist and a Zulu. In terms of the coming political contest, Zuma is the head of the ANC. One suspects that the "law of diminishing returns" will soon be at work in Zuma's studied appeal to Zulu ethnicity.

The IFP recognises that Zulus have as diverse needs and aspirations as any other constituent group in South Africa.

The over-arching theme of Naki's article is that the IFP is constrained by the fact that, historically, the party derived most of its support from KwaZulu-Natal, though, we have garnered support from across six provinces.

This is one of the reasons why we are going to undertake a clear and uncompromising evaluation of the magnitude and nature of the fundamental challenges facing modern South Africa.

That is why nine policy teams will be travelling the length and breadth of South Africa "to hear", as the Reverend Musa Zondi said, "from the amazing multiplicity of South African voices: the fisherman from Saldanha Bay, the domestic worker from Phoenix and the board manager in Sandton, the job-seekers, students and ordinary South Africans too".

This is hardly the stuff of Zulu nationalism.

This leads me directly to Zuma's record of service delivery in KwaZulu-Natal. Protas Madlala claims "many Zulus, including those in the IFP, see Zuma as a homeboy who has been a victim of a Xhosa conspiracy, and therefore, want to support him.

His election will have an impact in KwaZulu-Natal".

If the stakes were not so high, this would be hysterically funny: "homeboy", "victim of Xhosa conspiracy", "Messiah!"

Please. The people of KwaZulu-Natal have already had a taste of the "messiah" in office.

Zuma served in the IFP-led administration as the provincial MEC for economic affairs and tourism between May 1994 and June 1999.

Strangely, Naki does not specify one notable project that Zuma undertook as MEC, which contributed to the development of the province.

Buthelezi's achievements as chief minister of KwaZulu, by contrast, are legendary. He promoted free enterprise in a province beset by a legacy of structural underdevelopment by establishing a range of developmental institutions such as Ithala, KwaZulu Finance and Investment Corporation, KwaZulu Marketing Initiative, KwaZulu Transport, KwaZulu Training Trust and RSA-KwaZulu Development Initiative.

Manufacturing grew faster in KwaZulu-Natal during this time than anywhere else in South Africa.

Despite Naki's dismissive attempt to specifically locate and limit the party's support in the homeland system, with the advent of democracy, the IFP, against the odds and the pollsters' number crunching, went on to score two election victories.

Faced with a national emergency in January 2002, the IFP premier of KwaZulu-Natal, Lionel Mtshali, instructed by his party, announced that his government would proceed with the roll-out of antiretroviral drugs to prevent the mother-to-child transmission of HIV.

This landmark decision received international coverage, as the national health minister had refused to roll out such a programme and President Thabo Mbeki seemed to refuse to acknowledge the gravity of the pandemic in the world's worst affected country.

Where was Zuma in this saga? Did he support the IFP and the Treatment Action Campaign's tireless promotion of the constitutional right for the women of his home province to have access to life saving drugs?

No, as Mbeki's deputy, he was chairman of the South African National Aids Council and headed up the Moral Regeneration Movement. Farce and tragedy, we recall, followed.

As for Zuma's electoral appeal, interestingly, the article omits to mention that the ANC has yet to win one ward in Nkandla, Zuma's home. His support has not yet been, and still may not be, tested in the country.

As it stands, if Zuma becomes president next year, he will inherit a political landscape blighted by sectional divisions and a nation fatigued by scandal and corruption.

South Africa requires steely political will to take on the challenge posed to our people by poverty, social exclusion, job creation and HIV-Aids and related opportunistic infections.

The IFP frankly does not believe that Zuma and his party, the ANC, can offer that.

Ignoring our detractors, like Naki, the IFP will not stop thinking about tomorrow and the future of our children.

l Zanele Magwaza-Msibi is chairman of the IFP.


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