Mangosuthu Buthelezi's Online Letter
Dear friends and fellow South Africans,
This week I faced the difficult task of bidding farewell to my life-long friend and colleague, the former Deputy Minister of Safety and Security, Joseph Gaobakwe Matthews. I met Joe in 1948 when we both attended the University of Fort Hare. His father was the Vice Principal of the University and I had the privilege of studying Roman Dutch Law and Criminal Law under his brilliant tutelage.
Throughout our lives, Joe remained a virtuous friend. He was one of the treason trialists; he briefly joined the SACP; he went into exile; he practiced law; he returned in 1991 and became the IFP's CEO in 1992; he formed a formidable part of our negotiating team at Kempton Park; he served as a Deputy Minister for the first ten years of democracy; and he supported me in every difficult decision I took, even when his own convictions differed.
While history may condense his life in this way, those who loved him will remember the details; the trivialities of everyday life that made up the character of a great man. I was deeply saddened by his passing, even as he was 81 and I today turn 82. Despite the fact that we shared a lifetime, it was not enough. I shall miss him dearly.
I had the opportunity to pay tribute to him in the National Assembly and at a memorial service in Parliament, and tomorrow I shall attend his funeral and again pour out my heart over our terrible loss. In the midst of honouring his memory, however, there was a painful moment in which I read Dr Pallo Jordan's comments in last week's Sunday Times. Dr Jordan, an ANC NEC, was quoted as saying that Joe Matthews' legacy is somehow besmirched by his decision to join the IFP.
I am amazed at how nothing is sacred in politics. Joe Matthews is the father of the Honourable Minister of Science and Technology, Ms Naledi Pandor. His contribution to our country was immeasurable. Yet because of his association with me, the ANC feels the need to insult him, just days after his passing.
I am by now used to being unjustly vilified at every turn. But it pains me to see my friends suffer by association.
Dr Jordan is conveniently forgetting that I also began in the ANC Youth League and my mentors were leaders like Inkosi Albert Lutuli, who often visited my uncle, the Zulu Regent, at the palace where I grew up. Before 1979, I worked closely with the President of the ANC's mission-in-exile, Mr Oliver Tambo, during a period when I was already the Chief Minister of the KwaZulu Government.
In fact, at the unveiling of Mr Tambo's tombstone some years ago, Mr Cleopas Nzimande admitted in the presence of President Nelson Mandela and the leadership of the ANC that it was him, Inkosi Lutuli and Mr Tambo who asked my late sister, Princess Morgina Dotwana, to encourage me to take over the leadership which the Government was foisting on the people; which was the KwaZulu Government.
After years of the propaganda machine running, it is difficult for some in the ANC to step out of the mould and be honest about the past. There are still facts that they would like to sweep under the carpet. The facts remain. But a question arises as to whether this propensity to belittle anything associated with me and the IFP is really just an old habit, or belies a more sinister agenda.
Last weekend, the National Council of the IFP called an Emergency Extended National Council meeting to address the serious concern that has arisen that the ANC may in some way be involved in fomenting ructions within the IFP.
This is not a statement I make lightly, being aware of the peril of straining relations between the two parties. We still grieve the loss of 20,000 black lives in the low intensity civil war that raged in KwaZulu Natal between members of the ANC and UDF, and members of the IFP, in which even members of AZAPO and the PAC were slaughtered.
But despite the denials of ANC involvement that have appeared in The Mercury and other newspapers, there is overwhelming evidence pointing to people both inside and outside the IFP being on the payroll of people within the ANC to fuel problems for our Party. During our Extended National Council meeting I put forward this evidence in great detail, with dates and incidents and names. My speech was released to the media and is now in the public domain.
Before I delivered this speech, however, I met with the President of the ANC, Mr Jacob Zuma, on the 16th of July and spoke frankly about my concerns.
He was surprised by the incidents I recounted, assuring me he was unaware that members of the ANC's NEC and even an ANC Minister had made public statements confirming the lie that the IFP is persecuting its National Chairperson, and that the IFP is sexist and undemocratic. The President promised to take this matter up with the Deputy President.
A few weeks later, during Women's Week, a sitting of the KwaZulu Natal Legislature was disrupted by members of the ANC Women's League singing derogatory songs about me. There is no disputing their identity, as they were wearing their uniforms. They insulted me, using my pet name the way ANC cadres did during the internecine war of the eighties, to goad me. "Gatsha is afraid of a woman", they sang.
They did this in the presence of our National Chairperson and other IFP women leaders, including Mrs Thembani kaMadlopha-Mthethwa, the Secretary of the IFP Women's Brigade and Mayor of Jozini. Obviously pleased with their own audacity, they then sang, "Zanele is ours", referring to the IFP's National Chairperson, Mrs Zanele kaMagwaza-Msibi.
My concerns deepened as it became clear that the interference in IFP matters by the ANC was intensifying and becoming more strident. I therefore requested a meeting with the Deputy President, Mr Kgalema Motlanthe. We met on the 18th of August and I detailed the same concerns I had raised with the President. The Deputy President expressed surprise and disquiet, which both worried me and led me to hope that these matters would now be taken further.
I cannot go higher than this in seeking resolution to the tensions that are fast forming between our two parties. The criticism that I am speaking behind the backs of ANC's leaders by addressing these issues at the IFP's Extended National Council, is therefore undeserved and malicious.
The evidence is before us and the question is no longer whether or not the ANC is fomenting problems in the IFP. The question is now whether there is collusion at the highest level of the ANC to destroy the IFP. Because, make no mistake, if the enormous resources, power and underhanded tactics of the ANC are brought to bear to destroy the IFP, there can be no other end than the destruction of our Party.
Now that the President and Deputy President know what is happening in their own Party, what are they going to do about it? I fear that a lack of response on their part would indicate that the ANC is truly intent on creating a one party state.
Yours in the service of the nation,
Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP.
Contact: Ms Liezl van der Merwe, 082 729 2510.