African Enterprise - International “Peace In Africa” Conference
Guest Speaker - Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP
President Of The Inkatha Freedom Party
Inkosi Of The Buthelezi Clan
Chairperson: Zululand District Local House Of Traditional Leaders And Traditional Prime Minister Of The Zulu Nation

“The Challenge Of Being A Committed Christian And Politician In Promoting Peace In Africa”

   

 

Pietermaritzburg: 20 September 2010

 

When the leaders of this country gather in the national House of Parliament, before we attend to the business of the day, we observe a moment of silence. In this moment, we are encouraged to pray or meditate as our faiths and consciences dictate. We do not engage in formal prayer, nor do we make a corporate declaration of reliance on God. As a Christian, I use this time to silently seek God’s wisdom and counsel, and to ask that He would guide us as we lead our nation. But I am always left with a sense that this is not enough; that we have somehow missed a profound opportunity to unleash the immeasurable power of God.

 

I understand the need for religious tolerance, particularly in a country whose population is as diverse as ours. I respect the right to freedom of religion, belief and opinion, as enshrined in the Bill of Rights of South Africa’s Constitution. But I also believe that we will never truly express the love Christ called us to display, if we seclude ourselves from one another. For this reason I count myself a friend of Dr Michael Cassidy, as well as a friend of the Dalai Lama, a friend of the Divine Life Society and of the Muslim Judicial Council. 

 

Does it make me any less of a Christian that I befriend those outside the Christian faith? I think not; for Christ sat down to meals in the house of Gentiles and sinners, and we know that when the Pharisees questioned Him, He explained that those who are well have no need of a physician. Wherever we go as Christians, we are ambassadors of Christ, and where else can our lights shine brightly, but in the very midst of the darkness? This has been my reference point all my life, as I have sought to lead and serve my nation.

 

I wish to thank Pastor Kitutu for inviting me and I thank Dr Cassidy and African Enterprise for having me to attend and to speak at this international conference for Peace in Africa. I have been asked to speak about the challenges I have faced as a Christian and a politician as I promoted peace on our continent. Perhaps, before I do so, I should take a moment to tell you a bit about myself and where I fit into the landscape of South Africa and the Church. 

 

I have served my country in leadership positions for more than half a century. I was born into politics, as the son of Princess Magogo kaDinuzulu, the daughter of the King, and Inkosi Mathole Buthelezi, the traditional Prime Minister of the Zulu nation. I was raised at my uncle’s palace, KwaDlamahlahla, where Prince Mshiyeni, who was the Zulu Regent, was often visited by Inkosi Albert Lutuli, Dr JL Dube, Dr Edgar Brookes and other prominent leaders. These men were among the founding leaders of South Africa’s liberation struggle. Inkosi Lutuli later became the President of the African National Congress and I came to regard him as one of my mentors.  I had the privilege of delivering the oration at his funeral.

 

The African National Congress, or ANC, had been founded by my uncle, Pixley ka Isaka Seme, in 1912. It was only natural that when I entered the University of Fort Hare in 1948, I became involved in the ANC’s Youth League. I paid a price for my political activities at Fort Hare University, when I was rusticated together with two other students for staging a boycott against a visit by the Governor General Dr G Brand van Zyl.  Although his position was that of a titular Head of State, we regarded him as the rubber stamp of our oppression. It was the first political price I would pay for having the courage of my convictions, but it would by far, not be the last.

 

In a sense, this was the opening salvo in a lifelong battle in which standing up for what I believed to be right, would cost me dearly. I continued my political activism against oppression and racial discrimination when I left Fort Hare and continued my studies at the University of Natal. It was during my time there that I met Mabel Palmer, Ismail and Fatima Meer.  As a student at Fort Hare University I had met Mr Walter Sisulu – the Secretary-General of the ANC, also Mr Oliver Tambo then a member of the ANC Youth League.  I was later through them to meet Mr Nelson Mandela in Durban, who I later discovered was a friend of my late father-in-law Mr Zacchariah Mzila.  Mr Mandela as a lawyer was later requested by myself to wind up the estate of my father-in-law.

 

It is often thought that when I founded Inkatha yeNkululeko yeSizwe – the National Cultural Liberation Movement in 1975, all communication between myself and the other leaders of the liberation movement somehow stopped. But the truth is that I built solid friendships with many of the leaders of my generation and we worked together for South Africa’s liberation from the moment we cut our political teeth, to the moment in April 1994 when South Africa was declared a democracy. After that, we continued to work together in the Government of National Unity.

 

When the ANC and PAC were banned in 1960, it became clear that the majority in our country would have no political home. I maintained communication with Mr Oliver Tambo, the leader of the ANC’s mission-in-exile, and we met as often as we could, in London, Mangoche, Nairobi, Lagos and Stockholm. We also exchanged emissaries. In 1963, I met with him in London en route to the Anglican Congress in Canada as the lay delegate of the Anglican Diocese of Zululand and Swaziland. When I returned, the South African Government confiscated my passport for 9 years.

 

I was elected Chief Executive Officer of the Zulu Territorial Authority in 1970, and the Government then found it difficult to refuse to give me a passport. Immediately I met Mr Tambo again. I also travelled to the Vatican and met with Pope Paul VI. To date, he is the third Pontiff with whom I have had a private audience. I also travelled to the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany and sought support from world leaders for our liberation struggle. I continued seeking international support when I became Chief Minister of the erstwhile KwaZulu Government, a position I held for 18 years. 

 

I gained a vast deal of experience in administration during that time, and learnt the painfully difficult skill of balancing needs and resources. The Government in KwaZulu was on a shoestring budget and we received proportionally less from the State coffers than any other Homeland Government. Our administration had to work hand in hand with its people in order to meet the vast ocean of need in KwaZulu. Every day, I came face to face with the reality of poverty, distress and hardship. 

 

In a sense, I fell in love with my people during that time, because I saw the very worst in human nature expressed through the apartheid regime juxtaposed with the immeasurable generosity, long suffering and kindness of a people who had nothing. We worked hard to build schools and clinics and houses. There were no government hand outs. Ordinary people; men, women and children, built and ploughed and planted with their own hands. We exhorted communities to pool their meagre resources, and then met them Rand for Rand in development projects.

 

In 1976, at the invitation of former Head of State, General Olusegun Obasanjo, I met with Mr Oliver Tambo in Nigeria. That year, Mr Tambo addressed the United Nations General Assembly as the recognised representative of the South African people, and launched the ANC’s call for international sanctions against South Africa and large scale disinvestment. The following year, the leadership of the ANC on Robben Island agreed to appoint Mr Tambo as the President General of the ANC. It was in that year that guerrilla warfare began in earnest, as the strategy of an armed struggle was launched by the ANC’s mission-in-exile.  

 

This was the ideological divide which eventually opened a chasm between Inkatha and the ANC. How could I possibly accept the call for international sanctions and disinvestment, when I lived every day among the poorest of the poor and saw the pain that poverty inflicted. I knew that sanctions would not substantially affect the minority who were in power, as they would simply consolidate in their laager mentality and form industrial monopolies. It was the poorest who would suffer.  For holding this view I had to pay a big price.

 

Moreover, I believed that damaging the economy of our country was simply damaging the inheritance we would all receive when political liberation was achieved. I was reminded of the instruction in Deuteronomy 20 verse 19: “When you lay siege to a city for a long time, fighting against it to capture it, do not destroy its trees by putting an axe to them, because you can eat their fruit. Do not cut them down.”

 

But if I was firm about our economy, I was nothing short of zealous against an armed struggle. As a Christian, it went against my very core to see blood being shed and lives being lost, particularly for a cause that I knew would eventually be won through negotiations. I made it quite clear that I could not support a violent struggle. I knew my people; they were mothers and sons and uncles and cousins. To my mind, they were not expendable cannon fodder in a war that was being launched from a distance. They were children of God with as much a right to life, as a right to political enfranchisement. 

 

Moreover, this was the view of the founding fathers of the liberation struggle.  When the ANC was launched in 1912, the founding fathers of the ANC committed themselves to the strategy of negotiation and non-violence.  That is why when I founded Inkatha I stated that it was structured in the ideals of the founding fathers in 1912.

 

My stand against international sanctions and the armed struggle met with intense frustration in the ANC. I was one man; but I had behind me the support of close on a million card carrying members of Inkatha. From the very inception of Inkatha, I determined to gauge the actual needs and interests of my people, rather than arrogantly dictating to them what it was they wanted. Listening to the heart of the people, I believe they never wanted an armed struggle.   

 

I held rallies in most provinces.  I had rallies in Durban at Umlazi, in Soweto, in Langa in Cape Town, in Mangaung in Bloemfontein and other venues.  At each rally I would ask the people assembled in their thousands whether I should support sanctions against South Africa and all of them would in one chorus respond with a loud “NO”. One of the jokes I enjoy cracking when I speak to President Zuma these days revolves around the terrible conflict which cost us so many lives, merely because we disagreed on the issue of economic sanctions and disinvestment against South Africa. The governing party, the African National Congress is totally against sanctions against Mr Robert Mugabe and Zimbabwe.  And it is because they argue that it is the poor people of Zimbabwe who are suffering the consequences of sanctions.  And it was for the same reason that I opposed sanctions against South Africa. 

 

I travelled the world to see Heads of State such as Lady Thatcher in the UK, Mr John Major in the UK, President Jimmy Carter in the US, President Ronald Reagan in the US, President George Bush in the US and others to appeal to them not to support the imposition of sanctions against South Africa.  I still thank God that He opened the doors of all these Heads of State for me during a time when my international vilification by the ANC and their allies was also at its height.  I was condemned even by the World Council of Churches and my Bishop and mentor, Bishop Alphaeus Zulu had been its President.

 

Rifts were opening between Inkatha and the ANC on this issue, and in October 1979, Mr Tambo suggested a meeting in London. Seventeen members of Inkatha’s Central Committee accompanied me to that meeting and we sat with leaders of the ANC behind closed doors for two days. In the end, we could just not agree. Within less than a year, the ANC launched a vicious campaign of vilification against me and Inkatha, that would last for several decades. 

 

The armed struggle was not an issue on which anyone could simply agree to disagree. It was emotionally charged and people’s lives literally hung in the balance. It was an extremely difficult time for Christians, because those of us who went against violence and an armed struggle were branded as traitors to our country. There was also no succour within the Church, as the mainline churches, to which I belonged, embraced the notion of a “just war”.

 

The South African Council of Churches produced what became known as the Kairos Document, which suggested that this was a kairos time to engage in violence. Christian leaders were outspoken in their support and often quoted Canon Burgess Carr, who had spoken in Mozambique during the freedom day and suggested that Christ had sanctified violence through the crucifixion. I must admit, my Christianity was challenged during this time.

 

I realize that the Church is not without its periods of violence. One need only think of the Crusades and the bloody tempest they awakened. But in my own heart, in my deepest convictions, I could not find space for violence against my people. I did not consider my people to be only the black majority whom I served in KwaZulu, nor were they limited in my mind to the Zulu nation. My people were all the people of South Africa; the country of my birth and the country for which I was pouring out my passion, my sweat and my tears.

 

In June of 1985, Mr Oliver Tambo addressed a consultative conference of the ANC in Zambia and called on his countrymen to “engulf the apartheid system in the fire and thunder of a people’s war”. At that point, I sought a meeting in London with the Head of the Anglican Communion, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Robert Runcie. In advance of the meeting, I sent a memorandum through the South African Ambassador in which I sought the Archbishop’s guidance on the issue of a “just war”. Theologians had wrestled with this issue for centuries. Was this truly the time?

 

When I arrived at Lambeth Palace for our meeting, the Archbishop had my memorandum in his hand, and before we even sat down he asked me whether other leaders agree with me in opposing the armed struggle. I responded, “Your Grace, you too are a leader. Do other leaders always agree with you?” When he did not respond, I then asked him, “Did everyone agree with Christ?” Needless to say, I did not receive any guidance in that meeting. I had sought the advice of the highest authority in my Church, and found myself on lonely ground.

 

Indeed, loneliness has characterised my Christian walk. I was branded a traitor and a sell out because I would not lead my people into war. It was a very painful time. I thank God for a lady by the name of Dr Anthea Jeffrey, an academic who has engaged in comprehensive research of that period in our history and has written a seminal work called “People’s War”. I would encourage anyone to read it, but particularly those who seek to understand the true dynamics that shaped the violent struggle and internecine low intensity civil war that raged in South Africa during the eighties and early nineties.

 

“People’s War” also details the role of the Church during that time and notes how leaders of the Church expressed their support for the armed struggle. I recall that high profile priests would attend the endless funeral services that were held during that time – let us not forget that 20,000 lives were lost. But the funerals of members of the IFP, Inkatha, saw very few prominent clergymen.

 

It was also difficult for me being poles apart with the head of my Church, Archbishop Desmond Tutu. We were of directly opposing views. At the funeral service of Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe in Graaf Reinet, the founder of the Pan Africanist Congress in 1978, in Graaf Reinet to which I had been invited by Mangaliso Sobukwe’s family through his brother Bishop Ernest Sobukwe and the leaders of the PAC in exile, such as AB Ngcobo and Potlako Leballo, who phoned me from London, an attempt was made on my life during the funeral service by a group of youths. In the aftermath, Archbishop Tutu publically praised these young men, saying they were a new breed of young people with iron in their souls. This from the head of my own Church. Where then could I turn for comfort?

 

When President Nelson Mandela in his Cabinet, of which I was a member, proposed Archbishop Tutu as Chairperson of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, I went on record with my objection, saying that the Archbishop had been a patron of the UDF in the time of conflict. The TRC required a non-partisan leadership. Nevertheless, Archbishop Tutu chaired the TRC. When I appeared before it, I boldly addressed the Chair and said, “Your Grace, I shall not be judged by you. God is my sole judge and I shall be judged by Him alone.”

 

In the end, the TRC concluded that I, in my representative capacity as Chief Minister of the KwaZulu Government and Head of the KwaZulu Police, and as President of the IFP, was responsible for more gross human rights violations than anyone else in South Africa – even though I had never once condoned, sanctioned, authorised or ordered a single violation of human rights. The pronouncement of the TRC was terribly painful for me to bear.

 

Nevertheless, being a Christian is a remarkable thing, because Archbishop Tutu and I still exchange birthday wishes every year. When Mrs Tutu turned 70, I was invited to the celebrations, and I went with nothing but goodwill in my heart. That is the glory of Christ; that no matter what humiliations and trials are heaped upon his children, they are able to forgive. People have often asked me how I have managed to forgive the atrocities committed by the apartheid regime in my country, or the slaughter of my people by members of the ANC. I have even been asked how I could forgive God for taking from me four of my children, two to car accidents and two to HIV/Aids.

 

During the liberation struggle I was still able to enjoy many Christian Fellowship meetings in which Dr Piet Koornhof a member of the apartheid regime was a participant.  Sometimes we met in his house.  And one of these men of God was Bishop Alphaeus Zulu who was once the Chairman of the Board of African Enterprise.  At Yale University in the United States I was castigated by Professor Greenberg for praying with an apartheid government Minister Dr Koornhof.  My response always was that what reason do I have for judging others, if I believe as I do that Christ’s blood was shed for my sins, to say that Christ’s blood was not also shed for the sins of Mr P W Botha (the then Head of the Apartheid Regime).

 

God works in mysterious way.  The low intensity civil war that took place in South Africa between members of the ruling Party the ANC and members of my Party the IFP, almost torpedoed the negotiations for a peaceful settlement in South Africa.  As you know we as the Zulu Nation are a Kingdom.  There was no clarity as to the place of the monarchy as an institution in the new dispensation in the new South Africa.  My Party decided not to participate in the first democratic elections of 1994 because of this situation. 

 

The low intensity civil war was raging even while negotiations were taking place as you can see in Dr Anthea Jeffery’s book – ‘PEOPLE’S WAR’.  And the armed struggle continued to be used as some sword of Damocles by Mr Mandela and the ANC.  I had suggested that there should be some international mediation by international mediators on the issue of the institution of the monarchy. The ANC was opposed to the idea.  But After a meeting we had with Mr F W de Klerk then Head of State, Mr Nelson Mandela the leader of the African National Congress at Skukuza, the well known Kruger Park Conservation Game Reserve, the ANC grudgingly agreed to the idea of bringing in international mediators.

 

The international mediators actually arrived in South Africa.  But sadly, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa – the Secretary-General of the ANC and Mr Roelf Meyer who represented the then governing Party, the National Party, sabotaged the process of international mediation even before it began.  The international mediators included Dr Henry Kissinger, the former United States Secretary of State.  At the time there was present Professor Washington Okumu, who had been brought to South Africa by African Enterprise.  He was present at the Carlton Hotel in Johannesburg when the whole process of international mediation collapsed.  He had been a student of Dr Kissinger.  He and I had met in Washington at the National Prayer Breakfasts.  We had also struck a close friendship as brothers in Christ.

 

Things were grim and the international mediators were returning to their homes overseas without any international mediation taking place. I also left for my home in this Province quite pessimistic about any prospects of there being any peaceful settlement in South Africa.  The erstwhile KwaZulu government which I headed as Chief Minister at the time, had recently bought a jet in which I travelled.  As I drove to Lanseria Airport in Johannesburg to board the jet to my home, I received a message that Professor Washington Okumu wanted to see me at the airport.  I then waited for him for a very long time and he did not arrive. Unfortunately, I had Reverend Sipo Mzimela with me who was a member of my Cabinet and he was due to represent the KwaZulu Government at a meeting that the King had with some Church Leaders who included Archbishop Tutu in Nongoma on that very day.

 

So as Professor Washington Okumu was nowhere to be found I decided that we should leave rather than risk that Reverend Sipo Mzimela misses the appointment with the King.  We then took off.  It was only after the plane had taken off that the pilots told us that we had to go back to Lanseria Airport as there was something wrong with the plane.  This was surprising as this was a brand new jet.  When we got off the plane at Lanseria Airport, there was Professor Okumu as large as life having a cup of tea.  He then took advantage of me getting back and he offered to intervene in the impasse on the issue of international mediation.  He said that if I agreed with him, he would also approach Mr Nelson Mandela and Mr de Klerk. 

 

I agreed that Professor Okumu could go ahead. He then travelled from place to place by plane, seeing Mr Mandela, seeing Mr de Klerk and communicating with me by phone and also meeting me.  Finally Professor Okumu managed to get the three of us to agree to a meeting in Pretoria on the 19th of April 1994.  The first democratic elections were scheduled to take place on the 27th of April 1994.  Mr F W de Klerk , Mr Nelson Mandela and I then signed a peace pact and the agreement was that my organization Inkatha would participate in the general election  on the 27th of April 1994 on the proviso that international mediation would take place as soon as possible after the general election on the 27th of April 1994. 

 

That was God’s intervention in which African Enterprise had a hand.  But sadly that agreement was dishonoured by Mr Mandela and it never took place up to this day.  We were later to be told that the issue of the institution of the Monarchy in this Province was going to be dealt with through the Constitution for the Province of KwaZulu Natal.  That Constitution has never been written as the ruling Party did not want to arrive at the provisions of such a Constitution by consensus and wanted to unilaterally impose its version of the Constitution on the rest of us.

 

However, the agreement we reached on the 19th of April did help us, to have a peaceful entry into the new South Africa.  But the issue of the institution of the monarchy was never sorted out to this day.  Instead the ruling Party in the Province passed Act 5 of 2005 and section 17 merely says: “ISILO (the King) is the Monarch of the Province.” This is meaningless in constitutional terms.  However the sad part is that although I served in the new government as Minister of Home Affairs after elections that final business of reconciliation between the ANC and the IFP has not yet taken place. 

 

In terms of the Interim Constitution which was in place from 1994 to 1999 any Party with more than 5 per cent of the votes had a place in the Cabinet.  So Mr Mandela appointed me and a couple of other IFP Ministers and two Deputy Ministers in terms of the Provisions of the Interim Constitution.  It is important to clarify this, because quite often people interpret our participation in Mr Mandela’s Cabinet as a product of Mr Mandela’s magnanimity, whereas it was in fact in terms of the Interim Constitution.  My Party won by a clear majority in the Province of KwaZulu Natal and we invited the ANC to participate with us in the government of the Province.  One of the Ministers we invited was Mr Jacob Zuma who today is our President.

 

After the expiry of the Government of National Unity President Mbeki offered me the position of Deputy President.  This was out of his magnanimity as the time for the government of national unity had expired.  But unfortunately the leaders of the ANC in this Province including Mr Zuma asked Mr Mbeki to demand that if I am offered the position of Deputy President, that I should then give the Premiership of this Province to the ANC.  I would not do that to the voters of this Province who had given my Party the majority of the votes in 1999.  

 

When the ruling Party, the ANC got the majority of the votes in 2004 in this Province, they offered positions in the Cabinet only for a short time.  They later dismissed IFP Ministers and said that they wanted to run as a purely ANC Government.

 

While there is more peaceful and civilized interaction at the level of the Provincial Legislature between the ANC and the IFP, the tensions of yesteryear have not yet vanished. Just last week our IFP member Mr Gumede in the UGU Region was assassinated and the suspects were arrested and they are members of the ANC.

 

But when I consider the life I have lived, the doors that God has opened for me and the dangers from which He has preserved me, I cannot help but wonder as King David did, “What is man that You are mindful of him, the son of man that You care for him?” (Psalm 8 verse 4). I know that I am nothing more than a redeemed sinner, justified by the blood of Christ. My own sins have not disqualified me, and neither have the sins of others which have been committed against me. I am not disqualified from the race to which the Apostle Paul refers in Hebrews 12, because the work of my Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, was finished on the cross. 

 

I know that when God Almighty looks at me, He sees the righteousness of Christ. How else could He, in His purity and holiness, look upon the likes of me? 

 

Yes, it has been an incredible challenge being a Christian and a politician, as I have sought to promote peace in the last 62 years. But I also know that I could never have promoted peace or fulfilled my calling in politics had I not been grounded in Christ. When a sage from India conferred on me the title of ‘RASTIA PITA’- Apostle of Peace I was humbled.    

 

I was also humbled when all the Bishops of my own Church, the Church of the Province of Southern Africa awarded me the highest honour that our Church can award to a layman in our church two years ago, the Order of Simon of Cyrene.

 

I was also humbled prior to that when the Patriarch of Alexandra and All Africa of the Greek Orthodox Church awarded me the highest honour that the Church can award to a layman which is the Order of St Markhus (St Mark).

 

Also this year when my Church was celebrating the 140 years anniversary of the Diocese of Zululand, that my Bishop included me amongst the 5 people that were awarded the newly inaugurated Order of St Michael and All Angels. 

 

I was equally humbled when the Christians for Peace in Africa also conferred the title of Peace Maker on me, in spite of all the vilification I had endured for decades up to the present day.

 

When our Lord sat on the mountainside in Galilee and pronounced the beatitudes, He said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God”. I often think of these words when I attend Parliamentary sessions and we are asked to observe a moment of silence before the proceedings. If we follow manmade rules, our highest accolades will be that we were tolerant or politically correct. Yet if we follow the laws instituted by the Creator of Heaven and Earth, our greatest blessings are these; that we will be comforted, filled, and shown mercy that we will inherit the earth and the kingdom of heaven shall be ours, and we will be called the children of God.

 

As we as Christians seek peace in Africa, I pray that we will have the courage to diverge from following the world, and rather follow the heart of Christ.

 

I thank you.

 

Contact: Lyndith Waller, 073 929 1418