Mangosuthu Buthelezi's Online Letter
Dear friends and fellow South Africans,
My house is about to be invaded.
The ANC Youth League in KwaZulu Natal has issued a statement announcing that "a massive motorcade" will descend on my home this Sunday. I am to "brace" myself for "the full force of the ANCYL leadership" led by Mr Julius Malema himself.
The whole of Mahlabathini has been invited to attend to watch me "saying goodbye to (my) political career". The Youth League has reiterated this announcement on Ukhozi FM, which is the largest radio station in Africa.
This statement was issued on Tuesday. The very next day, the ANC stood before the nation at the signing of the Code of Conduct organized by the Independent Electoral Commission, and committed itself to ensuring a free and fair election - without intimidation or violence.
How can one take the ANC's pledge seriously, when the ANC Youth League is threatening the safety of my family and my household?
In explanation for their planned invasion on Sunday, the Youth League claims that I have been oppressing people. This is reminiscent of Mr Bheki Mtolo's allegation that I am personally responsible for the violence in KwaZulu Natal. I have sought legal action against Mr Bheki Mtolo, who is the provincial leader of the ANC Youth League.
In the run up to the 2009 elections, Mr Julius Malema made the foolish statement that the ANC Youth League would come to my house, campaign in my backyard and recruit my wife and children. I asked them to give me a date and a time for, as their host, I would need to prepare refreshments.
But this political posturing has crossed a line that turns childish rhetoric into blatant threat. Their open invitation for people to come and witness the invasion of my home on Sunday has reached the ears of hundreds of thousands of South Africans. Who knows who might get it into their head to come and act on behalf of the Youth League? This vitriol is enticing disaster.
Do I remove my wife to a place of safety? Do I ask the police to protect my home? In the face of this open threat by the ANC Youth League, the ANC's silence is deafening. So too is the silence of the IEC, which has not said a word to condemn this barefaced intimidation, even after I spoke about it during my nationally televised speech when we gathered to sign the electoral Code of Conduct.
I wonder what this commitment that we made on Wednesday is really worth, if it can be broken so easily with no repercussions? A free and fair election in KwaZulu Natal is foredoomed if this is the measure of laxity over intimidation.
The ANC Youth League has exposed its political immaturity with the claim that I want to keep parts of KwaZulu Natal under IFP leadership. Let's be honest. If the voters give us the mandate, the IFP is ready and willing to lead the whole of South Africa. It is the ANC that tries to lead even where it is not wanted.
How quickly they forget the violent protests in ANC led communities while they were drawing up their candidate lists for the local government elections. The community chose their representatives; then the ANC removed their names and replaced them with candidates the people did not want. In one community, an ANC councillor refused to budge from her position - even though the people rejected her for non-performance - because she had the backing of the ANC leadership.
People support the IFP because we exist to serve, not to dominate. At local government level, where service delivery actually takes place, people in KwaZulu Natal still want an IFP leadership. The IFP runs more municipalities in KwaZulu Natal than the ANC does. And that irks the ANC no end. But we are still the party people turn to when they want things done.
The ANC would be wise to remember that it is the people who decide, and not the ANC. It is the people that matter, not the ruling elite. Nowhere else in South Africa is the ANC confronted with such a strong opposition as it is in KwaZulu Natal. The IFP is still a serious threat to the ANC's desire for a one party state and political dominance.
The question is; how far will the ANC allow its Youth League to go before reining them in? If they fail to act now, the pretence of caring about genuinely free and fair elections becomes utterly meaningless.
In December last year, the ANC Youth League wrote to me requesting the opportunity to meet with me and apologise for its untoward behaviour. That meeting was also to be led by Mr Malema. I agreed and they came; although Mr Malema himself never arrived. But after I had placed on the table the history of the problems we needed to discuss, the Youth League delegation got up and left, saying they had another appointment. So much for an apology. Indeed, so much for an attempt at civilized behaviour.
Yours in the service of the nation,
Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP
Contact: Ms Liezl van der Merwe,
Press Liaison Officer to Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP. 082 729 2510.