IFP opens doors with a show of old-fashioned respect
A show of respect is one way to get a potential voter to hear your campaigning message. The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) volunteers understand this implicitly.
As they go from house to house in Zonkizizwe near Katlehong, they never forget to take off their hats, bow ever so slightly and greet people. They never barge into houses – they knock, take a step back and wait until the door is opened.
Mzwandile Buthelezi, who was born in Nkandla, is a staunch IFP supporter. He grew up attending the party’s meetings in KwaZulu-Natal before moving to Johannesburg in 2002. In the party, he found the family he had left behind.
“In the five years IFP ran this ward before 2000, the party worked very hard to ensure this community had schools and a taxi rank – so people had shelter when waiting for transport – clinics and halls. “People loved this party and they need it to be in power again,” he says.
He and the other volunteers gathered at the busy Zonkizizwe taxi rank, the one an IFP councillor had built more than 10 years ago. Taxis hoot and mbhaqanga blares from taxis being washed.
The IFP team share a small container of mabele (sorghum porridge) – “the breakfast of champions” – before they set off to campaign for their party.
“For two weeks, this area had no electricity and the people called on us to assist them. A few hours later, Eskom had replaced their transformer. That is why the people here want us to run this area again,” Buthelezi says.
One resident says the team of volunteers needn’t waste their time campaigning because “we were converted a long time ago”. She greets each volunteer cheerfully and she tells them not to worry because her vote has always been for the IFP.
Across the road, Brian Dakile is less impressed by the party and has hard questions for them. “I will vote for the party that can deliver for us. I am not about party politics and such. We need someone who will help the community and bring the development we need. My vote is not something to play with. They have to prove themselves to me. It won’t be easy,” he says.
He asks Buthelezi how the IFP would ensure a decline in crime, and what their plans are to have the roads tarred and to create a play area for children.
Fortunate Buthelezi is in her 20s and tells the volunteer of her battle to find work. “Young people complete their matric and then have nowhere to go. Education should be free, especially at the higher institutions, because we simply can’t afford it. And there are no jobs for us. So how will you be of assistance?” she asks.
“My child, we are giving you our word that in this party we don’t deliver based on who you are or which party you are with. When we have projects you, like any other young person, will be called with your CV and jobs will be allocated fairly,” says an earnest Mzwandile Buthelezi.
“This is the same as the bursary system, which we have seen being misused by the current governing party, where bursaries are handed out to families of those in the know. You have our word that this does not happen in our party.” The young woman nods her head and says she will attend a party meeting before she makes her choice.
As the team winds up their day, they pass a house where a funeral had just been held. There are still cars parked outside a white tent, and women and children are collecting dirty plates to be washed.
Buthelezi approaches a group of men leaning against a wall and drinking beer. “What are the things that your community needs the most?” he asks.
“We need proper roads. My car cannot handle this gravel – like we live in a village or something. And, if we vote for you, you have to live here. We are tired of looking for our councillor. When we need him, he’s nowhere to be found,” one of the men replies.
Further down the road, a man who identifies himself only as Donald is even more critical of the current councillor. “That man has no respect for us, the same people who voted for him and that ANC. Do you know he said we would never get jobs because we were uneducated and dirty? You better not do that to us.”
Although Buthelezi is small, he isn’t deterred and stands up to the tall and imposing Donald, pledging that the IFP would do no such thing. “We are a party against corruption and delivery based on party colours. We will deliver to all – not this nonsense of building houses for a select few,” he says.
They shake hands and Donald seems calmer and somewhat reassured that Buthelezi and his party would deliver on their promises for the small township of Zonkizizwe.