Meeting With Bishops Of The Brotherhood Of The Cross And Star
 Remarks By Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP
President Of The Inkatha Freedom Party
Inkosi Of The Buthelezi Clan
Chairman: Zululand District Local House Of Traditional Leaders
And Traditional Prime Minister Of The Zulu Monarch And Nation

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 Christ.

 

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 interaction.

 

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 God.

 

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 against Apartheid.

 

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 near future.

 

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 Corporation. The 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 politics.

 

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.