INTERNATIONAL BERLIN GATHERING
JOHANNESSTIFT, BERLIN - SPANDAU : Thursday 18 May 2000
I wish to thank Mr Rudolf Decker for including me when he, Dr Hans Schwuppe, Dr Hans-Jochen Vogel and Dr Jurgen Warnke, decided to extend an invitation to the participants of this 5th International Berlin Gathering. I am humbled to be on the list of your invitees, who include such distinguished luminaries from other parts of the world.
It gives me great pleasure to speak to such a distinguished audience on one of the most crucial themes of the 21st century. The 20th century will forever be remembered as the age of history in which mankind excelled in the practice of mass destruction and killing. It closed a millennium equally characterised by untold human suffering caused by the blind and irresponsible pursuance of power, wealth and personal and national aggrandizement. However, in its last hours, the 20th century produced a new vision of societal organisation and international relations based on responsibility and reconciliation, which promises to be the most important part of its legacy upon which a new century and a new world order, and indeed a new order of centuries, can be founded. We trust that the 21st century may be the era of responsibility and reconciliation.
I am proud that my country, South Africa, has had the privilege of writing one of the last and perhaps most salient pages of the message of responsibility and reconciliation which, at the twilight of the 20th century, was bequeathed upon posterity. It is with humility, but awareness, that I come to this distinguished forum to share our experience, because perhaps more than many others in my country, I had the invidious privilege of having to make difficult personal and political choices hanging in the balance between responsibility and reconciliation on the one hand, and conflicts and confrontation on the other.
For this reason, I wish to bring to this gathering the contribution of my personal experience of the difficult process of our struggle for liberation from the oppression of colonialism and apartheid. By no means is my personal experience necessarily the most relevant aspect of South African history, but it is the only one for which I can bear testimony. Over a forty year period, I have had to make difficult choices which, for me, marked a most arduous and extremely lonely political path, often characterised by vilification, attempted assassinations and isolation. However, I bear testimony to the fact that righteousness does indeed triumph when pursued for long enough, for after many years I have had the satisfaction of receiving recognition for the correctness of the choices I have made in the name of responsible reconciliation.
I hope that my message at this gathering may underscore a point which is often dismissed by political scientists reflecting upon present political dynamics. I believe that at crucial junctures we, as political leaders and leaders of nations, are presented with an opportunity to make momentous choices. Those choices do not often present themselves, for the dynamics of politics and human events are often cast in a predetermined flow which one may not easily redirect. However, there are political and crucial times when we, as leaders, have the opportunity to draw from our principles and make principled decisions irrespective of the short-term consequences. My message is that, on such occasions, one must apply one's own principles to the full measure, without reservations or compromises, when convinced that in so doing one is serving the higher call of the spirit which governs mankind's evolution.
I was born into a legacy which was not a matter of my choice. My lineage traces back to King Senzangakhona, the father of King Shaka, the founder of the Zulu Nation. My maternal great-grandfather was King Cetshwayo who stood up to the British colonial power until the battle of Ulundi of 1879, when more red jackets were deployed to subjugate the fierce Zulu Kingdom than those deployed to conquer the whole of India. My paternal great-grandfather, Mnyamana Buthelezi, was the Kingdom's Prime Minister and Commander-in-Chief of all the Zulu Regiments in that Anglo-Zulu War. His son, Mkhandumba Buthelezi, my grandfather, participated in the famous battle of Isandlwana, where the Zulu Regiments defeated the British army on the 22nd of January 1879. My maternal grandfather was King Dinuzulu who was exiled on the island of St. Helena because of the Zulu rebellion in 1906. Since birth, I was trained in this legacy which inspired my personal struggle for the emancipation of my people. Two of my mother's brothers, King Solomon ka Dinuzulu and Prince Mshiyeni ka Dinuzulu, were born on the Island of St Helena during their father's exile there.
However, as a young man I immersed myself in the cultural milieu of Fort Hare University and the ANC Youth League, having the great leader and ANC President and a Nobel Prize winner, Chief Albert Lutuli, as my mentor. At the time, our liberation movement was deeply rooted in a strategy of non-violence and passive resistance, which is quintessential to our African nature and found an immediate affinity with the message that Mahatma Gandhi propagated when he began his political activities in South Africa.
In pursuance of the political vocation I had adopted, I studied law and was subjecting myself to post-graduate legal training to become a lawyer, which at the time was a unique achievement for a black man in apartheid South Africa. It was at that time that my political mentors, including the ANC President Chief Albert Lutuli, Walter Sisulu and Oliver Tambo, and his partner in a legal firm, Nelson Mandela, convinced me to abandon my chosen legal career in Durban to return to my homestead to take up my hereditary position as the Inkosi, or traditional leader, of the Buthelezi Clan first, and later the traditional Prime Minister of our Kingdom. It was a difficult personal choice which opened the path for the even more arduous choices to come.
Under international pressure, the colonial and racial oppression developed a system of indirect rule which became known as apartheid. Each of the many nations of which South Africa comprises was given a separate government to provide for their people. With the segmentation and separation of the government came the separation of the territory, and black people were forcibly removed from what little land they managed to preserve from ravaging colonisation, and relegated to infertile land. Throughout the liberation movement there was immediate rejection of the new territorial authorities established for black people. However, I was requested by the leadership of the ANC to accept the proposal made to me by the Zulu people to lead them within the framework of the territorial authority established for the Zulu nation. It was a dramatic decision, for I knew that my position in the liberation movement might have been jeopardized. However, I was convinced of the necessity of such a decision which would enable the liberation movement to utilise the structures of apartheid for our own purposes. As a loyal young member of the ANC, I could not defy the top leadership of the ANC, as well as my mother Princess Magogo ka Dinuzulu. This was a formidable combination of very powerful forces on me as a young man of only 23 years.
Since 1972, for almost thirty years, the fact that I had accepted to head the Zulu Territorial Authority at the request, and with the consensus, of the ANC leadership was kept secret. I, however, kept contact with the then President of the ANC, Dr Oliver Tambo, throughout these years until 1979, the centenary year of the Anglo-Zulu War. After 1980 when the ANC began targeting me as the opponent in its quest for power through military action, I was not in a position to make such a revelation which coming from my quarters, could have hardly been believed. I had to wait until 1998 when President Mandela began publicly disclosing this fact, which was then often confirmed by himself, President Mbeki and the more senior ANC leadership, and is now a generally accepted fact of our history. However, because of that decision, from 1980 onwards I was targeted with a vicious campaign of vilification, and my support basis became the object of extensive murderous violence. That decision was a principled one which I made irrespective of its consequences, and which in the end enabled our liberation movement to succeed.
It was not even because there were any ideological differences between my organisation, Inkatha National Cultural Liberation Movement and the ANC mission in exile. The ANC delegation, led by its President Oliver Tambo, met with me and my Inkatha delegation in London in October 1979. We wrestled for two and a half days on the differences of strategy that existed between our two organisations. Because of the intransigence of the apartheid regime, the ANC had embarked on the armed struggle but I could not embrace their strategy of taking up arms. The ANC had also decided to advocate economic sanctions and disinvestment against South Africa. I and my organisation could also not agree to pursuing that strategy because we feared that it would devastate the very victims of apartheid, the poorest of the poor.
However, these ANC decisions were endorsed with enthusiasm by the international community, the Organisation of African Unity, by the Anti-Apartheid Movement in the West and by the South African Council of Churches at home, which mobilised the support of churches in Europe and the United States, including the World Council of Churches. My conscience did not allow me to buckle, even under such enormous pressure, or even for reasons of political expediency to jump on what became an international bandwagon. I knew that I would become a pariah of those ascribing to the simplified morality of political correctness. I was indeed portrayed by all these very powerful forces as "the enemy of the people" and vilified as the ultimate pariah.
I state that my decision of 1972 was crucial to the success of our liberation movement not with hubris, but because this conclusion was reached by our very opponents. When the apartheid regime wanted me to participate in negotiations about a new dispensation, I refused to do so. I said to President de Klerk that this was non-negotiable, and that President Mandela and other political prisoners would first have to be released and those in exile allowed to return, before I could be involved in any negotiations. In February 1990 when President de Klerk announced the release of President Mandela, I was the only person he mentioned by name as having helped him to reach that decision. When President de Klerk gave evidence before the Truth and Reconciliation Committee, he told the Commission that it was my rejection of the so-called "independence" which the regime offered to the Zulu Nation, which made them abandon apartheid. In fact, apartheid's final intention was that of giving to all black nations nominally independent governments and states so that the white minority could be seen as only ruling over itself and not over an oppressed and disenfranchised black majority. Even if nominally independent and with own powers and administration, these governments were hamstrung and de facto subject to Pretoria.
As the Chief Minister of KwaZulu, I refused to take the route of nominal independence and deprive my nation of our common South African citizenship. Neither the entire might of the South African defence forces and its security apparatus, nor the lure of the prestige and benefits of the presidency of a nominally independent state, could bend me. I was strengthened in my resolve by the knowledge that I had paid too high a personal price for the decision I made when I became the head the Zulu Territorial Authority, not to see it through to its final results.
Throughout my commitment in public life, which has spanned more than half a century, I have always relied on the inspiration and guidance of the principles of my Christian faith. Whenever I had to make a difficult call, I fell back on the inspiration which my faith gives me. I think that this feature is essential for any leader who wishes to embrace the call for responsibility and reconciliation which is today's humanity's heartbeat. However, I do not say that only the Christian faith may provide such an inspiration. Having lived in a country characterised by different and distinct faiths, ways of life and traditions, I have had the opportunity to meet many principled leaders and real political soul mates who were of different faiths and values. The important thing is that leaders are expected to express values and principles and, throughout their careers, they are held accountable to be consistent with that which they profess. Too often, people accept that politics has become the art of bending principles for convenience or expediency.
I had relied on my Christian faith when I had to make the most difficult decision of my life. After the ANC, the PAC and other political parties had been banned because of their having resorted to violence and bombings to pursue our liberation cause, in 1975 I established Inkatha yeNkululeko, and did so in consultation with the ANC leadership which was by then in exile. I was also encouraged to do so by my Bishop and uncle, the Rt. Reverend Alphaeus Zulu, who later became the President of the World Council of Churches. Under the guise of a cultural movement, Inkatha was the home for the political mobilisation of all the black masses struggling for our liberation. Under its banner I held hundreds of rallies throughout the country calling for the release of Nelson Mandela and other leaders who were in prison, and we ran many non-violent campaigns of civil disobedience and passive resistance. With two million paid up members, Inkatha was then the driving force of our movement.
In the following years, the ANC leadership in exile had successfully rallied unprecedented international support for the cause of liberation from apartheid, both from the then deeply divided eastern and western blocks. An unprecedented political network developed throughout the western world, raising massive financial, intellectual and logistical resources to be deployed in support of our liberation movement. The eastern block provided military supplies, technical training and logistical capacity. The struggle against apartheid was indeed the cause celebre in the Cold War environment, as it signified both the struggle against colonial oppression and against social injustice. Against this backdrop the ANC leadership in exile sought to readjust our liberation strategy to respond to the demands of this expanding anti-apartheid international network, and I believe that, to a certain extent, our struggle became entangled in the dynamics of the Cold War.
I knew that if I, the Zulu nation and Inkatha had embraced the armed struggle, South Africa would have been reduced to ashes. My lineage of warriors taught me that one does not engage in a war when there are no spoils. My lineage also recalled a long-lasting tradition which has always considered people of European descent as welcome additions to our Zulu Kingdom. We opened our land and our Kingdom to people of European descent because we recognised the value of the contribution they could make towards our common growth and development. I myself am, to a certain extent, the product of the missionary culture in which I was educated. For this reason I refused to consider any of my fellow South Africans as an enemy to be defeated in war, or a foe to be forcibly expunged from our land. As the history of Africa demonstrates all the way up to recent events, once instilled as part of a liberation movement, these seeds of racial hatred may spawn their evil fruits many years down the road with disastrous consequences.
For me the responsibility of choosing reconciliation over confrontation began then. I suggested that we should seek our liberation through negotiations, because in the end we would prevail. Apartheid was doomed because of its internal contradictions which made it unworkable. For this reason, shortly after the London meeting, in 1980 I established the Buthelezi Commission which brought together all the various racial groups of the then divided black KwaZulu, and white and Indian Natal. This process flowed into the subsequent KwaZulu Natal Indaba. The Commission and the Indaba worked together for several years across racial lines which, within the context of the time, was nothing short of unthinkable. It produced an earth-shattering report endorsed by some of our best intellectuals which contained proposals for a joint government in KwaZulu Natal established across racial lines. This report was so compelling that the Pretoria regime could not discard it completely. Even though the proposal for a joint legislative body was rejected, we succeeded in establishing a joint executive authority for both KwaZulu and Natal, which effectively was the first inter-racial government of South Africa.
We pursued this exercise of goodwill and reconciliation against a backdrop of one of the most dramatic pages of South African history. It is a page that the world has chosen to ignore because its full analysis would disclose the unwitting involvement of many well-meaning people whose good deeds ended up contributing to mass murder because of the perverted dynamics of the armed struggle conducted in the Cold War context. A black-on-black conflict developed throughout the country. Those who were not supporting the armed struggle became identified as its enemy and final targets. The figures speak for themselves in their horror and tragedy, for while 600 white people died in the armed struggle ostensibly waged against the white minority regime, in excess of 25,000 black people died in that same struggle at the hands of black people. Thousands and thousands more lost their houses and property.
Fuelled by the influx of money and weapons from abroad, the armed struggle became a tool of political action within the dynamics of the liberation movement. Simply put, those who subscribed to the armed struggle received money and guns and used them to gain a position of leadership within their communities. To this end, they often ousted the existing leadership of such communities which was formed and established through traditional processes. In KwaZulu our traditional structures are particularly strong and cohesive and such attempts were rejected. However, in this process a low intensity civil war ensued. The armed struggle destabilised black rather than white communities to make them ungovernable, and targeted the black rather than the white education system for total disruption. We now have to deal with the problem of a lost generation which did not undergo the necessary training because of the ill-conceived slogan of "Liberation now, education later" which sought to take youth out of the system to mobilise them in support of the armed struggle. The world saw black people utilising the horrifying practice of "necklacing" other black people in which the victim dies in the fire of a rubber tyre attached with wire through the soft flesh of his side. The world did not question such a horrible practice which was ascribed as some form of African savagery. It was not recognised as a tool used, through horror, to subjugate into submission entire communities so that they would fall under a new leadership.
I was under immense pressure to resort to war, violence and intimidation. The structure of my own Party and the structure of my own nation wanted to go to war. Low intensity civil war became endemic in violence-torn areas such as the East Rand near Johannesburg and the Midlands near Pietermartizburg. An ancient conflict created by colonialism in its war against the Zulu Kingdom had given rise to a new strife within the Zulu nation and from there it expanded throughout the country. As I rejected the armed struggle I also did not authorise, order, condone or ever ratify any form of violence into which Inkatha supporters were drawn because of the black-on-black conflict. During fifteen years, about 400 leaders and office bearers of Inkatha were targeted for serial assassination in their houses, work-places and in public, and none of the culprits have yet been convicted of these crimes. Members of my organisation also got involved in the war of attrition which followed, either to wreak vengeance or to pre-empt attacks on themselves and their families.
I have attended innumerable funerals, grieved with thousands of people and witnessed untold human suffering, bearing heavily on my conscience the decision I made to stand by my principles. While the carnage was taking place, I even questioned my own church, some of whose leaders subscribed to the theology of liberation in the name of which it justified the armed struggle as a just war. I went to the head of my church, the Archbishop of Canterbury, to question whether such a war existed and, in reply, I was questioned whether other religious leaders agreed with my position. I was so taken aback by such an answer that I also replied with a question, merely asking whether the religious leaders of the time agreed with Christ. I stood by my principles because I knew that any alternative would have been too ghastly to contemplate. I was proven right because the armed struggle left in its wake the legacy of violence, lack of respect for human life and property and rebellion which now continues to fuel the increasing level of criminality within South Africa. Thousands of our people died in both organisations.
I must also mention how I was vilified because of my opposition to international sanctions and the call for foreign disinvestment. I knew that such a tactic would be a fatal blow to the poorest of the poor in our country and have only a minimal impact on the demise of apartheid. I was right on both counts, for the apartheid economy reorganised itself and flourished in spite of a shrunken economic base which created widespread poverty amongst black people. To this day, we are still struggling to reverse the negative impact of sanctions, for we have not yet regained the investments we lost, or bridged the set-backs caused in our economic development because of sanctions and international commercial isolation.
In the late 80's, an internal political movement, the United Democratic Front, was established to mobilise people as a front of the ANC in exile. The UDF identified me and Inkatha as their main enemy and proceeded to vilify me for several years, styling me as a sell-out, an enemy of the people and even a collaborator of apartheid. Their connection with international circles far removed from our reality made such vicious propaganda a powerful tool against me. The armed struggle, the UDF, international support and international sanctions had become tools of political action not only to promote the demise of apartheid, but mainly to secure the political hegemony of their promoters after liberation.
I give this historical background to explain my situation and the situation of my Party when in 1990 the process of transition from apartheid to democracy effectively began with the release of Nelson Mandela. In the end, we ended up where I thought we should have begun, at the negotiation table, negotiating, negotiating and negotiating. The complexity of the negotiation process was never understood by the outside world and even by many of the participants. An attempt was made to obliterate the background I described and reduce negotiation to a bilateral issue between a unified righteous black majority and a villainous government representing an oppressive white minority.
Having gone through the process of the Buthelezi Commission and the KwaZulu Natal Indaba, I knew that the tapestry of our problem was much more complicated. For this reason, my Party and I developed a set of constitutional proposals which would profoundly transform South Africa not only from apartheid to democracy, but also from a centralised, autocratic and closed form of government into a system of government moulded around the principles of federalism, maximum devolution of power, pluralism, free market enterprise and protection of the autonomy and pre-eminence of civil society. These are the principles I have always espoused and advocated throughout my political career.
My proposals were disregarded out of hand. We did succeed in introducing into the new institutional and constitutional formula of South Africa some elements of provincial autonomy and some additional checks and balances, but we fell short of achieving our goal which was that of ensuring that never again would a unitary state be superimposed on a nation of nations. We also knew that the concentration of powers and the preservation of the autocratic and authoritarian elements of the apartheid government would not be conducive to a genuinely African and truly modern state. The creation of such a state is Africa's greatest challenge, for many of the social and institutional evils which have plagued our continent in its post liberation stages, may be traced to the type of state imposed by European powers on our existing African structures. This type of state has undoubtedly created modernity and good administration, but has also brought about the concentration of power to which traditional African culture has not been accustomed.
The negotiation process was very unsatisfactory for me and my Party and this dissatisfaction was compounded by years of violence and intimidation which promised to flow straight into the electoral process and the electoral results. A long list of constitutional issues remains unresolved, amongst them the recognition of the Zulu Kingdom as one of the entities and building blocks of which a genuinely free South Africa has to comprise. It was the intention of my Party to have nothing to do with such an election and with the transition process which had developed under the exclusive impulse of the then ruling National Party and the ANC. This bilateralism had eliminated our items from the agenda, including the constitutional issues and the settlement of the violence and vilification of the previous years. In the meantime, violence against us continued unabated. In this context, enormous pressures were on me to avoid entering the elections and contending in a process which was flawed and doctored against us since the outset.
It was another of those tragic moments of my life in which I had to make a principled decision of long-lasting consequences. It would interest this great gathering to hear that when I and my Party had decided not to participate in the first democratic elections in 1994, God was again to show His power in an amazing way. All of us feared that if KwaZulu Natal, a Province with the largest population in South Africa, did not participate in the election, a blood-bath would result. Just at this point in time, Professor Washington Okumu of Kenya, whom I had met nearly two decades before at a National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, appeared on the scene. He had been a student of Dr Henry Kissinger, who had been chosen as one of the people to carry out international mediation on the very issues that had caused a stalemate. When Dr Kissinger, and other international mediators, had packed and left South Africa, Professor Washington Okumu offered to speak to President de Klerk, then Head of State, to Mr Mandela and to me. I was not very optimistic. However, a miracle happened when an Agreement was signed by the three of us to the effect that my Party would take part in the elections, but that as soon as possible after elections, international mediation would take place on the position of the Zulu King and other outstanding issues.
We therefore participated in the elections against this solemn promise which was put in place in April 1994 but which aborted when wrecked by the leader of the ANC constitutional delegation, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa, who then became the Chairman of the Constitutional Assembly, and the chief negotiator of the National Party, Mr Roelf Meyer.
On that basis, I and my Party entered the elections, rolling over unsolved problems and believing that, through reconciliation, these issues could finally be put to rest. It was an inspired decision which had, however, to be tested against very trying challenges. In fact, soon after elections the solemn promise to resume international mediation was blatantly breached without justification or excuse. One aspect of the agreement was that a constitution would be adopted for the province of KwaZulu Natal, which was finally passed in March 1995 with the full support of all the parties, including the ANC. However, within a matter of weeks the ANC completely turned around and rejected it, opposing its certification by the Constitutional Court, which prevented that constitution from ever coming into force.
Under these conditions there was enormous pressure within my Party to withdraw our participation from the new democratic institutions. In terms of the interim Constitution, a Government of National Unity was established to foster reconciliation. It stood to reason that we should have withdrawn from such institution in protest. However, we realised that there was just no alternative to the process of reconciliation which had to be pursued at all costs. In our context, my withdrawal from the Government of National Unity would have immediately re-ignited the violence and the conflict at its worst. Even though violence against us did not stop during that period, progress was being made to decrease its levels and begin reconciling warring communities.
My life in the Government of National Unity was not an easy one, for my policies and the policies of my Party remained different from those of the ANC, even though the ANC has considerably moved away from their original policies shaped in a culture of socialism and communism. However the presence of the Communist Party within the alliance which makes up the ANC continues to have a significant bearing on its policy formulation. Issues which were important for me, such as provincial autonomy, privatisation and a more open and dynamic economy, were stifled by the power of the Communist Party and that of a lobby of trade unionists, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) which began growing under the unreasonable trade legislation we adopted. Nevertheless, in spite of fundamental policy differences, we remained in the Government of National Unity and the process of reconciliation continued at grassroots level.
During this difficult time, I was very encouraged by reading 2 Corinthians Chapter 12, verses 8-10:
After the elections of 1999, the process of reconciliation was so entrenched in the culture of our country that co-operation between my Party, the IFP, and the ANC became possible on policy and political grounds. Unfortunately, the violence against us has not yet completely stopped and some of our leaders continue to be targeted for assassination. However, President Mbeki and I have undertaken significant joint steps to reconcile our people, such as the holding of joint rallies in violence-torn areas and the establishment of special committees which are settling disputes between our parties and looking into the conflicts of the past to finally expose the truth of their dynamics. This effort remains more promising than the road-show put in place by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission which might have been of value to expose the dynamics of the conflicts between black and white, but remained clueless in respect of the true nature and extent of the black-on-black conflict.
The interim Constitution which decreed that any Party with more than five per cent could have seats in the Cabinet of the Government of National Unity, expired when the first five years of our democratic government elapsed. However, President Thabo Mbeki invited me for discussions and he told me that he intended having me and IFP Ministers in his Cabinet even after the June 2, 1999 elections, regardless of the result. He went further and told me that he would offer me the position of Deputy President to promote peace and reconciliation and to give time to heal the wounds that our members inflicted on each other during the war of attrition. Indeed, he tried to keep to his promise by offering me the position of Deputy President after the elections. For some reason I could not accept it, but President Mbeki still offered me and two of my colleagues positions as Cabinet Ministers, as well as two Deputy Ministers. We are both aware that there are people in our respective organisations who are opposed to what we are doing, but we are committed to working together for the sake of peace and reconciliation in our country.
Although there is bitterness in my Party because the solemn Agreement we signed with President Mandela and Mr de Klerk was breached, there were eleven occasions on which President Mandela asked me to act as Acting President of South Africa whenever he and Deputy President Mbeki were out of the country. I have also acted twice during the current Presidency of President Thabo Mbeki. All these gestures, which are not applauded by everyone in the ANC, or by everyone in the IFP, are difficult things which are done in the interests of responsibility and reconciliation.
In the Province of KwaZulu Natal, where my Party polled more votes than any other Party both in the 1994 and 1999 elections, we now have a coalition government between my Party, the IFP, and President Mbeki's Party, the ANC. We govern this Province jointly. It is not easy, but it has to be done to implement reconciliation between our people, particularly in KwaZulu Natal which was virtually the theatre of the ugly war of attribution between our members. We realise that it is the most responsible thing for us to do to nurse this very frail coalition to ensure reconciliation and peace.
If we look back at this long road towards reconciliation, we can see how it was paved by the sense of personal responsibility which at crucial times inspired the actions of key leaders. President Mandela did his best to seek this reconciliation and he was the first to agree to hold joint rallies with me in violence-torn areas, but he was then stopped from implementing this decision by leaders within his own Party who had a vested interest in the continuation of the conflict. Although President Mandela signed the Agreement on international mediation, I believe it was not his intention for it to be dishonoured. Even if I cannot exonerate him for the breach of this Agreement, we know that there are people in the ANC who were opposed to it.
President Mbeki had the foresight to conceive a political framework which enables our co-operation at this juncture, in spite of persisting problems and policy differences. He took the unprecedented initiative of addressing the Annual General Conference of my Party in 1998 and finally shared a podium with me in October 1999 in a violence-torn area, when he and I unveiled a monument to nearly 700 people from both our parties who were killed during the war in Thokoza near Johannesburg. We hope that this important gesture may be the beginning of a process of continuing reconciliation which remains far from being completed. All these reconciliation efforts are difficult for us, but both President Thabo Mbeki and I realise that this is the most responsible thing for us to do in the interests of all South Africans. While it is the most pragmatic thing for us to do, I also know that for me as a Believer there is no other route open to me except the route of reconciliation and forgiveness.
Most of all, I hope that through the efforts we have made in promoting reconciliation, we may have given an example to inspire other leaders throughout our society and the leaders who shall serve after us. I firmly believe that this legacy of goodwill is the most important achievement of the past few years. I remain committed to continuing the unfinished work of reconciliation and to work with responsibility through the many difficulties which still remain, before South African society can be deemed to have been normalised into a truly modern and yet truly African democracy. We realise that the road is long and hard, but we are determined to walk it. Please remember us and the people of South Africa in your prayers. I am conscious of the fact that even our achievements have largely been through the prayers of God's faithful people in South Africa and in other parts of the world. Here in Germany, I thank my sisters of the Sisterhood of Mary in Canaan, in Darmstadt, who have prayed for me for decades, ever since I knew them. I also think of my brothers and sisters of the Young Christians on the Offensive in Reichelsheim, who for so long have enabled me to carry my cross. Their Director, Mr Horst Klaus Hofmann, is with us today at this great gathering. He has so often had to bear the brunt of my vilification.
I attach a great deal of importance to prayers. I know throughout all this experience that prayers work. An English poet put it so succinctly, when he stated that more things are achieved through prayers than the world dreams of.
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