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In other words, we cannot set aside our goal, believing that Buthelezi no longer poses a threat to the ANC. There is no question in anyone's mind that the IFP still poses a threat to the ruling Party. While journalists and analysts, often for suspect reasons, like to pen the premature obituary of the IFP, the ANC has never written us off. The plan that they hatched to finally destroy the IFP after caused chaos in our midst. Let us remember the events of the past three years; not to cry over spilt milk, but to remind ourselves afresh that the opposition we have faced for 37 years is not about to diminish as we enter the third decade of democracy.

The road ahead for the IFP is not going to be easier. We have remembered the events of the last three years. Confronted with the evidence of the ANC's involvement in the ructions, I did not remain silent. No one in the leadership of the ANC, not even the President himself, contradicted my accusations in Parliament, beyond some howling from the benches and the President taking exception to my speaking so frankly about a conversation he deemed private between the two of us.

When I think back now to that conversation, I marvel that the President has not taken his own advice, considering the depth of divisions within his own party over his own leadership. I did not take the President's advice because, as I explained to him, my Party elected me and my Party retains the prerogative to ask me to stay or leave. That is for you to decide. That decision will be made here, in this venue, today. Today, all those gathered in this marquee will decide the fate of the IFP.

Let me tell you in no uncertain terms; those are the options. The IFP is not going to fade away. We are either going to become dramatically stronger, or dramatically weaker, based on the result of today's election. The results of by-elections since May clearly tell us that the people of South Africa want the IFP to return in strength in Support for our Party is growing again.

They have been coming to the polls in impressive numbers, and casting their votes for the IFP. The unequivocal message is that the people want the IFP to return. They want the IFP to come back stronger. Since May , we have won by-elections in Mtubatuba, in Ulundi and in Nongoma, where we increased our percentage of the vote. In September we won in Nongoma and increased our percentage of the vote. In November, we again increased our share of the vote in Nqutu. That is the kind of support the IFP is getting.

There is no mistaking the message from the electorate, that the IFP is wanted, needed and supported. We are back on an upward path. For this, I want to thank the people in this marquee. Thank you for keeping faith with the IFP through the turbulent times of the past three years.

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Thank you for not being led astray by promises of tenders, jobs and money. Thank you, too, for embracing the Roadmap strategy, and for supporting this blueprint for our future. Thank you for mobilising our supporters and for getting the message of truth out to our people, to contradict the many lies against us. Thank you for ensuring the IFP's survival and for placing us again on an upward path. Your hard work and commitment to the IFP has not gone unnoticed.

You are the true heroes and heroines of the IFP story. Ours is a story that has been written over 37 years, through great hardship, danger, sorrow and loss. It is written in the words of lives; lives lost, but also lives transformed. For through all the hardship that has accompanied South Africa's story, the IFP has brought hope and help into countless homes. I am intensely proud of the IFP's legacy.

I have walked through our country in all these years, meeting the people we serve and taking their hand so that together we could build and grow and develop. I have seen destitute mothers empowered to grow food for their families. I have seen young people equipped with skills through the education and training institutions built by the IFP. Even today, I hear from South Africans who write to thank me for what we did ten, twenty and thirty years ago, because it changed their lives.

I have seen breadwinners start businesses with the financial assistance of the KwaZulu Finance Corporation, which we established here when no one else would lend money to impoverished people. I have seen teachers supported and families held together. I have seen one generation after the next take up the cause of the IFP, not because it was the party of their parents, but because it is their own Party. The IFP serves the needs of today. I have also seen legislation amended, bills being opposed, policy created and skilful debate within the National Assembly, in our Legislatures and the National Council of Provinces.

I have seen small victories being won in municipal councils, and great victories being won at the national level. I remember the IFP giving our country provinces.

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I remember the IFP taking Government to court, and winning. It has thus been painful for me to grapple with the needs of the Party, as I entered the twilight of my life, for anyone who has done and seen and served as much as I have, for as long as I have, surely deserves to rest. It has been my intention for several years to retire and to hand the Party over to a younger leadership. You will recall that twice I announced my intention to retire, at our Conferences of and But twice our Party unanimously called on me to remain.

I serve at the behest of the Party and thus I remained. In , knowing that I intended to retire, our National Council passed a resolution requesting that I remain at the helm of the IFP until such time as we could ensure a smooth leadership transition. I have been grappling with this decision for three years, for as much as I would wish to hand over the torch of this Party to a new generation of leaders, I have been hesitant to leave a burning house.

Political Leader: Mangosuthu Buthelezi, Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) - Elections

The discovery that the fire was lit by our old opponents, the ANC, made a decision more difficult to reach. Time and again I have said that my decision on whether or not to accept your request that I remain at the helm to oversee a smooth leadership transition, will only be conveyed at this Conference. Now is the time for me to pronounce on the matter.

You know that our Party has been engaged for several months in promoting the Roadmap strategy prepared by our former Secretary-General to assist me to make this decision.

We have done that simultaneously with an audit of all our branches, for we discovered that not all the "Friends of VZ" defected to the NFP and some bogus branches remained. Not only that, but we found that some membership booklets had disappeared along with our defected members, who were now signing up bad-faith branches to send bad-faith delegates to Conference. The old plan was still afoot to disrupt this Conference; this time to foist on us leaders with whom I would find it difficult to work if I agreed to oversee the transition.

Our opponents hope that even if I agree to continue, I will resign in frustration, leaving the Party under pliable leaders that can easily be manipulated from outside our Party.

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We saw, as we presented the Roadmap strategy to our various districts, that there was general support for the Roadmap and recognition across the board that this is the blueprint for our strengthened future. But, to my great disappointment, the District of Zululand emerged as the only voice of dissent. National Council engaged these leaders, even postponing conference yet again, to give them time to properly discuss matters with their constituents. I regret to report that it became evident that a slate was being used to disrupt the Roadmap strategy and to foist a different leadership on the IFP.

I was surprised to see Mr Dladla's name come up again and again for the position of National Chairperson, when Mr Dladla had publically withdrawn from the Party earlier this year to attend to his business interests. Mr Dladla became quite concerned when he heard his name was on this slate, and he spoke to Mr Gwala, Ms kaMadlopha-Mthethwa and myself expressing his bitterness that his name should be used to divide the Party.

Mr Albert Mncwango and Mr Khawula, whose names were also put forward on the slate, have both expressed resentment that they were not approached in advance, and both of them have publically said they will not stand for nomination. But some people have sown great confusion among our supporters, telling them that the National Chairperson automatically becomes the President of the Party if anything happens to the President. That is simply not true. We are a democratic organisation and the question of leadership will always go to a vote, as required by our Constitution. Based on the will of our Party, we have embraced the amendment of our Constitution to include the position of Deputy President.

That too should allay any concerns and clear up any confusion. There should, indeed, be no reason to oppose the Roadmap strategy or to reject the names put forward by National Council for leadership positions, other than the nefarious desire to play into the hands of our enemies. I have embraced the Roadmap strategy as the right extraordinary measure to bring us through such extraordinary times. I therefore consider the leadership proposed by National Council as part of a package.

I would like to retire. But I will accept the request of National Council that I remain to oversee the leadership transition, if I am enabled to work with these people. I do not see the point of swimming against a tide that we can stop right here, right now. But I am willing to swim if I am swimming with a likeminded team. Friends, we have enough opposition without opposing ourselves from within.

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The IFP carries a heavy responsibility as we leave this Conference to fulfil our role as the voice of reason in a turbulent time. We must leave this place united, with one vision, one voice and one shared purpose. The IFP has an important role to play. Michael Morris. Who Rules South Africa?

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