King Solomon's Inkatha (1920's)
The Inkatha National Cultural Liberation Movement founded by Dr. Mangosuthu Buthelezi in 1975 had some of its roots in the cultural organisation, "Inkatha", established by King Solomon in the 1920's.
King Solomon's Inkatha was a sincere effort to
warn his people of the dangers of the cultural domination and arrogance of,
first, the British Imperialists and then the Afrikaners. It also served to
acknowledge and to remind the people that African political institutions of the
time were not necessarily undemocratic.
The philosophy of Ubuntu-Botho played a
crucial role then as it does now in the struggle for the promotion of African
patterns of thought and value systems. It has consistently underpinned all
political developments and strategies undertaken by Inkatha in its various
The Inkatha National Cultural Liberation
The Inkatha National Cultural Liberation
Movement was founded on the 21st March 1975 at KwaNzimela, in
Northern KwaZulu. Inkatha emerged, along with the Black Consciousness
Movement, to fill the vacuum in black politics caused by the banning of the
ANC and PAC. Most of the founders of Inkatha had been either ANC
office-bearers or activists. The most prominent example is that of Dr. M.G.
Buthelezi, formerly a member of the ANC Youth League, who became the President
of the Inkatha National Cultural Liberation Movement. Other prominent founding
members of Inkatha were the late Rt. Rev. Bishop Dr. A.H. Zulu and Dr.
Frank .T. Mdlalose, among others.
Unlike King Solomon's Inkatha, the National
Cultural Liberation Movement launched itself as an all-embracing national
movement with its sights set on the liberation of all South Africans. Although
established in KwaZulu, its membership was made open to all blacks - men,
women and youth - and branches opened in KwaZulu, Natal, the Transvaal, the
Orange Free State and the Western Cape.
The Inkatha National Cultural Liberation
Movement did not claim to be the sole and authentic representative of the
Black peoples of South Africa. Its aim was to work in a multi-strategy
approach for the freedom of the people and for a united non-racial democratic
country. Its emergence was a result of a desperate need at that time for black
democratic forces to come to the fore and pick up the gauntlet of the black
liberation struggle which had been left tragically destitute by so many
From the 1960's there had been no
significant organised black political activity. The African National Congress
(ANC) and the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) had been banned and their leaders
were either in jail, in exile or had "disappeared" into the
underground movement. Wave after wave of repression by the South African
Government had, by 1975, left black politics in disarray.
At the time of Inkatha's launch in 1975 the
names of ANC leaders Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Goven Mbeki, Moses Mabhida
and others including PAC leader Robert Sobukwe were being whispered in quiet
corners. Dr. Buthelezi, from the beginning, spoke of them in his speeches and
even quoted them, which was a punishable offence. He raised questions
of their release and made their release conditional to any dialogue with the
white racist Nationalist Party regime.
The meaning of
The name "Inkatha has a
deeply symbolic as well as practical meaning. In essence an
"Inkatha" is a plaited coil or circle made of straws of grass,
placed on the head to carry and alleviate the weight of a heavy burden. It is
so powerfully woven together that it does not crumble and break. Neither does
it slip and dislodge its burden.
Symbolically, therefore, the IFP feels a keen
responsibility towards maintaining political balance and of assisting and
protecting people from the heavy social and political burdens that they bear.
As the circular shape of an Inkatha represents unity the IFP is committed to
ensuring that no matter the diversity of the peoples South Africa becomes one
Inkatha and the ANC
When asked why he established Inkatha,
Dr. Buthelezi said:
"I wanted democratic forces emerging
in South Africa to accept a multi-strategy approach and offer to work in harmony
with the ANC Mission in Exile. In 1974 when I set about gathering leaders
together to establish Inkatha in 1975, I set about doing so with the clear
intention NOT of subverting the ANC Mission in Exile - but of proving to them
that democratic opposition to apartheid and non-violent tactics and strategies
were still possible."
His attitude was that if the ANC Mission in
Exile had (understandably) opted for violence, then it was incumbent on black
South Africans to prove that democratic opposition could be productive. Dr.
"I rallied black South Africans under
the national colours of black South Africa - black, green and gold. I brought
together a very considerable constituency, which had provided the old ANC with
grass-root support while it was in the country. We sang old freedom songs and in
every way identified with the ANC Mission in Exile. I told my people that they
were our brothers and sisters and we should wage a struggle in harmony with
Dr. Buthelezi kept in contact with the ANC
Mission in Exile and liaised with their offices in Swaziland. His emissaries had
frequent meetings with the ANC Mission in Exile personnel. "I sent
emissaries abroad charging them to argue the merits of a multi- strategy
approach with them, and to offer co-operation in those projects where Inkatha's
aims and objectives coincided with the ANC Mission in Exile aims and objectives
- and where tactics and strategies were not mutually hostile…." said
There was one issue about which Dr. Buthelezi
made his views abundantly clear. He and Inkatha had never accepted the
unilateral decision, which the ANC Mission in Exile had made, to commit black
South Africa to the armed struggle as the primary means of bringing about
change. He said: "I established Inkatha as a black liberation movement
in the sincere hope that the dangerous divisions in black politics could be
bridged. I could not side with the Black Consciousness Movement's rejection of
the ANC Mission in Exile. I understood the grave difficulties, which the ANC
Mission in Exile had been facing in the outside world. Both in South Africa and
abroad I argued in public that the ANC had been driven underground by South
African police brutality and that it was understandable that in
an exiled position, where they were rejected by the West, the Mission in Exile
should seek recourse in violence."
"I accepted that the ANC Mission in
Exile having being rejected by the West, would naturally seek alliances
elsewhere. It was for me understandable that they should start thinking in terms
of the application of force against apartheid. I, however, never accepted the
unilateral decision, which the ANC Mission in Exile made to commit black South
Africa to the armed struggle as the primary means of bringing about change once
they were in exile. They never consulted black South Africa about this very
fundamental step. They made the decision unilaterally only after they had been
in exile for some years".
In response to Dr. Buthelezi's and others
questioning whether the armed struggle had a mandate from black South Africa,
Mr. Joe Slovo, a member of the ANC Mission in Exile and the head of Umkhonto
weSizwe, its military wing acknowledged: "The attempts, particularly in the
West, to question this policy and to influence the ANC to consider the adoption
of a "peaceful road to change" is nothing less than a recipe for
submission and surrender of national liberation aims. We must bear in mind that
the ANC was declared illegal long before it adopted a policy of armed
The decision of Dr. Buthelezi and the Inkatha
National Cultural Liberation Movement, and later the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP)
not to support and adopt the ANC Mission in Exile's armed struggle would later
be one the greatest points of conflict between the ANC and Inkatha. This
conflict would result in the tragic loss of lives on both sides
Inkatha under the leadership of Dr. M.G.
Buthelezi, however, remained firm in their rejection of the armed struggle.
The London Meeting
After four years of sending emissaries
abroad the time seemed ripe for a top-level meeting between Inkatha and the
ANC. The first such meeting took place in Stockholm in the early part of 1979.
That meeting was used as a consultative meeting to establish a summit
conference between Inkatha and the ANC Mission in Exile, which took place in
October 1979. Mr Oliver Tambo attended the meeting (which was chaired by Dr.
A.H. Zulu, the Speaker of the KwaZulu Legislative Assembly).
Dr. Buthelezi later reflected: " I
went to London determined to seek reconciliation and determined to bring about a
working relationship between the ANC Mission in Exile and Inkatha. I was aware
of the fact that Mr. Oliver Tambo was having difficulties with some elements of
his organisation. Those with a firm commitment to violence did not want any
evidence that non-violent strategies were viable in South Africa. " In
all his discussions with the ANC Mission in Exile Dr. Buthelezi was adamant that
Inkatha should remain Inkatha and that it should remain committed to the Black
popular will which expressed itself in Inkatha's massive membership, which had
doubled in 1977 and again doubled in 1978. Inkatha rightly interpreted this
massive increase of membership as a rejection by Black South Africans of the
Dr. Buthelezi later noted: "
was Inkatha's growing prominence, even in the early years of its existence, and
the evidence of its mass support which was frightening to the militants in the
ANC Mission in Exile. They wanted Inkatha crushed if it could not be subdued
into being subservient to the Mission in Exile."
By the time the 1979 London meeting between
Inkatha and the ANC Mission in Exile took place the militant elements in the ANC
could no longer be controlled by Mr. Oliver Tambo. After the London meeting, for
the first time in his career Mr. Tambo began criticising Buthelezi and Inkatha
publicly. He had sided with those in his ranks who saw Inkatha as a threat and
who wanted no evidence that black democratic opposition and black non-violent
tactics and strategies were powerful forces for bringing about change.
The 1979 London meeting would prove to be a
pivotal point in the relationship between the two organisations. It became the
basis for ANC anti-Inkatha propaganda, until a meeting between both the
organisations in Durban in 1991 where the IFP was vindicated of ANC allegations
that Inkatha and Dr. Buthelezi had leaked confidential information to the press.
At that meeting the ANC informant was named.
The Inkatha National Cultural Liberation
Movement had well-articulated aims and objectives and from its very inception
instilled within its supporters the need for self-reliance and self-help.
Towards the end of the 70's Inkatha had made the realisation that the
constitutional problems of South Africa would be best served by a federal,
democratic form of government. This is still the view of the IFP today.
Inkatha and the KwaZulu Government
Inkatha and Dr. Buthelezi became the targets
of a campaign of vilification waged by people who often did not know enough
about the strategies underpinning Inkatha's liberation struggle. Many of those
detractors, both in South Africa and abroad, did not know of the close
relationship between Dr. Buthelezi and the ANC leadership, who had in 1953
urged Buthelezi to take up his traditional leadership as Inkosi of the
Buthelezi Clan. In order to so do Buthelezi had to abandon his plans to do his
law articles under Rowley Arenstein, a member of the South African Communist
Party and the longest banned person in South Africa.
It was with the agreement of the ANC
leadership at that time that Dr. Buthelezi assumed office in the
government-created Territorial Authority in 1970 because it was believed to be
in the best interests of the liberation struggle. So too, with counsel and
agreement of the ANC leadership did Buthelezi accept the Chieftancy of the
KwaZulu Government. He, however, refused to lead the KwaZulu Government into
nominal independence because he realised that acceptance of the independence
of KwaZulu would lead to the completion of the South African Government's
institutional scheme of apartheid. His refusal is now recognised as a major
cause of the failure of apartheid. Former President F.W. de Klerk later
admitted that Buthelezi's refusal to accept independence of KwaZulu made them
change their minds about apartheid.
Inkatha and the disinvestment campaign
The disinvestment campaign, which fast
gathered momentum in the West, would prove to be yet another strategy on which
Inkatha and the ANC Mission in Exile would take divergent views. Inkatha argued
that it could not accept as its own a strategy that had been determined with no
or very little consultation with Black South Africans living in the country at
the time. It argued that the disinvestment campaign did not serve the best short
or long-term interests of the Blacks as it would simply add to the already heavy
burden that Black people in South Africa were already carrying and completely
destroy the economy, which Black South Africa hoped to inherit.
Inkatha prophesied that the disinvestment
campaign would leave millions of black South Africans without work, food and
would lead to a militancy that would severely strain and test the quality of any
future democracy in South Africa, as it would render the future economy of South
Africa unproductive. Inkatha believed strongly that other peaceful options
needed to be sought to bring about change in the country.
By 1994 a "lost generation" of about
4 million Black South Africans, which can be directly attributed to the South
African Government apartheid policy and indirectly to the disinvestment
campaign, had evolved. While the disinvestment campaign did manage to play its
role in putting pressure on the South African apartheid government at the time,
it must also accept responsibility for the role it played in robbing many Black
South African children of homes, food and an education. As a consequence the
South African economy and work force have been rendered uncompetitive and major
steps have now (2000) to be taken to redress the economic imbalances of
apartheid, which were exacerbated by the disinvestment campaign.
The Inkatha approach to Trade Unionism
From its very inception in 1975 Inkatha was a
supporter of the need for a strong Trade Union Movement in South Africa and
recognised the right of workers to organise their labour. Inkatha, however,
believed very strongly in the existence of a "natural" tension between
the government of the day and the Trade Union Movement.
Inkatha noted that the then apartheid government had adopted
the wrong approach because its Trade Unions served only the best interests of
the small white minority. Inkatha also noted, though, the danger in the approach
of the ANC in submerging itself totally within the Trade Union Movement because
it knew that this relationship could not be sustained over a long period of
time, in the best interests of the whole of South Africa, as the interests of
government and of the trade union movement were not always compatible.
objectives of the Inkatha Cultural Liberation Movement
We believe that respect for individuals and the
value placed on cultural and large groups is synonymous with progress towards
a politically stable society.
We believe that political rights of all national
groups should be protected within constitutional framework, which outlaws
discrimination, based on colour, sex or creed.
We believe in individual equality before the
law, equality of opportunity and equality of benefits from the institutions of
We believe that the identity of an individual
within a particular cultural mile is essential to his identity as a South
African, but we believe also that culture belongs to all and that no social,
economic or political impediments which hinder the free movement of
individuals from one cultural milieu to another are in any respect justified.
We recognise that there are privileged
communities and under-privileged communities and we believe that it is the
very social duty of the State to provide the opportunities and back those
opportunities with resources to enable every individual who is
under-privileged to develop to the maximum of his/her ability.
We believe that the resources of the country and
the wealth which has already been created which is controlled by the State,
belongs to all the people of South Africa, and we believe that the resources
and the wealth of the country should be utilised for the greatest good of the
We believe that we are facing a grave crisis in
which the poor are threatened with greater poverty and we believe that it is
essential that all people join hands and enter into a partnership
We believe that fiscal control is essential to
regulate the quantity and flow of money and near
money, and we also believe that State control by equivalents of the Reserve
Bank are essential for the utilisation of land, water and power in the
interests of the economy and in the interests of developing underprivileged
areas and populations.
We believe in the elimination of secrecy in
public administration and we believe individuals should have rights of appeals
to the courts to protect his or her privacy in the pursuit of that which is
We believe that practices acceptable in
civilised nations should characterise the methods and the procedures used by
the police in the enforcement of law.
We believe that the enforcement of law is devoid
of meaning outside of the rule of law, and we believe that there should be
both a criminal code and a justice code in which rights to appeal to the
highest courts of the land are the rights of all persons, and we believe that
upon pronouncement of an impartial law society, that the state should bear the
costs of appeal where the appellant pursues a course of action to protect his
We believe that in living the good life in a
just society an individual should be free to attend any educational
institution in which he has entry qualifications, reside where he wishes, own
ground where he wishes, become qualified in any trade or profession for which
he has the required degree of competence.
We believe that the development of trade unions,
guilds and associations should be encouraged by the enactment of enabling
legislation and courts of arbitration.
We believe that the accumulated injustices of
the past and the injustice now present the institutions of our country have
created bitterness and anger among the underprivileged sections of our
populations, and we believe that growing fears of this anger and bitterness
makes the privileged sections of our population intransigent in the face of
the need for change.
We believe therefore that the transition from an
unjust society to a just society will be difficult.
We believe that in this eleventh hour of South
Africa, responsible leadership must publicly declare its commitment to bring
about a just society within the foreseeable future, and we believe that
leadership must meet the demands of responsibility by taking whatever steps
remain from time to time to avoid a race war.
We believe that the mobilisation of constituency
protest and a refusal to act within the restrictive confines of race
exclusivity holds a promise we dare not abandon.
The birth of the Inkatha
Freedom Party (IFP)
On the 14th July
1990 at a special conference in Ulundi the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) came
into being. Dr. Mangosuthu Buthelezi was unanimously elected President of the
The guiding philosophy of the
IFP remained Ubuthu-botho. The IFP's vision to solving the economic
disenfranchisement of the majority of South Africans was that of a free market
economy with a heavy influence on the social responsibility of the state in
the light of the serious political, social and economic injustices of
The IFP became the champion of
federalism in South Africa. It argued that real power needed to be given to
people to make decisions that affect their lives. Apartheid, argued the IFP,
had proved to South Africa how a small minority of people could oppress the
majority through the centralisation of power and that a fundamental and
profound constitutional revolution needed occur to truly empower Black South
Africans. The IFP remains convinced and committed to ensuring that federalism
is implemented in South Africa.
The IFP was successful in its
endeavor in 1994 to ensure that a double ballot system became part of the
political culture of South Africa. The IFP however remains concerned that
unless more real power is given to the provinces and local governments in
South Africa, national government will not be successful in its attempts to
redress the injustices of the past and empower the majority of South Africans
to reach their full potential.
Self-help and self-reliance
remain the key in the IFP's understanding of development.
At the July 1990 meeting at
which Inkatha National Cultural Liberation Movement was transformed into the
Inkatha Freedom Party it set itself the following tasks:
Task 1: To establish an open,
free, non-racial, equal opportunity, reconciled society with democratic
safeguards for all people.
Task 2: To harness the great
resources of the country to fight the real enemies of the people, namely;
poverty, hunger, unemployment, disease, ignorance, insecurity, homelessness
and moral decay.
Task 3: To re-distribute the
wealth of the country for the benefit of all people, and to establish
political and economic structures that encourage enterprise and create the
wealth all governments of the future will need.
Task 4: To ensure the
maintenance if a stable, peaceful society in which all people can pursue
their happiness, and realise their potential without fear or favour.