COMBINED IMBIZO OF AMAKHOSI AND THEIR CLANS
AND DESCENDANTS OF KING MPANDE


ADDRESS BY
MANGOSUTHU BUTHELEZI, MP
INKOSI OF THE BUTHELEZI CLAN
CHAIRMAN OF THE HOUSE OF TRADITIONAL LEADERS [KWAZULU NATAL]
AND UNDUNANKULU KAZULU

AUGUST 3, 2002

This meeting of the Zulu nation is held as a combined Imbizo of all our clans. This meeting was called by all our amaKhosi who convened last month and realized that the issues which they were deliberating were of such importance that it had to be deferred to our whole nation for guidance. Since time immemorial our nation has come together whenever we need to reach that level of wisdom and leadership which can only be achieved through our collegial deliberations. Together as a nation we can achieve much greater wisdom, strength and resolve than in any other meeting or venue.

This is one of those important times in which we, the Zulu people, must come together to take cognisance of the events surrounding us and together map the way forward as a nation. We are on the threshold, leaving a place which has been long known to us and entering a new one which remains unknown. However, we know well that we can no longer stay where we were, as the place has become not only uncomfortable, but deeply wrong and unsuited to the responsibilities which we bear to our Kingdom and the whole of South Africa.

As we come together as a nation, we must at the outset recognise that we are a nation and that, as a nation, we can successfully overcome any difficulties if we promote our internal unity and we act with reason and with wisdom. As we consider the present status of affairs, my message to the Zulu nation is that of promoting even more our efforts to achieve our internal unity under a common leadership and to act with wisdom, prudence and within the parameters of the rule of law. We need unity and wisdom to overcome the present difficulties.

After three years of promises nothing has yet been done to address the concerns expressed by our nation in respect of traditional leadership. The establishment of municipalities through the elections of December 2000 has created the clash between the powers and functions of traditional leadership and those of the municipalities. For years before the December 2000 elections the very existence of this clash was negated, camouflaged, denied and hidden. Those in government tried everything they could to ensure that attention was not given to the fact that the establishment of municipalities would have replaced the role played by traditional authorities in all matters relating to the local governance of our communities.

However, when the reality of this imminent revolution in our system of rural government could no longer be denied, hidden or camouflaged, as early as January 1999 promises began to be made that legislation would be passed and that even the Constitution would be amended to resolve the conflict between the powers and functions of municipalities and those of traditional authorities. The President himself promised this repeatedly and on several occasions. The Deputy President himself led the delegation of Ministers which, on November 30, 1999, entered into an agreement with the coalition of traditional leaders. This agreement was a fundamental contract between traditional leaders and the government in terms of which traditional leaders listed any of the objections they had to the holding of municipal elections and fully co-operated in the electoral process, while the government undertook to amend chapters 7 and 12 of the Constitution to remove any obstacle which prevents traditional authorities from exercising local government powers.

The Constitution was to be amended to open the way to the passing of legislation which could finally address the concerns of traditional leaders and fulfil the many promises which had been made to them in previous years. However, soon after elections, the matter was dropped and no significant step was taken to try to implement that agreement. No constitutional amendment was formulated by government and no response was given to the draft amendments formulated by traditional leaders and proposed to government. The report which the Chairman of the National House of Traditional Leaders and Deputy Chairman of the House of Traditional Leaders of KwaZulu Natal places before this meeting of the Zulu nation clearly shows that after three years there is no sign that any step has been taken to bring traditional leadership within the formulae of governance of our country. We need to take cognisance of this situation. It seems that we have reached the end of a road.

Traditional authorities are very important in the complex formula on which one must rely to develop our rural areas. The strengthening of traditional authorities as local government structures is essential to promote development in rural areas. The fact that traditional authorities are now cut out of local governance will serve to weaken rural development. In the end it will be the poorest of the poor in rural areas who will suffer.

For the past eight years I have raised the concerns of traditional leaders in Cabinet. I presented several written submissions and whenever I had the opportunity I spoke up to plead that the concerns of traditional leaders be acknowledged and fulfilled. In my eight years of service in the Cabinet of the new South Africa I have seen wondrous reforms taking place. I have seen government tackling enormously complicated issues and adopting extremely complex constitutional and legislative reforms. We have restructured each and every field of governance. We created a very complex system of municipal governance. We passed hundreds of laws. We even changed the international relations and political dynamics of our continent, becoming one of the engines which produced the miracle of the African Union and the formulation of the continental plan for the recovery of our continent, known as NEPAD. However, it is very sad for me to say that I have not seen any energy nor any significant resources deployed to address the concerns of traditional leaders. Efforts were made only in order to pacify traditional leaders and ensure that they would not oppose that which government was planning to do. However, with hindsight, it is clear that there was never any intention to depart from the original plans.

This is not the first time that our nation is faced with the reality of broken promises. The pattern has been repeated time and again. As traditional leaders accepted to participate in the December 2000 elections after they received a promise from the Deputy President that the Constitution would be amended, so did our nation accept to participate in the April 1994 elections when we received a formal promise that international mediation would resume as soon as possible after than election, to deal with the issue of our Kingdom. The issue of our Kingdom, the recognition of our Monarch, His Majesty the King of the Zulu nation, and the issue of traditional leadership are closely intertwined and they are really different facets of the same reality.

It is now clear, that there was never an intention to accommodate this reality within the making of the new South Africa. We need to take cognisance of this fact. We need to remember that before the April 1994 elections the Zulu nation rallied behind its King who was then pleading with the National Party Government, which was the government of the day, to ensure that the transition to democracy would also bring about the recognition of our Kingdom. Our people, in their thousands, were outside the Union Buildings when His Majesty was meeting with the then President, FW de Klerk. Our people were also present in their thousands when they marched in support of our King in Johannesburg, and became the object of a massacre when they peacefully walked past the ANCís headquarters at Shell House.

We shall not forget that before 1994 it was His Majesty who led the demands of all traditional leaders and of all his fatherís people for the recognition of our Kingdom. The fact that the issue was not carried over after the 1994 election is partially ascribable to the fact that the same leadership was not provided for several reasons, not least of which are the many acts of manipulation and the many intrigues plotted by central government representatives in the affairs of our Kingdom. We still remember that it was one Sifiso Zulu who claimed to be a senior Prince and then disappeared back into the same cloud of obscurity from whence he came, who claimed to speak on behalf of the King and stated that the King no longer had an interest in pursuing international mediation to provide recognition for our Kingdom.

Recognition of our Kingdom is part of the framework which would have enabled the issue of traditional leadership to be resolved, as traditional leaders are the backbone of our Kingdom. However, the promise of international mediation was blatantly dishonoured in spite of the agreement which embodied it having been the real midwife of our democracy. That agreement contained two promises in respect of which our country carries the shame of a blatant breach of trust. In addition to the promise that international mediation would resume as soon as possible after the elections, that agreement contained a promise that a constitution would be drafted for KwaZulu Natal to provide for its autonomy and to recognise the Kingdom.

It took about two years for that constitution to be drafted and a long process of intense negotiations which involved both national and provincial leaders. At the end, all political parties agreed to it and the Constitution was unanimously adopted. However, the majority party opposed its certification by the Constitutional Court rejecting that which it, itself, had previously agreed to. This was another breach of trust especially in light of the fact that the KwaZulu Constitution of 1995 made provision both for the Kingdom and for amaKhosi.

In respect of all matters relating to our nation it seems that the ruling Party has followed a systematic path of treachery marked by broken promises. It seems that it has done so planning the steps ahead since the beginning and biding its time until the right moment came to pull the carpet out from under our feet. The same thing happened in respect of the issue of the capital of this Province. In other provinces the capital was declared right after the April 1994 elections in a process which gave preference to less developed cities which were more representative of the needs and aspirations of the majority of the province. Bisho, which was a city artificially created within the parameters of apartheid, was preferred over larger cities such as Port Elizabeth or King Williams Town to become the capital of the Eastern Cape. The same happened in the other provinces.

For this reason, our traditional leaders wanted Ulundi to be the capital of KwaZulu Natal, also taking into account that Ulundi is not an artificial reality but is a reality rooted in history and part of our legacy, as it was the last capital of our sovereign Kingdom. Its significance and importance is closely tied to our Kingdom in addition to having important value for the development of the northern parts of our Province where a large segment of the poorest of the poor of our people reside. In 1994 the ruling Party of KwaZulu Natal, the Inkatha Freedom Party, had the power to declare Ulundi the capital of KwaZulu Natal. It was my intention that that would happen. However, as you will remember, at the time I was being severely criticized with completely false allegations that I was interfering in the affairs of the Province and taking decisions by remote control.

My decision would have been to declare Ulundi the capital right there and then. However, the then Premier of KwaZulu Natal, Dr FT Mdlalose, desired to enter into a different agreement. He did not do that which he had the power to do and decided to defer the decision to a process which could lead to an all-inclusive agreement. A special commission was appointed to look into the issue, headed by Mr Radcliffe Cadman, former Administrator of the Province of Natal. The Cadman Commission resolved that both Ulundi and Pietermaritzburg would need to serve as the capitals and that meetings of the Legislatures and Cabinet would alternate between the two cities, pending a referendum on the matter.

Both the IFP and the ANC agreed to abide by the recommendation of the Cadman Commission and not to take any decision against it. However, in May this year the ANC broke this agreement and proceeded to force a resolution through the Legislature which declared Pietermartizburg the ordinary seat of the Legislature, thereby forcing the Premier of KwaZulu Natal to declare Ulundi as the ordinary seat of Cabinet. The Premier took this decision to restore the dignity of Ulundi because the decision to move the Legislature to Pietermaritzburg could have had very negative effects on the development of the northern parts of our Province.

Furthermore, many of us felt that the downgrading of Ulundi would have been almost akin to a second burning of the capital of our Kingdom and the second destruction of our Kingdom. The ruling Party had often given political notice that it regarded Ulundi as a symbol of our national pride which had to be destroyed. In 1993, it committed itself to march on Ulundi, a threat which it never fulfilled, not for lack of political will but because it received clear advice that there was no way a march on Ulundi could have succeeded in achieving its purposes and would have backfired. In the end, it was the will of the people of Ulundi and of amaKhosi which prevented the planned march on Ulundi, not any measure of respect for what Ulundi stands for and the will of the majority of the people of this Province.

KwaZulu Natal has become a battlefield for democracy, the rule of law, and dignity and morality in politics. We must uphold these values. We will triumph only if these values are upheld. We must respect these values and the will of the people even when others do not. You have all heard about this legislation which has been passed to enable Members of Parliament and those of Provincial Legislatures to cross the floor. The legislation allows people who have been elected in one Party to become members of another Party, to cross the floor within a 15 day window period.

When they cross the floor they carry with them their seat and all the votes which were cast to elect them. This means that although the people of this Province elected the Inkatha Freedom Party to be its government, another political party can now lure away its elected representatives through legitimate and illegitimate incentives, bribes and promises, so that this Province may end up having a different government which was not elected by the people. We know that the elections of 1994 in this Province were the product of very serious irregularities. We also know that very serious irregularities were discovered in the 1999 elections. It was only because such irregularities were discovered after the deadline that the IEC could not deal with them. However, what is now taking place exceeds all the irregularities performed during the electoral process to twist the will of the people. The crossing of the floor legislation allows people to steal the election after the election has taken place, without even having to bother to perpetrate fraud during the electoral process. It is a very concerning sign of the times.

At present the situation is very confusing because the effects of the crossing of the floor legislation have been suspended until the Constitutional Court passes judgement on its constitutionality. There is uncertainty on the outcome of the Constitutional Court case. Even though the law may be declared constitutional, those who tried to cross the floor may have done so illegally because the law was suspended. Conversely, in its wisdom, the Constitutional Court may end up making an order dealing with the situation in a manner which cannot be predicted. Irrespective of whatever the judgement on constitutionality may be, there is no doubt that throughout the country a wave of moral indignation has already risen against this legislation. The people have passed their judgement and declared this legislation morally repugnant and against their will.

Until now the province of KwaZulu Natal has had the benefit of a government which was sympathetic to traditional leaders. This government was the reflection of the majority of the people of our Province who are sympathetic to traditional leaders. However, if through the crossing of the floor legislation this Province ends up having a government which is not sympathetic to traditional leadership, then the will of the people will be frustrated. The ruling party has given political notice that it intends to establish the premiership of Mr Síbu Ndebele as soon as possible and on the strength of the votes of those who crossed the floor towards it. I have no doubt that the purpose of installing a new premier would be that of changing the many policies that our Province has in place to assist traditional leadership and strengthen our Kingdom.

Also in this respect, it seems that a plan has been meticulously pursued. In fact, before the July 1999 election the then Deputy President, Thabo Mbeki, offered me the position of Deputy President of South Africa after the elections. After the elections he confirmed to me that I could take up the position of Deputy President. A few days later he asked me to meet with him and when I arrived at his house I was informed that a delegation from KwaZulu Natal, led by Mr Síbu Ndebele had just left and that from that meeting it emerged that I could only take up the Deputy Presidency if I were willing to give up the premiership of KwaZulu Natal to Mr Síbu Ndebele.

I indicated that the premiership of KwaZulu Natal was not for me to give up as it belonged to the people of KwaZulu Natal who had chosen their own Premier and the Party which should lead them forward. On that basis, I had to decline the Deputy Presidency, and I accepted the offer to continue to serve as the Minister of Home Affairs. However, it is clear that the same objective was pursued through other means and that now we are again faced with the situation in which the premiership of KwaZulu Natal is sought not through free and fair elections, but through trickery and manipulation.

We are faced with a situation in which promises have been dishonoured and the rule of law has been broken. As a nation, we must react by promoting honour in politics and maintaining the rule of law. Democracy is taking root in South Africa, slowly but surely. We need to ensure that we do everything possible to achieve our national goals within the boundaries of the Constitution and by respecting the rule of law. We need to reject any provocation. We need to ensure that violence will never again become a part of the political dynamics of KwaZulu Natal. We have never espoused violence. We have always been the victim of violence. I abhor violence. Violence will produce nothing but more violence. It is only by respecting the rule of law that we can muster the moral strength to force all our people to respect the rule of law and preserve democracy.

Since the time of the Battle of Ulundi, the enemies of the Zulu nation could overcome us because the Zulu nation was divided. Indeed, even during the Battle of Ulundi our nation was divided. It is a record of history that the invading British troops were supported by about 15,000 Zulus raised from and trained within the areas surrounding the missions, especially around Pietermaritzburg. Our nation will only be able to achieve its goals and fulfil its responsibilities to democracy and South Africa if we achieve our political unity. Since 1996, I have been calling for the unity of the Zulu nation. Now more than ever it is important that the unity of our nation is achieved by closing ranks and rallying around the call for the recognition of our Kingdom and the fulfilment of the promises made to amaKhosi.

It is important that all those gathered here today spread a message among all the people of our Province, calling on them to become aware and politically active. In the end, only through the political process will any and all of the problems of our Kingdom be solved. The problems we are experiencing are created by political processes in which there is not sufficient political will to address them. We can only solve the problems by changing the political will. Only the people can change the political will. You, the people of this Province, you, the citizens of our Kingdom, must become ready to make your voice heard through the political process.

The present times are difficult. There are no easy solutions. These are the times in which our nation comes together. At these times, we need to invoke our collegial wisdom. We need to speak openly to one another to hear and listen to what we expect of one another. People must hear what their leadership expects of them to move the nation forward. The people must speak up to tell their leadership what they expect of it. It is time for the people to take up the responsibility to speak up and be heard. It is time for the leadership to listen up and live up to the importance of the role which is bestowed upon them.

These are the times in which we must come together with strength and with soul, but with pragmatism. It is the time to be firm, but also the time to be cool-headed. Future events are likely to create portentous changes in South Africa in our fledgling democracy. We can neither anticipate nor direct those changes, but we must be ready to ride the wave they create and be sure that we are protagonists of those changes, as a nation which is united by common leadership and shared goals. Now is the time for our nation to come together and fulfil the full measure of its responsibilities to our Kingdom and to South Africa.

#9758