Lunch With the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung
Remarks By Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP
President of the Inkatha Freedom Party
in the Republic of South Africa and
Traditional Prime Minister to the Zulu Monarch and Nationbr>


 Berlin: 15 November 2011 

 

In my sixty years of political career and the responsibilities of Government, there have been only a few elements of continuity and constancy. One of these has been my solid friendship and relationship with the Konrad Adenauer Foundation. Therefore, I find it most appropriate for me to be in your midst on this occasion, to thank you all not only for the hospitality extended to me during this trip, but also for so many years of friendship and support.

 

It is an often-used cliché to refer to a friendship having passed the test of time. The fact is that our friendship has passed much more than the test of time, as it has endured also the tests of fire and political difficulty. I shall never forget the partnership we forged during the difficult years of the Cold War and how important that partnership was in forging a path which South Africa could walk to reach its peaceful transformation towards liberation and democracy. 

History has not fully acknowledged the paramount importance of the pages of history which we have written together. But that shall not prevent us from claiming the credit due to us and recollecting what we have done together.

 

The world has changed a lot since the days of the Cold War and few people realise the challenges confronting us then. Germany was divided into two countries, West and East Germany, and it was West Germany that was the strongest bastion against the expansion of the Soviet Empire into Europe.  In Africa, the Soviets were militarily present throughout Southern Africa in a bid to take political and military control of the Southern part of our continent.

 

Through the Cubans, they were present in Angola, financing and fuelling the civil war there, as well as the military operations in Namibia. They were actively involved in the civil war in Mozambique. 

They were training South African liberation fighters under the command of the ANC in Tanzania and other African countries, while providing military training and political assistance to ANC leaders in exile, most of whom were card-carrying communist members.

 

It is difficult to relate those circumstances to the present day, as people have changed and the changes of history have placed in a different light the same people, their agendas and motivations. But the fact is that, in most of the Western world, the ANC was regarded as a terrorist organisation and Nelson Mandela was never recognised with the status of a political prisoner, not even by Amnesty International. Yet, I held in South Africa more rallies than anyone else calling for the liberation of Nelson Mandela, the unbanning of the ANC and the liberation of all those incarcerated in South Africa on account of their political opinions and ANC membership.

 

I did this while working hard with international partners, including the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, Chancellor Helmut Kohl, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and Presidents Jimmy Carter, George H. Bush and Ronald Reagan, to ensure not only the liberation of South Africa, but also a non-communist outcome to the liberation struggle of South Africa.

 

At the time, the ANC was pursuing the impossible dream of a military victory over the Apartheid regime. This dream was fuelled by the Soviets' military and financial support. Had the Soviet influence and military manoeuvring moved from Angola, Mozambique and Namibia into South Africa, the whole of Southern Africa would have become a huge conflict area. Had the Soviets got any closer to winning such huge conflict, it would have been impossible for the Western world not to intervene, transforming Southern Africa into another Vietnam in a conflict with stakes much higher than those in Vietnam, as South Africa supplied to the West sixteen strategic minerals and controlled maritime routes from East to West. A conflict in Southern Africa would have escalated way beyond what Vietnam was ever feared to be or become.

 

It was under these conditions that we worked together to ensure that the international sanctions imposed on South Africa would not cripple our country, delivering it to mass insurrection and an inevitable communist outcome to its liberation dilemma. I took a firm stand in opposing international sanctions against South Africa and the campaign aimed at forcing Western companies to disinvest from South Africa.

 

I was proud that, together, we achieved a constructive policy which enabled German companies such as Mercedes Benz to maintain their investment in South Africa and assist the country. History proved me right, as sanctions did not affect the survival and welfare of Apartheid and the affluent white community, but only damaged the poorest of the poor, whom I represented.

 

At that time, the Konrad Adenauer Foundation worked with us to establish the Inkatha Institute in Durban, which provided immense assistance in organising the black masses for political action aimed at their liberation, but outside the parameters of a communist insurrection.

 

We also brought about another result of immense importance. With the assistance I received from many quarters, including the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, I began the process of creating institutional venues where intellectuals, opinion-makers and leaders of our then deeply divided society could meet and discuss a shared future, irrespective of race and religion. Until I did so, it was impossible and inconceivable for blacks and whites to sit together to plan their future as peers and friends. This was the process which, over twenty years, matured to create the conditions which enabled all South Africans to sit together, irrespective of race, to forge a shared, common destiny when they negotiated for two years our democratic constitution at the World Trade Centre.

 

In 1980 I launched the Buthelezi Commission which was predicated on the firm belief that black and white South Africans could work together to forge a shared and mutually beneficial future. At the time this was immensely politically incorrect, not only for the white community - which did not see why it should share its life, riches and country with the black community - but also for many segments of the black community who saw white South Africans not as compatriots, but as enemies to be defeated.

 

The commitment we began in the Buthelezi Commission finally led to the KwaZulu Natal Indaba of 1986, which brought together intellectuals, businessmen and politicians throughout South Africa and across racial divides. The Report of the Commission was so compelling that, even though it refused to give us a Joint Legislative Authority, the Apartheid regime was nonetheless forced to concede to us the establishment of the KwaZulu and Natal Joint Executive Authority, which was the first interracial government in the history of South Africa. In that Government, both black and white learned a lot about one another and proved that we could work together as South Africans in our common interest, laying the foundation for what had to come.

 

In this process, the Konrad Adenauer Foundation and the Inkatha Institute worked with me to build the many invisible bridges which consolidated over the years and made it possible for future political developments to take place, ranging from the formation of the UDF to the final holding of all-inclusive negotiations leading to the constitutional settlement of 1994 and our first democratic elections.

 

Obviously what really allowed all this to happen was Mikhail Gorbachev's Perestroika, which led to the fall of the Berlin Wall; all of which deprived the ANC not only of its Soviet master, but also of any hope of achieving liberation by any means other than a negotiated settlement. In the end, the ANC had to accept that the only way to achieve liberation was as I had suggested time and again for so many years, namely through negotiations, negotiations, negotiations.

 

After liberation, the Inkatha Institute became a think-tank for opposition parties, and changed its name to the Democracy Development Project. It provided an immensely important function as it enabled leaders of political parties to have a confidential venue in which to meet and discuss politics. One cannot fully appreciate how the divisions of Apartheid made strangers out of South Africans who suddenly found themselves having to work together.

 

Thereafter, the Development Democracy Project was extended to also include the ANC, and became an all-inclusive forum which continued to receive a continuous flow of assistance from the Konrad Adenauer Foundation. However, just as every instrument has a purpose within its own season, as the years went by this function of the DDP was no longer required, and its political role faded away to develop into a capacity building role within local government.

 

One should not underestimate the importance of this role, as most of South Africa established local government structures for the first time in our history and tens of thousands of people were called upon to serve as municipal councillors, municipal managers and municipal staff without any prior training or experience, under brand new laws of a complexity never before witnessed in our legal system.

 

The role of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation in making all this happen has created an everlasting legacy of democracy-building there where it perhaps matters the most, at the local level.

 

Hand in hand with this effort, the Konrad Adenauer Foundation worked very closely with me and my colleagues to produce academic material which explained to the world the functions of traditional leadership and traditional councils within an African system of local government. 

This effort fed into many seminars and workshops over the years, which enabled South Africans to understand and appreciate realities of their own country which they perceived to be totally foreign to them.

 

The documentation provided in these efforts remains unique to the whole of Africa and will undoubtedly be used throughout Africa to deal with what is one of Africa's most common societal features, and one of the most important elements of governance at the local level. Again, even in this respect, the Konrad Adenauer Foundation built bridges where none existed and where no one was able or willing to build them.

 

The other aspect for which I am very grateful to the Konrad Adenauer Foundation is the assistance it provided to me when, in my capacity as Minister of Home Affairs, I pursued the agenda of democratising South Africa throughout my ten years of office. The most important challenge I faced was that of providing my country with a suitable electoral law. I established a Commission headed by the late Dr van Zyl Slabbert and comprising some of South Africa's best minds.

 

This commission was heavily assisted by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation and proposed a new electoral law closely resembling the German system, which combines proportional representation with constituencies. 

Unfortunately this law was rejected by the ANC Cabinet exactly because it increased the accountability of elected representatives and made our system more democratic. However, the findings of the Commission and the bills it drafted remain part of our national record and will undoubtedly re-emerge in legislative proposals of the future.

 

I should praise and thank the Konrad Adenauer Foundation for many other activities and projects in which we have jointly been involved since 1994. But this would require much more time than is allowed by this occasion. It should suffice to say that what we have done together in the past has been of immense importance for South Africa.

 

However, the job is not finished, either for me or for the Konrad Adenauer Foundation. The greatest challenges lie ahead. We must continue to build bridges amongst South Africans who remain deeply divided.

 

The latest initiative which I have sponsored through my colleagues and associates is the establishment of a Parliamentary Institute of South Africa, PISA, which brings together former and serving Members of Parliament in a confidential dialogue with captains of industry, academics, diplomats, journalists, religious leaders and opinion-makers. PISA combines the features of the British Chatham House, the American Council of Foreign Relations and the German Parliamentary Society.

 

I was very pleased that this initiative was again supported by the German Government through the GIZ, which organised a trip for its founders to Germany where they met the Vice-Chancellor, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the President of the Parliamentary Society. The GIZ is sponsoring the launch of PISA in ten days, on the 25th of November, and has given us assurances that it will be the catalyst to promote the participation of German foundations in the future activities of PISA.

 

PISA's first activity will be on the 26th of November and will consist of a high-level symposium on climate change, which will aim to give political direction to the South African negotiators participating in COP 17 the following week. For next year, PISA is planning four additional symposiums, which I sincerely hope will see the involvement of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, so that we may continue to build those bridges which have enabled our democracy to flourish up to this point, in an environment in which rationality, pragmatism and common sense prevail over the many destructive ideologies and tendencies which unfortunately are still at work and deeply rooted in my country.

 

The job is not complete and I will carry forward the mission that history has bestowed on me. I hope that, in so doing, I may continue to count on my friendship with the Konrad Adenauer Foundation; a friendship which has indeed passed the test of time and the test of courage under fire.