Mangosuthu Buthelezi's Online Letter
My dear friends and fellow South Africans,
The death of Inkosi NJ Ngubane prompts me to a broader reflection on the history and future of the IFP, and its role in South Africa. NJ Ngubane embodied within his persona all that is and has been good and noble within Inkatha. He was a man of immense integrity, courage, loyalty, dedication to work, sense of duty and spirit of service.
These qualities emerged in the service which he rendered his community as their traditional leader, when he was a Minister in my Cabinet in the erstwhile KwaZulu Government, when he was a Minister in the province of KwaZulu Natal and throughout his service as a Member of the Provincial Legislature.
As the Leader of Inkatha, I have tried not only to promote ideas and policies within my Party, but also a special and specific sense of morality and certain values, which I felt ought to be the hallmark of our Party. It is unusual for political parties to require not only ideological adhesion to policies, but also to personal values. Yet I always felt that private and public life cannot be separated and leadership requires both the right ideas and the right personal values.
In this sense, Inkosi Ngubane was really the final example of what I would like Inkatha members to be. Stressing, as I do, personal values such as integrity and morality is neither an exclusively moral matter nor a personal idiosyncrasy. Our country is sinking in a flood of corruption, absenteeism, dereliction of duty, inefficiency, lawlessness and criminality. If we could eliminate these problems, all the other problems our country is now struggling with would take care of themselves.
The fact is that in many years of struggle we have placed great emphasis on creating a new South Africa, which we have achieved, but not all parties have placed the same emphasis on creating new South Africans, as I have done throughout my life. Forging new South Africans hinges on creating general appreciation for the values which Inkosi NJ Ngubane so naturally and spontaneously expressed in everything he did.
A party does not belong to its past, but to its future. People do not vote for a party or for its leaders on account of what they did in the past, but because of what they expect that party and its leaders to do, achieve and deliver in the future. I am deeply aware of that.
Nonetheless, I wish to pause to reflect on the Inkatha of years past, because I feel that its leaders have provided an example of personal dedication and rectitude which is relevant in shaping and inspiring the new generation of leaders of the Inkatha Freedom Party.
When I selected leaders to become part of my Cabinet in the erstwhile KwaZulu Government, I looked for true leadership, integrity and dedication.
I concerned myself with choosing good men and women who were such both in their public and private spheres of life. I ran a government which excelled above any other government established in the self-governing territories and in the TBVC states, in spite of my government having been the one most egregiously underfunded as compared with all others, on account of my rejection of the grand scheme of Apartheid.
My results were not my own alone, for mine was indeed a collegial government with ministers of the stature of Prince GL Zulu, Dr LPHM Mtshali, Dr Madida, Dr BS Ngubane, Inkosi S Gumede, Inkosi NJ Ngubane, Mr VB Ndlovu and many others.
Many of them are now gone. It is important that we let their memory live on, because their example has immense value not only for the IFP and its future, but for the whole of South Africa.
No two generations are alike. I am deeply aware that a new generation of IFP leaders is now emerging out of a milieu which has not known the horror and repression of Apartheid. This new generation, to which the future belongs, has in itself an extraordinary and positive capacity for transformation and renewal, on which our country must rely.
As young people, they did not suffer the personal oppression of Apartheid's humiliations, racial discrimination and practices which constantly put them down. In many respects, because new and until now unprecedented horizons have been opened for them, they know better and are stronger than their parents. At a younger age they have already received much greater exposure than their elders did and are empowered in their knowledge by the reach of computers, the Internet and the world of instant communications.
They are the avant garde of a cultural revolution in the making, which neither I nor anyone else ought to make the mistake of ignoring or fearing.
However, those of us who bear the weight of the many lessons of life, which only age and experience can teach, have the responsibility of assisting this revolution to succeed rather than fail.
For this reason we must make sure that this generation doesn't throw the baby out with the bath water, and remains rooted in those personal values which were as much the hallmark of politics within the IFP in the past as they must remain its hallmark in the future, failing which the IFP has no role to play in South Africa.
Policies may change, but the values of humility, integrity, dedication, courage and a sense of duty remain at the foundation of anything this Party stands for. If they were ever to be abandoned, I hope that our Party may be dissolved and re-established under another name, so that my life's commitment, that of my colleagues and the experience of NJ Ngubane may be shielded from any such corruption of spirit and practice.
I am confident in the future, because I know that at all levels of the IFP the personal values I am describing have in fact been percolating through for many decades. Even when I am gone, as Inkosi Ngubane now is, I hope that the IFP will continue to carry these values into the politics of South Africa. For without such values, no country can succeed and any republic is bound to fail.
Yours in the Service of Our Nation,
Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP