IFP Salutes Baroness Margaret Thatcher

17 April 2013    


 As the United Kingdom pays its final respects to the late Baroness Margaret Thatcher today, the National Executive Committee of the Inkatha Freedom Party wishes to express heartfelt condolences - on behalf of the whole membership of the IFP - to the Thatcher family and the people of the United Kingdom.


Torch-bearer of female leadership

Baroness Thatcher - like any public figure and, in fact, any human being - was loved by some and hated by others. However, for the record, the IFP held her in high esteem as an iconic figure in world history.


By becoming the first female Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, she became a torch-bearer, paving the way for female leaders throughout the world to play their rightful roles in the affairs of mankind.


At the time when she assumed the role of Prime Minister, the UK's morale was ebbing and their economy was faltering. Yet, through her remarkable leadership, she reversed her nation's decline following World War II. She led her nation to victory in the Falklands War, and won three elections, serving her country from 1979 to 1990.


Baroness Thatcher played a leading role in ending the Cold War which was polarising the world and bedevilling the internal politics of nations, especially within Africa. She was a significant player in the destruction and dismemberment of the USSR dictatorship, helping to advance the spirit of true freedom and multi-partyism in a world where the Soviet dictatorship was spreading values contrary to democracy.


By and large, the problems afflicting post-independence Africa can be attributed to a leadership whose mind-set was modelled on communist thinking whereby regular, free and fair elections, as well as the human rights of individuals were not respected, to say the least. Contrary to the dictators who, in some quarters, are still revered as messiahs, Mrs Thatcher stood as a leader who had gone through elections and had legitimised her leadership through free elections. Despite any weaknesses she may have had, as every human being has, she was a democrat.


Sanctions and Disinvestment

The IFP admires Baroness Thatcher's courage to stand for her principles, which happened to be principles that we shared. History records that the IFP and ANC reached their crossroad at the 1979 London Summit. One major bone of contention was the ANC's call for sanctions and disinvestment!


Inkatha refused to endorse the tactic of sanctions and disinvestment for two reasons, based on realities on the ground inside South Africa.


The first reason was that Inkatha - unlike the ANC-SACP alliance and elitist individuals who were ensconced in posh offices and residences - was based within the country among the downtrodden and the destitute. Inkatha was exposed daily to conditions of grinding poverty and squalor, which Africans in particular suffered under Apartheid oppression. Inkatha was daily confronted by the long queues of men and women who stood at factory gates throughout the country looking for work. These men and women were voting with their feet, declaring that they wanted employment.


How then could an organization that claimed to be committed to the service and welfare of these very people, turn around and tell them that they were wrong to look for work and that they and their families should instead stay at home to face hunger, poverty and despair, in the hope that on an unknown day the armies of liberation would march from across the borders to liberate them?


Secondly, as every South African knew, if you were a black parent in South Africa you had to sweat in order to be able to send your child to school, because blacks had to pay for the schooling of their children. How then could an organization serving ordinary peasants and workers tell these parents to go without jobs and, in the process, give up the ability to send their children to school and put bread on the table?


For Inkatha to have adopted these tactics would have been a betrayal of the very essence of the struggle for liberation. As Professor Herbert Vilakazi argues, great revolutionary leaders have never supported the condemnation of the struggling masses to hunger and misery through the misguided employment of disinvestment -


"From this point of view, it is clear just how incredibly nonsensical is the argument advanced by some securely-employed intellectuals, and students on scholarships, that Africans in South Africa have been suffering for so long, and so much, that the loss of jobs by 'one or two million' Africans, as a possible result of withdrawal of investments by foreign corporations 'will not add that much to the suffering blacks'. This, indeed, is incredible nonsense. To talk like this about a population which does not benefit from unemployment insurance, is the measure of the miserable confusion which reigns in the heads of these securely-employed intellectuals, and students, who are receiving stipends of various sorts from white liberal institutions and foundations in South Africa as well as abroad. These well-fed individuals, some of them round-bellied already, are betraying the greatest possible insensitivity to the depth of the suffering to which African workers and peasants are subjected. They have absolutely no idea at all of what the closing of a factory, or the death of a cow, means to the already poor workers and peasants of this world. When these intellectuals lose their source of livelihood, they very quickly take themselves to liberal whites and other foundations, from which they generally receive ready relief-aid, and some are flown immediately abroad to take up fellowships and scholarships; and they would shrink with horror at the suggestion that they donate 50% of their monthly income into a fund to put bread and milk in the households of unemployed workers and peasants who have lost 100% of their income. And yet they go on uttering such nonsense. How right Lenin was: nothing is more repugnant to the spirit of Marxism than revolutionary phrase-mongering.


"These individuals, of course, take themselves to be very revolutionary. In their own spheres, they think they are contributing to the liberation struggle. They are for an all-round boycott of South Africa, along the cultural front, political front, sports front, etc. However, in their passionate speeches and pamphlets, there is no distinction made at all between the "slaves" and the "slave-masters," which is the first requirement for any discussion of an oppressive social structure by a Marxist, the recognition of which gives rise to certain tactical decisions in the struggle for the liberation of slaves from slavery. The first principle is this: if you are striking a blow at the slave-master, and that blow keeps on hitting the slave, you should change the angle of your attack. The agitation by many 'committed' intellectuals for a total boycott of South Africa, as a means of contributing to the liberation of blacks, is, almost word-for-word identical to the agitation almost a century ago, of 'committed' intellectuals and students in the Northern States of  America, for a total boycott of a slave regime of Southern States. This suggestion met the thunderous opposition of the greatest fighter of the time against slavery, Frederick Douglass, based upon his recognition of the distinction between the "slaves" and the "slave-master", and his desire to find the slave, by hook or by crook, wherever the slave was, for the sole purpose of joining the slave in the struggle for destroying slavery. If you have to boycott, boycott the slave-owner, but by all means, go to sup with the slave, even if it is in the back-room of the slave-master's mansion...


"The proper Marxist approach is the following: the effort of the oppressed workers and peasants for liberation comprises the economic struggle and the political struggle, with the political struggle providing the light to the entire effort. The economic struggle is the struggle to improve the working and living conditions of the exploited workers and peasants; and this includes improving wages, job security, shorter work hours, improving employment opportunities, etc. These are pre-eminently reform measures. It is absolutely not among the responsibilities of Marxist revolutionaries to argue for the closing of factories and cessation of industrial development.

'Marxists do not defend a single reactionary measure, such as the banning of trusts, restricting trade etc.' Only confused radicals argue for such measures, even though some of them fancy themselves Marxists, many of the latter having turned to Marxism out of fashion. Marxism does not seek to turn people into revolutionaries by means of knowingly fighting for measures which will increase hunger, poverty, and misery for the already suffering masses of workers and peasants. Oppression is a social relationship; not the amount of food on one's plate. The theory that better wages, better jobs, and better housing, tend to make people satisfied with the existing social structure, is as false, taken by itself, as the theory that very low wages, bad jobs, and bad housing, by themselves, turn people into revolutionaries."

(Vilakazi, South Africa: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow; pp. 46-48)


Sanctions and disinvestment were tantamount to hitting the slave because, in the end, it hurt the most severely those which it sought to liberate. It also delayed the forward march towards satisfying the greater demands of the struggle by the masses. That was exactly the position that Prince Buthelezi, the IFP President, was articulating when he spoke to the Inkatha Youth Brigade Conference of August 1978 -


"Let us also acknowledge the fact that this is a Southern African issue rather than just a South African issue. Tens of thousands of our brothers from independent states in Southern Africa such as Lesotho, Botswana, Swaziland, Malawi and Mozambique and even Angola are still employed in racist South Africa as their home countries have no jobs for them. If there is no definite schedule within which we can apply the disinvestment pressure, it is quite clear that there is still going to be a lot of suffering, and blacks in particular will bear the brunt of that suffering.

Blacks are prepared to suffer for their freedom, but my experience is that blacks are not prepared to suffer futilely without that suffering paying them dividends in the struggle for liberation.


"Inkatha does not separate political freedom from a new economic order. We feel that if our economic muscle is strengthened this takes us nearer our freedom, as we will develop in such a way that we will use that economic muscle to liberate ourselves."


One other question always avoided by commentators on the sanctions and disinvestment debate is whether the advocates thereof supported sanctions and disinvestment because they were true adherents of nonviolent change, and thus saw this as the perfect nonviolent weapon. The true picture is that the advocates of sanctions and disinvestment were moving from the premise that once the black masses were immersed in abject hunger and poverty, they would go wild and run amok in a violent revolution that would destroy everything, towards the establishment of the workers' dictatorship, because they would have nothing to lose in the process.


Inkatha, on the other hand, advocated investment because its fight against Apartheid was reliant on the employment of the nonviolent tactics of worker-power and consumer-power. The more black people entered the economy, and increased their economic muscle, the greater the chances for them to flex their economic muscles as workers and consumers to pull down Apartheid and usher in a new democratic order.


Baroness Thatcher shared this perspective with Inkatha, and we salute her for defying many vociferous leaders to stand with us. Without question, she was no darling of those who were opposed to the nonviolent overthrow of Apartheid and the ushering in of a negotiated multiparty democracy in South Africa.


Inkatha and Prince Buthelezi have been vindicated by the current ANC leadership's acceptance of the logic of the anti-sanctions stance. The ANC has vehemently opposed the application of sanctions against Zimbabwe on the same grounds that Inkatha advanced years ago, for which they castigated us so severely.


We are not ashamed that our legacy speaks of an association with democrats, like Baroness Thatcher, rather than with dictatorships.


By: Mbongeleni Joshua Mazibuko, MPL

IFP Deputy National Spokesperson

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