Durban: 26 October 2011
I wish to thank His Lordship Bishop Imo'wo for
arranging this meeting between Bishops of the Brotherhood of the
Cross and Star, and myself as the President of the Inkatha
Freedom Party. We meet today because of our shared interest in
furthering the liberation of all people from the bonds of
poverty, disease, social injustice and despair. But our hearts
are brought together by our shared faith, as Believers in Jesus
Because we are of one mind insofar as our
faith is concerned, we can have a meeting of minds on issues
that impact on humanity. Our foundational beliefs are the same;
we acknowledge the intrinsic value of human life, the immutable
laws of a holy God and the powerful truth in the symbol of the
cross. From that basis flows our desire to serve mankind. It does not matter whether we acknowledge our Creator as
just God, or as Allah.
I am delighted to have the opportunity to
speak to such a large contingent of religious leaders, and to
receive your wisdom. It is always beneficial to gain insight
from other parts of the world. Your unique experiences give you
a unique perspective, and you just might hold the key to a
problem we have been grappling with, just as we might hold the
key you seek. So I welcome this visit by the Brotherhood. May
each of the countries we represent be blessed by our
As a political leader, I am often confronted
with the message that politics and religion should not mix. But
I beg to differ. While there is merit in maintaining the
separation of Church and State, there is no merit in keeping
faith behind closed doors while making politics public. I will
not pretend that anything I have achieved has been accomplished
in my own strength. It is not my great political acumen or my
leadership abilities that has brought me through more than half
a century in public life. It is my faith. It is God. I am a Believer and we meet here today as Believers, as
people of faith.
When I was considering what I might speak
about today, I thought of all the struggles we have faced as a
nation and all the battles I have fought on behalf of my people.
I thought of the various roles I have played, and continue to
play, from being Acting President of South Africa more than 20
times, being a Minister of State, to being the sole voice of
reason when even my own Church declared that time had come for a
"Just War" against Apartheid. As a traditional leader, I have
worked to preserve an age-old social structure that emphasizes
moral values, respect for elders and communal responsibility. As
the traditional Prime Minister to the Zulu Monarch and Zulu
Nation, I have taken the struggle for cultural identity and
recognition of diversity into constitutional negotiations. As a
federalist, I have worked to empower people in their own
governance. As a politician, I have fought for liberation; I
have fought for every inch of ground democracy brought us, and I
still fight to keep that ground and push the limits outward.
The record of history is written, and many of
you may know something about me already. You may know that I was
the Chief Minister of the erstwhile KwaZulu Government, and that
I refused to accept nominal independence for KwaZulu, which
obstructed the grand scheme of Apartheid to balkanize South
Africa. You may know that I was vilified for opposing the armed
struggle and that my Party, Inkatha, became the victim of a
People's War engaged by the ANC and the UDF. You may know that I
went throughout the world, visiting Heads of State, urging them
not to impose sanctions on South Africa or disinvest from our
country. It was the poorest who would suffer the most,
in the end.
I was fortunate in that my struggle during
those dark days of Apartheid was recognized even by some of the
Heads of State in Africa. This is how I was invited to Nigeria by the then Head of State
His Excellency Olusegun Obasanjo in 1976, not long after the
assassination of General Murtala Mahomed. He also wanted me and the President of the African
National Congress mission-in-exile Mr Oliver Tambo to meet on
Nigerian soil. Other
Heads of State in Africa also welcomed me into their countries
such as the President of Zambia His Excellency Dr Kenneth
Kaunda, and the President of Tanzania His Excellency Dr Julius
Nyerere, the Prime Minister of Lesotho and King Moshoeshoe II of Lesotho and the President of
Liberia Dr William Tolbert.
So, with all that you can read about me and
all that is popularly known, I wondered what I could tell you
that would inspire our meeting. And then I thought of Matthew
chapter 8, from verses 5 to 13, because the story captured in
that passage describes the essence of my lifelong work. Matthew
chapter 8 details how Jesus had entered Capernaum, when a Roman
Centurion sent word that one of his servants was deathly ill and
asked Jesus to heal him. Jesus answered that He would go to the
Centurion's home to do as was asked.
But the Centurion answered and said, "Lord, I
am not worthy that you should come under my roof. But only speak
a word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under
authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one,
'Go,' and he goes; and to another, 'Come,' and he comes; and to my servant, 'Do this,'
and he does it." Jesus declared that this was faith; the
understanding that Christ's power came from His authority under
This passage resonates with me, because I have
always recognized that I am a man under authority. There is no
doubt in my mind that South Africa, like your own country, is
engaged in a spiritual battle. I am 83 years old, and I have seen remarkable
things happen in our country. When we achieved political liberation in the
absence of civil war, the world hailed it as the South African
"miracle". It was a miracle; but it was the culmination of many
years of prayer, pain, bloodshed and martyrdom.
Many people died in our liberation struggle.
Some 20 000 black lives were lost in the People's War that
pitted brother against brother in a struggle for political
hegemony. Ideologies clashed and blood was spilled. My own life
was threatened countless times, and I survived several
assassination attempts. I buried members of my Party, members of
my family and members of my church. It was extremely difficult
to maintain the path of non-violence and to resist entering the
deadly cycle of retaliation and revenge. But my unyielding
commitment to passive resistance and negotiations was a result
of my mandate from God. I am a man under authority.
I could not believe that God considered the
loss of innocent lives an acceptable price to pay for political
enfranchisement. But more than that, I knew He would not embrace
murder as a means to political empowerment. That is, in effect,
what much of the People's War in South Africa was about. I was
surprised when the ANC's mission-in-exile invited me and a
delegation of Inkatha to London in 1979 to seek my support for an armed struggle
I was surprised, because it was Mr Oliver
Tambo, the then President of the ANC's mission-in-exile, who had
sent a message to me through my sister, Princess Morgina
Dotwana, that I should take up the governance of KwaZulu if
elected, so that I might undermine the Apartheid system from
within. He had sent that message together with Inkosi Albert
Luthuli, whom I had long considered one of my greatest mentors.
Inkosi Albert Luthuli was a lay minister in
the Church. Together with the other leaders, he established the
cornerstone principles of our liberation struggle; unity,
cooperation and non-violence. It was through many conversations
with Inkosi Luthuli that my own commitment to non-violence
solidified. I could not imagine the ANC diverging from its
original path. It would, I felt, be changing its identity
entirely. Which, sadly, is what it did.
The ANC of today is not the liberation
movement I joined as a young student at the University of Fort
Hare. Its legacy is not what it should be. The legacy of the
armed struggle is a society of heightened violence and
criminality, with lesser respect for the rule of law. The legacy
of the sanctions and disinvestment that the ANC advocated during
Apartheid is an economy that is not able to sustain all its
people; unemployment is high and poverty pervasive. These are
the repercussions of past mistakes. But I fear we are making new
mistakes now that will have repercussions into the future.
There is a growing problem of corruption
within our Government. It sprang from the culture of entitlement
that developed during our struggle. Throughout that time, as I
still do now, I advocated self-help and self-reliance. But other
components of our liberation struggle were encouraging the
disenfranchised majority to burn down their schools, disrupt
their education and demand something better. The grandiose pre-election promises of the
ANC, as we approached 1994, emphasized that everyone could have
a house and a job in a democratic South Africa.
That is not quite true. Ideologically
speaking, everyone should have a house and a job.
Constitutionally, everyone has a right to a house and a job. But
realistically, houses and jobs are still too scarce even
seventeen years into democracy. This is why it causes such a
media frenzy when Government spends R400 million to renovate the
homes of Cabinet Ministers, adding steam rooms and saunas,
fireplaces and chandeliers. The divide between the have-nots and
the have-too-muches is growing exponentially.
Our Public Protector is finding top Government
officials guilty of financial mismanagement and corruption.
Tender fraud is rife. Wasted expenditure runs into the millions.
And our people are starting to protest, sometimes violently,
over the lack of service delivery in their communities. We are
sitting on a tinder box, and the spark that ignites an explosion
can come from many quarters. It is not simply that unemployment
is high, but that job creation is promised and never
materializes. There is no prospect of things improving in the
This is all very worrying. When I was the
Chief Minister of KwaZulu, a position I held for 18 years, I
instituted the practice of holding a prayer breakfast before the
opening of each legislature. I invited leaders of all faiths and
denominations, so that together we could seek unity and
inspiration for the difficult task of governance. I served in
Cabinet for the first ten years of our democracy, and only saw a
similar initiative to engage religious leaders under former
President Thabo Mbeki. We held regular meetings with religious
leaders of all faiths.
I am no longer in Cabinet, so I don't know if
that kind of engagement still happens. But I do know that the
decline in moral values that is so evident in our society is a
symptom of people moving away from their religious foundations.
It would be wrong for us, as religious leaders, to divorce
ourselves from politics. Our strength comes from our faith.
If we truly care about the whole body, we
cannot turn a blind eye to the suffering of so many of its
parts. It is true that we as Believers walk in the promise of a
good inheritance. In the life hereafter, we shall inherit the
Kingdom. But in this life, there is work to do. There is suffering to alleviate. There is a
hope that needs to be kindled.
I appreciate the commitment of the Brotherhood
of the Cross and Star to look ahead, as well as looking into the
past. In the linear passage of time, we are moving further away
from the events of Calvary. But in kairos time, we are surely
moving closer to Christ's return. I therefore admire your
organization, which embraces ecumenism and engages humanitarian
service. Our duty as Believers is not merely to seek the
spiritual wellbeing of humanity, but its physical wellbeing too.
My life's work has been shaped by men and
women of God. As I mentioned, my mentor, Inkosi Albert Luthuli,
was a lay minister. Another of my mentors, Bishop Alphaeus Zulu,
not only prepared me for confirmation, but for the trials of
faith that I would face. I regret that some of these trials came
at the hands of religious leaders, even from within my own
church. Our liberation struggle saw us divided by ideologies,
and I did not always agree with my brothers in Christ. I
suffered a great deal of vilification for taking a stand for
what I believe to have been right.
But I have no regrets. I am a
man under authority.
Bishop Alphaeus Zulu agreed to join me even after his retirement
as Bishop. He became
the Speaker of our KwaZulu Legislature and I asked him to chair
the economic arm of my government - the KwaZulu Finance and Investment
only bank founded by blacks in South Africa today is Ithala Bank,
which stands as our joint legacy. He was concerned like me not only with what happens to
our soul but also with what happens with our bodies during our
sojourn on this earth.
Religious leaders in South Africa, and
elsewhere, became involved in our liberation struggle, and made
a tremendous contribution to securing our freedom. But it was
painful for me to see some men of the cloth align themselves to
particular political groupings and begin to neglect the
suffering of others. During the terrible years of the
internecine low intensity civil war, many religious leaders
attended the funerals of ANC members, but their absence at
Inkatha funerals was pronounced.
The challenge of religious leaders making
politics their god is still around. But that does not mean I
subscribe to the opposite extreme. I don't believe we have to
stay out of politics if we want to serve God. We are called to serve Him in our field and
there is no field that needs active, committed Christians more
than the field of politics.
Indeed, South Africa has a long history of
religious leaders who became politicians, like Dr John
Langalibalele Dube, the Reverend James Calata and others. In
Africa, much has been lost through religious wars and ideas
around religion. But in our new era of ecumenism, there is
something unique to be gained from linking religion and
I pray that as we share our fellowship today,
we will find inspiration for the work before us. The harvest is
always ripe. Let us be ready workers.