VISIT BY MEMBERS OF THE NATIONAL CONFERENCE OF EDITORIAL WRITERS

DENISE JOHNSON - MINNEAPOLIS STAR TRIBUNE
ROBIN BLUMNER - ST PETERSBURG TIMES
JAMES MITCHELL - DALLAS MORNING NEWS
STORER ROWLEY - CHICAGO TRIBUNE
MICHAEL ADAMS - BALTIMORE SUN
SOFIE MATHIASSEN - DAGENS NERINSLIVE, OSLO
SUSAN NIELSEN - SEATTLE TIMES

WELCOMING REMARKS BY MANGOSUTHU BUTHELEZI, MP

MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIRS AND PRESIDENT OF THE INKATHA FREEDOM PARTY

PRETORIA : MAY 3, 2000

I wish to extend a warm welcome to all those participating in this tour of the National Conference of Editorial Writers. It is deeply encouraging that you have chosen Africa to be the focus of your exploration and assessment in the year 2000. The dawn of this century has been heralded as the coming of the African century and there is little doubt that this continent is finally coming into its own. There are unprecedented challenges facing Africa and a wealth of potential just waiting to be grasped. The unique history of Africa has unfolded along a path plotted by slavery, colonialism and oppression. Yet it is the indomitable spirit of Africa's people which has created the Africa of today.

The richness of African soil has caught the eye of countless entrepreneurs throughout the centuries who failed in one vital regard. They were unable to see that the greatest resource of Africa is indeed her people. The so-called South African miracle has been established on the recognition that the people of this country are united under a common present and with the assurance of a shared future. The scourge of apartheid faltered because it did not draw the support of the people. Apartheid refused to recognise that we are all South Africans, regardless of race, colour, language, history, culture, tradition, religion or gender. It suggested that some are more entitled to the benefits of our land than others, for no reason other than their political dominance.

Liberation was achieved in South Africa only once we surrendered the idea that unity could be won through the barrel of the gun. As you know, our liberation movement was divided between those who advocated a military strategy based on the armed struggle and those such as myself who rejected it. This division caused untold suffering to our people and yet I feel that I, for one, made the right call. Had I and Inkatha National Cultural Liberation Movement joined our forces in the armed struggle, the country would have been reduced to ashes with no winners or losers in a war with no spoils. A military solution would have divided our people even further. In the end, liberation was secured through negotiations, with every South African represented around the negotiating table.

A democracy was born from the seeds of unity in purpose, when we began to recognise that we would not see our country prosper or gain stability while we fought for different causes. We are now faced with the challenge of maintaining the same spirit of unity of

purpose when facing the many and grave problems confronting us. In fact, today we are faced with greater challenges than before liberation, for we must now throw off the persisting yoke of poverty, disease, ignorance for lack of education, exposure and experience, unemployment, lack of opportunity and skills, poor service delivery and criminality.

In short, we need to transform our country and our people with it. Our government has begun a programme of human upliftment which perhaps has few precedents anywhere in the world. From this year, 0.5% of our national payroll has been levied for purposes of training and the upliftment of human resources. This levy will increase to 1% from next year. Adult basic education, life skills and literacy programmes will accompany training related to better performance in the work-place. We have made a commitment to make South Africa grow and to grow with it.

I have been in politics for over forty years. My life has been dedicated to seeing all my people freed from the burden of our yoke and I continue in this purpose each day, for I see the long-term future of South Africa in terms of what we can achieve today. I have always known that the actions of a people today determine the future of a people tomorrow. It is for this reason that I have taken many difficult decisions and walked the less popular path throughout my life. The popular voice often calls for what is needed right now. Throughout the years of our struggle and even today, I call for what is needed for our future, in the knowledge that we cannot build by sacrificing long-term gains for short-term and short-lived social benefits.

It is for this very reason that in 1975 I established Inkatha yeNkululeko yeSizwe, the National Cultural Liberation Movement. I saw then that the leaders of the liberation movement had begun to deviate from our original route of non-violence, passive resistance and the high moral ground of the founding fathers of our liberation struggle. I could not agree with taking up arms, for I have never considered any South African as an enemy to be defeated or destroyed. The birth in 1961 of the ANC's military arm, uMkhonto weSizwe, or the "Spear of the Nation", announced the beginning of the armed struggle. The external delegation of the ANC won support from the Organisation for African Unity and many African States began to train the ANC's guerilla fighters. The threat of violence grew steadily and guerilla warfare began in earnest a few years later. I had myself been brought up in the ANC and was a member of its Youth League in my youth.

I could not agree with the route of violence, bloodshed and armed conflict. I knew that we would lose far more than could ever be gained, and I foresaw the dire consequences of a culture of aggression following the inevitable success of our struggle. Sadly, I was right, for the armed struggle brought forth an entire generation knowing nothing but the route of violence. After 1994, South Africa experienced a surge of criminality characterised by violent crime. We found ourselves faced with a reality far different from that which we had imagined, for South Africa needed to be rebuilt from the ashes of a fallen system while the spectres of inequality, injustice, unequal resources, unemployment and a destabilised economy continued to haunt our efforts. Many of the election promises irresponsibly made could not be fulfilled by the new democratic government, and a disillusioned generation turned to crime in a culture of entitlement and lawlessness.

In 1976, Oliver Tambo, the then Acting President of the ANC in exile, addressed the United Nations General Assembly and called for foreign disinvestment and international sanctions against South Africa. This was another approach with which I could not agree.

I knew that sanctions would not collapse the system of apartheid. Indeed, the regime simply tightened in on itself and a system of monopolies was developed which we are still struggling to overcome today. The position of the privileged elite was not threatened by international disinvestment. However, the poorest of the poor carried the burden. While failing to disrupt apartheid, I knew that disinvestment would weaken our country's economy and that we would inherit an economy desperately in need of growth.

As Chief Minister of the erstwhile KwaZulu Government, I led my people with the ever-present knowledge that if we were to survive, we had to build together. KwaZulu received little funding from the central government in Pretoria and the majority of our people suffered without proper health-care, housing, education, sanitation and welfare. Knowing that we would not be receiving any more from government, I called for a culture of self-help and self-reliance, mobilising communities to raise funds and build their own schools, clinics and houses. A tremendous sense of community solidarity grew from these projects and many people gained a firmer grip on the sense of dignity which apartheid worked to deny.

I knew that the oppressed majority in South Africa could never rise above their circumstances until they had the tools to do so. The most important among such tools remained the ability to see beyond the present and know that liberation could be achieved. Our children had to learn to stand with the knowledge that others before them had stood and conquered. Education was the key to teach overcoming. It was for this reason that I disagreed when many of the leaders of the liberation struggle adopted the slogan "liberation now, education later". I juxtaposed this with the call for "education for liberation".

The burning of schools and violence in black communities which was splashed across every newspaper around the world was met with indifference by the existing government. Black-on-black violence did not help to achieve liberation and had little effect on the white population or its firm grip of power. Indeed, the fallacy of the armed struggle being a black-on-white and a white-on-black conflict persists even today, when the truth is readily available to any wishing to find it. Even the much applauded Truth and Reconciliation Commission ignored the fact that while approximately 600 white people were killed during the armed struggle, thousands upon thousands of black people lost their lives at the hands of black people. This is a mystery which must be uncloaked.

At grassroots level the armed struggle fuelled the black-on-black conflict to secure political hegemony once liberation was achieved. For instance, systematically, leaders and office bearers of my Party were assassinated in their homes, taxis and work-places. IFP supporters were targeted and killed. A new leadership was foisted on black communities, one which ruled by the barrel of the gun. The horrific incidents of necklacing witnessed by the international eye never once involved a white South African. The conflict was black-on-black. Unfortunately this killing did not stop and continues to some degree to this day.

My commitment to the struggle for liberation did not diminish, yet I was fighting not merely for political enfranchisement, but for liberation from poverty, degradation, unemployment and fear. I never left my people, but remained in the thick of the struggle, having taken up my position as the Chief Minister in the erstwhile KwaZulu Government at the insistence of the very leadership of the ANC, such as the late Oliver Tambo and the late Inkosi Albert Lutuli. We believed that we could use my position to undermine the apartheid system from within.

I had established Inkatha to give a political home to those who wished to maintain the righteousness of our cause, and it continued as the political vehicle of the people while other liberation movements were banned or exiled. However, as the path of Inkatha diverged from that of the other liberation movements on the points of the armed struggle and international disinvestment, a campaign of vilification began against me and my Party which would continue to grow in ferocity and injustice. This campaign of vilification, which assumed international proportions, was very painful for me and could have been the cause for a grudge on my side.

I am stating this background for you to explain the measure of confidence I hold in the future of my country. In spite of this background, I accepted to serve in the Government of National Unity which was established by the interim Constitution after the 1994 election. I knew that political differences had to be set aside to pursue the path of reconciliation. It has been a difficult path and, at times, it has been filled with set-backs. However, even though many issues and problems remain outstanding and violence often continues to be used as a means of political action, a great deal of progress has been achieved.

On the strength of the progress made, it was politically possible for President Mbeki to invite me to continue to participate in the governance of the country after the 1999 elections, even though the time for the Government of National Unity had lapsed. For the sake of peace, reconciliation and stability in our country, President Mbeki and I felt that we should continue to work together, even though the final Constitution no longer provided for a Government of National Unity.

I am satisfied that even though great difficulty exists on the path to full reconciliation, the political co-operation on which the governance of South Africa has been based in the past six years, has been very beneficial to the country. As you know, my political creed and philosophy are based on the notions of federalism, devolution of power, pluralism and the respect of a clear divide between government and civil society. Furthermore, I have always believed that promoting economic growth is the main role of government which can only be achieved by relying on the dynamics of a free market and competition.

Throughout my life, I have advocated economic policies based on strengthening rather than weakening the free market and on limiting the role, scope and extent of government interventions, regulations and protectionist measures. I have always complained about the many monopolies and cartels around which our economy is still structured, which effectively represent a non tariff trade barrier. In the past ten years, I have also called for a programme of accelerated privatisation to ensure that we can dismantle the economic public sector which still controls the lion's share of corporate South Africa.

Not all my ideas and policies have been registered in the programme and actions of our government. However, I am satisfied that to a material extent, my presence within this government, together with my Party colleagues, has ensured that the political axis of the country could be moved more towards the centre and away from the negative influence of the communist and trade unionist components which comprise the governing alliance. In many respects, we have walked only half the length of the road which can lead us towards the conditions for economic prosperity and social stability. However, I am confident that if present conditions persist, we will be able to walk further. For instance, there is finally recognition that to a certain extent in the past six years, some of the social programmes of our government may have traded long-term economic gains for short-term and short-lived social benefits.

In this respect, a case in point is some aspects of our labour legislation, which at the outset I denounced to be inimical to economic growth and employment generation. It is saddening that since democracy took over the reins of power, in excess of half a million jobs have been lost in spite of the world-wide trend of economic growth on which our economy is riding. Partially, this job loss has reflected more efficient internal structural arrangements, but a great deal of it has been caused by the excessive rigidity in our labour market, which I hope will soon be corrected. I also hope that after much consideration and many delays, our programme of privatisation will eventually take off.

There are great potentials built into our economy which have not yet been fully unleashed. I believe that both by improving on the quality of our human resources and unleashing our economy's hidden potential, South Africa will soon embark on a much faster path of economic and social development. I have confidence that we can capture the many promises opened with our successful transition from apartheid to democracy. I believe that only in this fashion will we be able to give substance and credence to the notion of an African Renaissance often voiced by our President. I thank you.

 

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