GRANTING OF THE FREEDOM OF ESHOWE

ACCEPTANCE SPEECH BY 
MANGOSUTHU BUTHELEZI, MP
PRESIDENT OF THE INKATHA FREEDOM PARTY AND MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIRS

Eshowe: June 30, 2000

Your Worship the Mayor; members of the Royal House present; amaKhosi present; members of both the national Parliament and the Parliament of KwaZulu Natal; distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. It is an honour and a privilege to be in Eshowe today, to share with this community an occasion of great celebration. I feel this occasion is unique, important and rich in significance, not only for me personally, but for all the people of this region. I accept with pride this great honour bestowed upon me, with the deep awareness that in so doing we are walking a further mile together of that long and still unaccomplished journey towards freedom which we commenced together many decades ago.

The pleasure of being here is enriched by the satisfaction of doing something important there where it counts the most, here at home. People often forget that the most important achievements are those within our homes, and here today I feel at home. I am often called upon to attend functions of importance across South Africa. However, it is good to come home, for it is here that the hearts of the people and the pulsating history of my life’s memory beat as one.

We have shared a long walk and together we have come to the point where we can truly say that we finally belong to one community, seeking a common destiny of social prosperity and economic stability. We share together a dream that at times seems greater than life itself and yet it should be nothing more than an ordinary fact of life. We share the dream that one day all of us can raise a family in a climate of stability and economic security, within a society which offers to all its daughters and sons a dignified life, free from unemployment, crime and poverty.

I have dedicated my life to the dream that one day we shall all be free from abject poverty, crime, ignorance and the fear that tomorrow is not going to be a much better day than today. This is my quest for freedom, and I see this moment as an important part of my quest’s journey. Under such circumstances, it fills me with a deep pride to accept the Freedom of Eshowe which is granted to me today. This, to me, is a new indication of the close ties between all communities of Eshowe. I am humbled by your conferring on me the greatest honour which any City can bestow on anyone.

I wish to thank His Worship the Mayor Councillor MB Mthiyane for this tremendous honour. I feel that a milestone has been reached today. For decades I have worked among the people of this region. Many leaders of my Party, many of my associates and closest friends have indeed grown up within the communities around here. We know each other well and over the years a tradition of trust and respect has developed which, I thank God, has never had cause to be shaken. I entered my career in political life with the will to establish such relationships of trust with every South African of goodwill. Here, in Eshowe, people of goodwill live and work daily towards the same basic goals of a better life for all.

Politics is not a simple journey from ambition to power. Since I was a young child, trained at my mother’s knee to lead my people, I was taught that being a leader meant being a servant

of the people. For almost forty years I have kept this knowledge close to my heart, reminding myself in all situations that the good of my people comes first. Today, I am proud to be able to say that I have survived years of vilification, intimidation and untold violence against me, and even plots of murder and one attempt on my life, my associates and friends, only because I have always upheld this standard throughout my political career.

I have done whatever I did not because it was the simple thing to do, but because it was the hard but right thing to do, in spite of the pressure and intimidation to which I was subjected. I was vilified and treated like a political pariah because I refused to join the armed struggle and the campaign of violence, rebellion and military actions used against apartheid, instead of my chosen method of defiance, negotiations and passive resistance. I knew that if I and the Zulu Nation took arms on the path of war, the country would have burned down to ashes, with nothing or anyone to gain by it.

I have always pursued a long-term strategy of total and holistic liberation and never saw any fellow South African as an enemy to be defeated. I have come to understand that there is nothing so worthy of my commitment than the pursuit of genuine liberation for all my fellow countrymen. I do not yet see that we are all free. Political liberation has not brought complete freedom for thousands of South Africans. Many of our people, particularly in more rural areas, continue to suffer under the burden of social difficulties. Poor service delivery, poverty, a lack of sound education, a lack of access to resources, unemployment and criminality still plague our communities. We have come a long way since 1994. We have transformed our country’s entire institutional and constitutional framework. We have written social justice and equality of opportunity into our laws. We have declared war on poverty, crime and unemployment. Yet the many little battles that ordinary South Africans fight every day continue unabated. This is not news. The evidence is all around us, that we are not yet truly free.

Recognising this truth, I have committed myself to continue fighting, to continue working and to continue speaking to all my people about the long and uphill road ahead to a finally free and prosperous South Africa. My cause is freedom. My mission is the pursuit of the best for my country, and I will not settle for less. Receiving the freedom of Eshowe is for me an important occasion to recommit myself to this struggle for freedom. I know that all people of goodwill recognise the importance and champion this struggle for freedom, and it is this which binds us together along a common path of destiny.

For these reasons, I am honoured to receive the Freedom of Eshowe on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Party I founded in the name of freedom - the Inkatha Freedom Party. I hope that this occasion may stand as a symbol of the close co-operation between my Party and the people of this community as we continue to build together the structure of a prosperous new South Africa. The clarion call which should always resound is for a revolution of goodwill to sweep across our country. It is encouraging to see that the revolution has indeed begun within the heart of this community as its people take up their trowels and mortar, their bricks and spirit levels, ready to build a future which is better by far than today.

I wish to offer my sincere gratitude to His Worship the Mayor of Eshowe, and to all the people of this community, for the honour bestowed upon me today. May our new commitment of unity and co-operation bode well for the years to come. I know that we have grown together and even more we need to grow, to empower all the people to work together to ensure that every day a greater part of our dream materialises into reality. For these reasons, I thank you.

 

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