Buthelezi pleads for free, fair 2009 poll

Canaan Mdletshe

Canaan Mdletshe

Mangosuthu Buthelezi says South Africa, despite being Africa's economic and political powerhouse, has not been a good example to a continent blighted by electoral fraud and intimidation.

The IFP leader hopes next year's elections in South Africa will be free and fair.

He said his party had been a victim of electoral fraud since 1994.

"Thousands of boxes containing IFP votes were scattered all over the valleys and hills of northern KwaZulu-Natal, never to reach their destination where counting took place.

"No wonder former president FW de Klerk described our first democratic election as 'impressionist'. I thought that was too kind," Buthelezi said.

He said that this pattern was repeated at the 1996 local government elections.

"Elections were held in KwaZulu-Natal a year later than the rest of the country to enable the ANC to concentrate its national resources in KwaZulu-Natal, which stubbornly remained outside of the ambit of the ruling party," he said.

Buthelezi said that fraud against the IFP in the 1999 poll was documented and presented to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).

But the IEC took the strange position that there was nothing it could do because the relevant deadlines had lapsed.

He said the 2004 elections were also characterised by widespread electoral fraud in KwaZulu-Natal.

Buthelezi said the IFP documented the irregularities at the Electoral Court, but it could not pursue the case because of "narrowly defined technicalities".

"I recount this sorry saga not to fight old battles, but in the hope that we ensure that the 2009 elections are free and fair.

"This is of importance not only to the vitality of our democracy, but also to the continent. I plead that this will not be said of us in 2009. Let our leaders execute their responsibilities in accordance with the spirit of all South Africans who love democracy," Buthelezi urged.