Aida 204 IFP ………


DR BUTHELEZI's Inkatha Freedom Party has begun its long march to winning the leadership and unification of SA's presently fragmented and therefore unengined opposition. The IFP's governing body, the National Council, has adopted a four-page Ubuntu Mission Statement, identifying the key values and pillars on which the party's political, economic and social vision for SA rests.

This clearly positions the party at the very centre of the ideological spectrum, indicating that it intends to establish itself as the major party in opposition to the ANC/SACP. Doing so from within the confines of the Government of National Unity (GNU) is obviously no easy task, but the adoption of the statement could well be an important milestone for Dr Buthelezi, his party and the New SA.


The statement sets out the party's "Four Pillars," incorporating its vision and goals: 1. Pride in self and nation, discipline and accountability. 2. Respect for cultural diversity, tradition and civil society. 3. Creating equal opportunity for all, and rewarding quality and excellence. 4. Supporting a family- and community-centred culture. It also commits the IFP to "three noble ideals" in the coming political struggle: **Self-reliance and prosperity. **Security and peace. **Family and community.

The statement is important not only because it sets out, for the first time, the IFP's core ideals and goals, but because it implicitly recognises that the party's focus can no longer be limited primarily to constitutional policy. A successful party needs a more holistic vision, embracing also economic, social and cultural values. The constitutional aspect remains important as a country's fundamental law invariably deals with these.

It can only be hoped that the IFP will not waver in its opposition to the new unitary, anti-plural, reactionary and ultra-egalitarian constitution the ANC/SACP alliance has foisted on the country.

The "Four Pillars" on which the IFP's ideal for restructuring South African society rests imply a vastly different constitutional framework from that to be found in the new constitution, introduced in February. Its "Four Pillars" are federalism, pluralism, a social market economy and community values. Each of these is vitiated by various provisions of the ANC constitution.

If the IFP is serious about defending and promoting these values it will logically have to seek to amend the new constitution in a variety of ways. The ANC constitution does not create a federal state, not even the "figleaf of federalism" of the interim constitution. The arguments raised by some, particularly the DP and the Roelf Meyer faction of the NP, that the "figleaf federalism" of the interim constitution would be strengthened into a fully-fledged federalism in the final constitution have been brutally exposed as wishful thinking.

The new constitution empowers the central government even to intervene and pass legislation in areas supposedly of exclusive provincial competence. It was only Dr Buthelezi and elements of the so-called "White right" who recognised that concessions made to the ANC and its allies at the pre-election Kempton Park negotiations made the establishment of a unitary state inevitable.

IFP support for a federal state where the central government is responsible only for a very limited range of functions is based on various considerations. First, that federalism makes government more efficient, in that voters can more easily hold elected representatives and government officials accountable. To quote, "federalism and democracy usually go hand in hand, just as centralism and authority are usually inseparable."

The party understands that federalism empowers people by discouraging the emergence of the nanny-state syndrome, with citizens looking to government for assistance. Federalism is a natural brake on the emergence of an entitlement state, encouraging instead empowerment based on self-reliance.

The IFP's commitment to federalism must be seen against the realisation that SA is a multi-cultural or plural society in which many cultural groups and communities exist and must learn to co-exist. Federalism is not the first step towards the balkanisation of SA, but the only way in which the diverse peoples, cultures and traditions that constitute the SA "nation" can be accommodated within a single state. Pluralism, in the party's view, must be cherished and respected, not torn down in a quest for drab uniformity.


The statement strongly commits the party to defending centres of power between individuals and the state: what de Tocqueville meant by mediating institutions and what is meant today when we talk of the importance of an independent civil society. It is gratifying that the IFP has taken this stance, because there are fewer and fewer voices in SA willing to be heard in defence of civil society.

Many activists who formerly spoke forcefully on the importance of independent choice are today part of an ambitious ANC attempt to invade and control all areas of civil society. This totalitarian impulse must not be lightly dismissed, leading as it must toward an illiberal, undemocratic and hegemonic state. The IFP should be congratulated on having identified a potential flashpoint in our body politic.

The statement also reaffirms the IFP's commitment to the right of traditional communities to live according to their laws and customs and its strenuous opposition to all attempts unilaterally to impose new laws and models on such communities. Just as the party previously opposed violent revolution and the imposition of a new order, as opposed to reform and incremental change, it now opposes unilateral, top-down transformation imposed by a supposedly democratic government.

Also interesting is that the statement clearly distinguishes the IFP not only from authoritarian, undemocratic parties such as the NP and ANC but also from a traditional liberal party such as the DP. The party's support for communalism, to quote, "distinguishes it from parties which tend to ignore communities and other mediating institutions and either glorify the all-powerful state or pray at the shrine of the isolated individual."

While the IFP recommits itself to a market-based economy for SA, it prefaces this commitment with the word "social." Some commentators speculate that the reference to a "social-market" economy implies a socialist shift away from the party's traditional support of the free market. Careful study of the statement indicates this not to be the case.


It clearly lays down that "the state is not effective at creating wealth," that "a growing economy … will only emerge if the state's role in the productive side of the economy is limited," that the "privatisation and/or commercialisation of public enterprise … needs to be urgently implemented."

The IFP appears to be positioning itself to defend and articulate the interests and grievances of the millions who have received few if any benefits from ANC rule. It appears finally to have realised that the social conservatism of the vast SA majority is the electoral soft underbelly of the ANC and its socialist allies. Many of the ANC's own constituency do not support the governing party's radical social policies and programmes. It is especially committed to the protection and strengthening of the family unit.

In a vein which should especially appeal to British and US social conservatives, it is categorically stated that "healthy individuals are the product of healthy families," that "parental and family authority needs to be strengthened, not weakened."

The IFP statement could not come at a more opportune time. SA's opposition parties are in a state of disarray, some being courted by a worried ANC, others simply floundering. The party has now staked its claim to lead a new opposition grouping out of the wilderness. To be effective, as we have repeatedly emphasised, such a grouping must be led by a Black South African of stature, credibility and political acumen.

Dr Buthelezi certainly has his enemies, particularly in the lib/left media, but he could well be our man of the moment. The next six months will be crucial. The IFP policy statement needs to be followed by a set of realistic, implementable policy documents and a clear initiative by Dr Buthelezi and his party to lead the reorganisation of the opposition: and pull SA back from the slippery slope of one-party rule and economic and social decline and decay.

Cycad Web Works Thu Jun 1 11:29:40 EDT 2023 : # 1 : last modified 8/4/97
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