'Beware of riots and dictatorship'

Mhlaba Memela

Mhlaba Memela

Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) president Mangosuthu Buthelezi has warned of widespread riots similar to those in countries such as Egypt and Indonesia if the government fails to fight poverty.

"The consequences for our already fragile national unity, as I recently said in the presidency budget vote, are simply too terrible to comprehend," he said at the party's provincial conference at the Hexagon Theatre in Pietermaritzburg.

"I have been warning about the extreme poverty in our rural areas, which has been worsening since we achieved our political freedom in 1994.

"I have constantly lamented the death of our rural subsistence economy. My worry was food security.

"Failure to find solutions quickly will, I fear, result in the widespread rioting and looting that we have witnessed in countries such as Egypt and Indonesia."

Buthelezi urged his party leaders to work tirelessly to ensure that they win back the KwaZulu-Natal from the ANC in the elections next year.

He said while the ANC in the province might have huge budgets, "most of them do not have the faintest idea what to do with those billions".

"The ANC provincial government just doesn't know what to do," Buthelezi said.

"They are completely out of their depth."

He also warned that if the huge electoral gap between the opposition and ANC is not closed the country will slide into dictatorship.

"The general election, just eight months away, will be make-or-break time for multiparty democracy in the new South Africa.

"If the IFP and other opposition parties do not close the gap numerically with the ruling party, we are in danger of moving to a de facto elective dictatorship," he said.

Buthelezi said the opposition needs muscle to take on the ANC.

"At present they have free rein to do what they like. We have a real crisis of leadership on our hands.

"Let us be absolutely clear about this when we campaign ahead of the elections around the province and the country," Buthelezi said.

IFP delegates re-elected Mntomuhle Khawula as provincial chairman, Blessed Gwala, deputy, Bongi Nkosi Buthelezi, secretary, Mziwamandla Mzobe, deputy, Narend Singh treasurer, Satishrai Branprakash and S'busiso Nkwanyana.