Where is the discipline?

2009-09-02 00:00

HISTORICALLY, the Inkatha Freedom Party has evolved around discipline as its founding principle and one of its most cherished values. Even today­, to most of us in the IFP, discipline is everything. It requi­res a solid grasp and understanding of our theory of peaceful revolution and the ability to articulate its strategic objective — that of building a pluralistic, democratic and prosperous society.

Discipline to the IFP means that we must learn to listen to and respect the opinions of others, while upholding the fundamental principle of following the lead of democratically elected leaders. Some of the behaviour that we have witnessed in our organisation of late — the devious plotting to undermine elected authority par­aded as democratic principle — is a far cry from the heyday of the IFP as a liberation movement.

The disrespect some sections of our youth brigade have shown our seniors is all the more disconcerting when one considers that it is the responsibility of our youth wing to act as role models and teach the principles, culture and ethos of our movement to others, especially to those of their own generation who have recently joined the organisation.

Prior to 1994, we in the oppressed majority interpreted liberation from different perspectives. Many of those who went into exile in communist countries returned with a vision of an ideal soc­iety. Those of us who stayed in South Africa had the courage to see this vision for what it was — a misguided and dangerous exper­iment with an uncertain outcome. Instead of following vague ideals, we chose to address the real challenges our people faced on the ground and we did so in real time.

Our idea of freedom has always been coupled with discipline and responsibility. We never promised the dispossessed masses a carefree existence in suburbia without self-discipline and hard work. Those in competing liberation movements that did so, achieved a culture of violent protest and a culture of non-payment for state services, while the vision of a better life for all is as distant as ever.

Similarly, we in the IFP rejected the idea of an enlightened elite which alone presumes to understand the journey and the destination. Likewise, we never dismissed the bulk of the oppressed as unthinking masses who turn to the self-appointed elite for leadership and instead of falling on self-help and self-reliance, rely on perpetual handouts.

This vision of a South Africa liberated from colonialism and apartheid was bound to replicate the social commentary of George Orwell’s Animal Farm, where in theory everyone was equal but, in practice, some were more equal than others.

The historic contribution of our youth brigade to the IFP’s unique brand of struggle for liberation based on discipline and responsibility poses a fresh challenge to all young people of today, including those few who have so flagrantly turned their backs on our cherished values and traditions.

Driven by self-interest, these youths have failed to critically assess the disappointing result the IFP achieved in the 2009 election. Blinded by expediency, these individuals­ have failed to diagnose the situation and come up with constructive solutions.

Most importantly, they have failed to ask themselves if their behav­iour is befitting of heirs to a venerable tradition. Perhaps they have forgotten that they joined the IFP to advance a peaceful revolution and to liberate our people from continuing socioeconomic oppression. As someone of their own background and generation, I wish to remind them that for any liberation to succeed, it takes discipline, responsibility and maturity.

While it was easy to render our country ungovernable during apartheid through petrol bombs and limpet mines, the task of rebuilding it has become more complex and formidable. Generating prosperity requires much more than singing slogans and toyi-toying. It requires a new breed of young people who are conscious of themselves and their roles in soc­iety but who are also armed with knowledge, skills, self-discipline and humility.

As we rebuild our party ahead of the 2011 local government elections, we in the IFP should not seek to be identified through any other identity. This consciousness should be reflected in the manner in which we all behave in the face of the difficult but manageable challenges that our province and country are confronting.

• Dr Bonginkosi Buthelezi, MPL, is the IFP KZN provincial secretary and leader of the official opposition in the KZN legislature.

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