Mangosuthu Buthelezi's Online Letter
Dear friends and fellow South Africans,
In December 2000, when the Mail & Guardian compiled its list of 100 people who would make their mark in the new millennium, Rev. Musa Zondi was earmarked for leadership because, it was said, he was increasingly representing the IFP at events I was unable to attend.
That was not the first time his name was bandied about as my successor, and we would hear this speculation countless times over the next decade. Rev. Zondi certainly is a capable leader whom I have been mentoring for years. He is not the only one I have mentored, but somehow he caught the eye of the media pundits.
For 32 years, almost since Inkatha's inception, Rev. Zondi has served our Party. Today, he sits in the hot seat as our Secretary-General and National Spokesperson. Over the years, we have entrusted to him delicate political negotiations and matters of extreme sensitivity.
His character is such that he brings a serene atmosphere to discussions, no matter how controversial.
Through his position in the IFP, Rev. Zondi has had the opportunity to serve our nation, not only during our liberation struggle, but also in our struggle for reconciliation and the consolidation of democracy. He served in Cabinet as Deputy Minister of Public Works, and continues to serve in our national Parliament, where his wisdom and sense of justice benefit both portfolio committees and the National Assembly.
His contribution to the IFP, and to our country, has been outstanding, and has often been performed in very trying circumstances. When our Party endured the ructions caused by our former National Chairperson, Rev. Zondi did not shy away from making his position known. He announced then that he would not stand for the Presidency of the IFP at our next elective conference.
He did this to clear the waters that were intentionally being muddied by our opponents, who were determined to portray the ructions as a fierce succession debate between Mrs Zanele kaMagwaza-Msibi and Rev. Musa Zondi. Even a Facebook site was dedicated entirely to this supposed contest, as though our National Council had already put forward names for Conference.
This, of course, had not been done. But the enmity that was stirred on behalf of Mrs kaMagwaza-Msibi erupted into violence, and in the end we had to postpone our Conference several times, once on the advice of the National Commissioner of Police.
I received death threats during that time and intelligence reports made it clear that weapons were being channelled into KwaZulu Natal for the purpose of assassinating a highly placed IFP leader.
Unfortunately, our country has a legacy of removing leaders through violence, intimidation and assassination. When the ANC became embroiled in the Cold War dynamics, weapons and money were channelled to young ANC leaders to topple established community leaders in South Africa, in order to secure political hegemony.
It is therefore not surprising that Rev. Zondi has also received death threats. It is not the first time it has happened, but it is painful to see it happening again. I cannot guess at the agenda of those who would seek to harm him, but I know that our Party has become tainted by vile practices that were foreign to the IFP before the so-called "Friends of VZ" poisoned our ranks.
Rev. Zondi has made it clear on numerous occasions that he would not stand for the Presidency, or even the Deputy Presidency should Conference create such a position. For those within our Party, there is nothing to gain by targeting him now. The only logical conclusion is that this agenda arises from outside the IFP.
When Rev. Zondi first informed me that he would not make himself available to stand for any position at our next Conference, I received the news with great sadness. I feel there is still an enormous contribution that he could make to the IFP. He has invested so much into our Party and we, in turn, have invested much into him. We would have liked to see him continue serving in the IFP.
But service is a voluntary action. It cannot be demanded or extracted unwillingly. Thus we accept Rev. Zondi's intentions for the future, albeit with enormous regret. When the time comes, we will wish him well and thank him for all he has done for our Party. For now, as he faces treachery from unknown quarters, as he has before, we express our support and prayers for his safety, as we have before.
Politics is not an easy job. It is not comfortable or comforting. It gives one sleepless nights and demands many difficult decisions. Over 35 years, the IFP has seen the beginning and culmination of many political careers, and we are still here. Rev. Zondi has been a consistent presence in the IFP. His departure will close a chapter, but not the book.
Yours in the service of the nation,
Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP
Ms Liezl van der Merwe
Press Officer to Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP
082 729 2510