TO THE AFRICAN NATIONAL CONGRESS
CONGRATULATORY MESSAGE BY
MANGOSUTHU BUTHELEZI, MP
MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIRS AND PRESIDENT, INKATHA FREEDOM PARTY
JANUARY 6, 2002
I regard the celebration of the 90th anniversary of the founding of the African National Congress as a celebration for the whole of South Africa and, to a great extent, an important milestone in my own life. I have dedicated my entire life to our struggle for liberation and, for many years, my life belonged to the African National Congress. I have always been inspired and motivated by the fundamental values and vision which the African National Congress first founded. I received my political formation in the ranks of the ANC Youth League and I engaged my first political activity in its ranks at the University of Fort Hare with comrades such as Joe Matthews, Denis Siwisa, Duma Nokwe and Robert Sobukwe. My political commitment in the ANC caused my expulsion from that University, forcing me to move to Durban, where I had the honour of having Inkosi Albert Lutuli, the President-General of the ANC, as my political mentor, as well as patriots such as Masabalala Yengwa, Lugongolo Mtolo and Wilson Zami Conco, amongst a host of others. Inkosi Albert Mvumbi Lutuli became not only my leader, but also one of my political mentors and close friend during the critical years of my political growth.
My commitment to the struggle for liberation promoted by the African National Congress followed in the steps of my own uncle, Dr Pixley ka Isaka Seme, one of the founding fathers of the ANC who was also my mentor earlier in my life. He was married to my aunt, and the eldest daughter of King Dinuzulu, Princess Phikisile Harriet. Dr Seme actually asked my maternal grandfather, King Dinuzulu, to become one of the patrons of the ANC shortly before the King passed away in 1913. Following the same path, I conducted my entire life in close consultation with the then recognised ANC's leadership. It was at the instance of Inkosi Albert Lutuli, and other ANC leaders such as Walter Sisulu, the then Secretary-General of the ANC, and the late Oliver R. Tambo, Nelson R. Mandela and other ANC leaders in Durban, that in 1952 I abandoned my plans to do legal articles under a great patriot Rowley Arenstein. This was, of course, first and foremost the decision of Princess Constance Magogo ka Dinuzulu, my later mother, that I should not continue with my legal career but return to Mahlabathini to take up my hereditary position as Inkosi of the Buthelezi Clan.
Similarly, it was also at their instance that in 1970 I accepted the position of Chief Executive of the Zulu Territorial Authority and in 1972 of the KwaZulu Legislature Assembly, which later became the KwaZulu Government. And throughout the time I served in these bodies, I not only did so with the sanction of the ANC leadership, but I was constantly in touch with that leadership until 1979. In October of that year I went to London with a delegation of Inkatha to meet the President of the ANC mission-in-exile, Oliver Reginald Tambo, at his invitation. We had a two and a half day discussion
which was attended by, amongst others, the President of the ANC, President Thabo Mbeki,
The establishment of Inkatha as a cultural liberation movement was part and parcel of my working hand in hand with the ANC leadership. Inkatha was established as part of a common strategy to provide a base for mobilisation and a political home for our people once the ANC, its leadership and its activities had been banned. My viewpoint was such that I could not endorse the tactics of violence, rebellion and insurrection which other ANC leaders adopted in the 70's. However, I recognised their right to do so and put forward the notion that our liberation strategy should benefit from different strategies and tactics, harmonised by a vision of common intent.
My conscience did not allow me to depart from the fundamental values of non-violence, negotiation, moral high ground and reconciliation, on which the African National Congress was originally established by its founding fathers in 1912 and by which it was inspired for its first 60 years. Moreover, I knew that only negotiations could give us the freedom we sought, for the military insurrection based on the notion of an armed struggle against the mighty South African army and the apartheid regime would have been futile, while turning the country to ashes, leaving little for all of us to enjoy after liberation.
Nonetheless, I and my colleagues conducted Inkatha’s activities in close co-operation with the rest of the ANC leadership until 1979, as I have mentioned, when the schism between the ANC and Inkatha took place on the two fundamental policy issues of the armed struggle and international sanctions against South Africa. On the occasion of this important celebration, it might be unnecessary to mention who was right and who was wrong, and whether indeed the armed struggle and sanctions achieved much in securing the demise of apartheid, and to offset the enormous costs they imposed on our economy and the untold suffering they imposed on our people, which I tried my best to avoid.
It shall suffice to say that my position was dictated by my conscience and by no other interest than serving the needs of the people on the ground, with whom I have spent all my life and whom I saw suffering day in and day out. I took a principled position which I believed then, as I do now, to be the right one, and did so in the interests of our people and our country, which never allowed me to see any South African as an enemy to be defeated or a terrorist to be banned. We knew that in the end we had to come together as South Africans and together reveal the country which could extend to all its sons and daughters benefits and prosperity which have, until now, been reserved for a privileged few.
It was shocking for me to see that the consequence of my decision was that the armed struggle became directed against my people, giving rise to a fratricidal black-on-black conflict which claimed the lives of over 20 000 black people, when only a reported 600 white people died because of the armed struggle. This proves the tragedy of a conflict which turned our own energies against us and brought misery and regressive positions where we should have built enthusiasm and progress. Townships were made ungovernable and our black education system was destroyed, creating a lasting legacy of rebellion, lawlessness and social disintegration which we have not yet fully redressed. More importantly, communities were turned against themselves, established and traditional leadership was challenged and often undermined to be replaced by new leaders who, at times, were the product of rebellion and armed conflicts. The hearts and minds of people were turned to hatred. Because of all this, since 1994 my greatest concern has been that of reconciling our people and healing the wounds created by the armed struggle.
I felt that it was important for people on the ground to see the reconciliation of their leaders and that President Mandela and I first, and then President Mbeki and I, could work well together to rebuild the country. We hoped that the example we gave could induce people who had been divided by almost two decades of war not only to reconcile, but also to become friends with those who once were their enemies, and join hands with them in bringing about the work of development. For this reason, in 1996, I called for the commencement of a revolution of goodwill which would bring people together at community level, in spite of political affiliations, religious differences and personal views, to work together to improve on their communities and create development from the bottom up. I pointed out that government by itself cannot produce and secure the type and measure of development which is so needed to redress the plight of the majority of our people. To me, the cause of reconciliation between the ANC and the IFP is the very cause of development and progress in South Africa.
I am saddened by the fact that in spite of joint efforts which both the ANC and the IFP leadership have mounted since 1994 in order to heal the wounds inflicted on the South African body politic, that it has up to now not yet been healed. To me this is an indictment on all of us. It seems to me as if there are some in the high echelons of our leadership who are not as determined as all of us should be to heal this wound.
Reconciliation has come very far, but unfortunately not far enough. It has not gone far enough within the highest echelons of government as it has not gone far enough at grassroots level. Tensions and political assassinations continue to poison community efforts for development in some areas of KwaZulu Natal and Gauteng. The provincial government of KwaZulu Natal is often undermined by internal squabbles amongst those who should be equally committed to act with unity of purpose and vision to promote development. Similarly, the co-operation between President Mbeki and I has been good, but we cannot ignore that we have encountered significant difficulties both in terms of policies and from the point of view of our relationship, especially in respect of certain issues which have been fully canvassed in the national debate. For this reason, on this important occasion, it is incumbent on us to recommit ourselves to the cause of reconciliation and to the completion of our unfinished agenda, with more determination than we have displayed so far.
There is no alternative to reconciliation, as there is no alternative to focusing more on the development of our country and the upliftment of our people. At times, this may require that we disagree, but we cannot for that reason ever accept that our disagreement makes us disagreeable and sets back both the cause of reconciliation as well as the work of development. Like many people within the ANC, I am not satisfied that we have achieved as much as we should have in our struggle for liberation, believing that much more must be achieved to bring progress, development and prosperity to all our people and to turn South Africa into the powerful, prosperous and enlightened country which it could rightly be. I feel it is my responsibility to sing the praises for that which our government has achieved, but I must also point out the shortcomings and the situations in which I feel we have followed the wrong policies or taken the wrong actions. I do so because I am as committed now to the principles, vision and objectives on which the ANC was first founded as I was half a century ago.
I am committed to the struggle for liberation which requires of us to accept that we move in the same direction, even though we might have different views and different understandings of how we can achieve our intended destination. I will continue to play my role in accordance with the dictates of my conscience, the wisdom of our people and the original inspiration of our liberation struggle.
To the ruling Party of South Africa, we express our felicitations to the leadership and membership of the ANC on the 90th anniversary of its founding.
On this occasion, I call on all of us to rally in the celebration of the founding of the ANC which is indeed the turning point which made the history of South Africa issue a promise for a better future for all. That promise is not yet fulfilled, but we are all equally bound by it and I hope that in the celebration we shall hold together on the 100th year of the founding of the ANC, we shall be in a position to formally declare that 100 years later, the promise that South Africa can provide a free and dignified life to all its children, has finally been fulfilled.