Debate On The 2012 Centenary Of The ANC
By MB Gwala MPL - Leader Of The Official Opposition In KZN


 

KwaZulu-Natal Legislature Pietermaritzburg: 11 August 2011

 

Honourable Speaker

 

At the launch of the ANC's Centenary celebrations at Constitution Hill on the 15th July 2011, IFP President Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi declared that the IFP was joining the ruling party's centennial celebrations cognisant of the roots that our party has in its own roots in the events of 8 January 1912. We are indeed proud of this shared heritage, for we, unlike the ANC itself, have throughout our existence as a political movement, remained true to the original message of 1912.

 

When Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi founded Inkatha yeNkululeko yeSizwe, the National Cultural Liberation Movement, in 1975, we made it clear that Inkatha was structured on the ideals of the African National Native Congress as propounded by its founding fathers in 1912. We have remained more loyal to these ideals, more than any other liberation movement.

 

As an expression of our common heritage, in September 1984 Inkatha erected a tombstone in honour of the late Dr Pixley ka Seme, who was Prince Buthelezi's uncle and the founder of the ANC. The tombstone was built on his grave in Johannesburg. We unveiled it with great dignity on 14 September 1984.

 

Before Inkatha was founded, Prince Buthelezi consulted with Mr Oliver Tambo, who was then the President of the African National Congress, and he supported the founding of such a membership based organisation. When Prince Buthelezi was summoned to Pretoria by the then Minister of Police, Minister Jimmy Kruger, in September 1977, he presented a memorandum in which we made it quite clear that Inkatha was founded on the ideals of the ANC.

 

History records that Mr Tambo and our leader, Prince Buthelezi, remained in constant contact during Mr Tambo's time as President of the ANC-in-exile and consulted on many important issues. In October of 1979 delegations of our two parties met in London and held discussions for two and half days on the thorny issues of international sanctions and the call for disinvestment and the beginning of an armed struggle.

 

Our delegations could not reach agreement. Instead, Inkatha made it clear that we would adhere to the principle of the founding fathers of the ANC that our liberation struggle be conducted through non-violence. That is why we claim today that we, not the ANC, are the true representatives of the events of 1912. By the same token, it is without any qualms that we believe the centenary of the founding of the ANC is a celebration that involves the IFP as well, and the whole liberation struggle even by other political formations.

 

It is most unfortunate that our two organisations have not reached full reconciliation to this day. As far as we are concerned, endless efforts have been made to broach the issue of reconciliation between the IFP and the ANC and many promises have been made, but not yet kept by leaders of the ruling party.

 

Instead of reconciliation, numerous insults have emanated from the ranks of the ANC Youth League, most notably from Mr Julius Malema and Mr Bheki Mtolo. These insults are probably the product of a general lack of information about the IFP's role in the struggle for the liberation of our country, combined with a lack of tolerance towards opposition emanating within the ranks of the ANC. This sad state of affairs is also a reflection on the calibre of leadership of the ANC's youth wing today.

 

Notwithstanding all these difficulties, the IFP is part and parcel of the centennial of the ANC by virtue of a history that cannot be changed. For this reason, when the ANC's National Chairperson, Ms Baleka Mbete, invited the IFP President to attend the July 15 launch of the centennial celebrations of the ANC, he readily agreed.

 

This centennial is too important an occasion to deal only with the past, and not also with the future. If the centennial fails to address outstanding issues amongst our parties and within our society, a great opportunity will be missed.

 

The centennial celebration must therefore offer the opportunity to complete the process of reconciliation between the IFP and the ANC and to rectify the record of history from the many distortions and downright falsehoods created in the eighties and kept alive even today.

 

There are also other fractures within society that the remembrance of 1912 ought to heal. The ANC should revisit the foundations upon which it was established as a liberation movement and base its future policies on them.

 

We truly wonder what the founding fathers of the ANC would make of the ANC's persistent failure to address widespread poverty, unemployment, crime and corruption in our country since 1994 when it won political power and with it an opportunity to realise the vision of 1912.

 

I thank you.

 

Contact: Mr Blessed Gwala, 083 693 4600