Mangosuthu Buthelezi's Online Letter
My dear friends and fellow South Africans,
During the debate on the President's State of the Nation Address last Monday, Deputy Minister of Police, Fikile Mbalula, praised Mr Julius Malema, saying that he is a "jewel" and is the only thing that other parties do not have.
The IFP, for one, is most grateful that we do not have a Malema in our midst. But we also appreciate the Deputy Minister's recognition of the fact that we have everything else; experience, leadership ability, integrity, sound policies, an excellent track record and clear vision for the future.
In any party, one Malema could nullify all of that.
It has been more than a year since Mr Malema announced that the ANC Youth League does not take its lead from the ANC and will not be led by it. The elders in the ANC did not take him to task nor rein him in; but have stood silently by as he proceeded to bad mouth anyone that caught his attention, from Minister of Education Naledi Pandor, to SACP General Secretary Jeremy Cronin, cartoonist Zapiro, Nedbank, the Secretary General of the ANC Mr Gwede Mantashe and former President Thabo Mbeki.
His acrimonious outbursts have not failed to include me, as he has repeatedly made outrageous comments that would be the shame of any father and elicit a quick rebuke. When not blaming everyone around him, who automatically took on the persona of "a racist", he blamed his own ignorance, missing the irony in his declaration that he is not equipped to speak on matters that require factual knowledge.
On several occasions the IFP thought he had gone too far. We have considered legal action. We have written articles and rejoinders in the press. We have made public statements setting the record straight after any one of his many misinformed tirades. Indeed, I even wrote to the President seeking his guidance on how to repair the damage Mr Malema wreaks with his mouth. I never had the privilege of a response from the President.
In the end - we presume - only the President can bring Mr Malema in line. If he is to speak as a mouthpiece for the ANC, from whatever structure, surely the Head of the ANC should back him, or correct him. But last Thursday night Mr Malema made it clear that even President Zuma is not an untouchable mark for his verbal target practice.
Several months ago, Mr Malema sounded his clarion call for the nationalization of our mines. The magnitude of the consequences for our economy instantly turned this into a contentious issue, with economists and investors hoping to see the ANC leadership make a decisive statement against it. During his State of the Nation address, President Zuma noted that nationalization is not ANC policy, but that a debate could be opened on the matter.
The President in fact surprised all of us in Parliament when he said that we must engage Mr Malema and not expect him, as Leader of the ANC, to stop Mr Malema when he makes these outrageous and acrimonious utterances about anyone or on any subject.
Suggesting a debate on nationalization was a mistake. It obfuscated the issue and left investors and potential investors unsure of South Africa's future direction. In my response to the State of the Nation Address I warned that Government must make an unequivocal commitment not to nationalize anything that can survive on its own merit through the economic recession.
Indeed, I believe Government should go further and adopt a policy of privatizing anything that would be better off relinquished from its ownership.
Nevertheless, the olive branch that the President extended to Mr Malema in saying that a debate could be opened on nationalization was quickly slapped down, as Mr Malema declared that he did not need the President to support his ideas; he would go to the grassroots to force nationalization upon us.
I cannot help but wonder if Mr Malema is not the Frankenstein's monster of the ANC. He is an ANC creation, but has perhaps become something they never intended. He seems programmed with propaganda and cannot move beyond his programming to embrace truth or reality. I fear there will be many more bodies in his wake if his "master" fails to restrain him. Indeed, the creator may be destroyed by his creation. Railing against the media on Monday, Malema himself declared: "The only way to destroy this organisation is to destroy this boy."
Those of my generation grew up as young African Nationalists in the ANC and we were quite enamored with the notion of nationalization. But the lessons of history and applied study changed our minds, to the extent that, in 1980 when President Mugabe was installed as the first Prime Minister of a democratic Zimbabwe, President Julius Nyerere warned him not to destroy the economy of Zimbabwe as he had done in Tanzania.
This is a matter which is bound to do incalculable damage to any possible prospects of any reasonable investor considering South Africa as a possible destination for investment. This applies to both foreign and domestic investors. It boggles my mind that the President does not seem to grasp the enormous damage that this is bound to do to any prospects of investment in our country.
Mr Malema must be taken seriously, because he said that they would install President Zuma even if that costs them life itself. And that happened as he predicted. He cannot be taken just as an ANC court jester, but a veritable oracle of the African National Congress. He gives the impression of being someone who says all the things the ANC wishes to say, but doesn't have the guts to utter.
The policy of nationalization is outdated and defamed in economic circles, but still Mr Malema pursues it, perhaps because he fails to grasp its nature and consequences, or perhaps simply because his programming is from a bygone era. This latter explanation sheds light on why Mr Malema holds doggedly to the old propaganda that I or my Party were used by the Apartheid Government to kill fellow South Africans during the liberation struggle.
This old lie has been refuted by President FW de Klerk, by President Nelson Mandela, by President Thabo Mbeki and Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, and now by President Jacob Zuma in Parliament. But Mr Malema cannot be re-programmed with the truth. He insists that his accusation is in line with the findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Yet if he read the TRC reports he would be hard-pressed to support his position.
It is a matter of historical record that the TRC found no evidence to suggest that I ever ordered, authorized, sanctioned or condoned any human rights violations. Nor did I ask for any immunity from prosecution as the President of the ANC, President Mbeki, did on behalf of ANC leaders. These are the facts of the matter.
But for Mr Malema, it doesn't matter if the facts don't line up. It doesn't matter if reality differs from his opinion. And it apparently doesn't matter whether the Leader of the ANC agrees with him or not. His threats that he will take his ill-advised ideas to the masses in order to override Government are reminiscent of another ANC tactic; the stirring of disrespect for authority that ends in ungovernability. Again I shall say it; he is a dangerous creation.
I regret that President Nelson Mandela's former wife, Ms Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, was present last week when Mr Malema told Wits students that I and former President FW de Klerk were responsible for killing thousands of people. My regret is that Ms Madikizela-Mandela failed to correct him. Last month, bemoaning the fact that the ANC's internal leadership struggles would deeply wound Madiba if he knew about them, Ms Madikizela-Mandela was quoted as insisting that Mr Malema is not the problem: "He's my product. His rebellious attitude is part of the process of growing up. And he will make a great leader one day."
President Zuma made similar comments in October last year, acknowledging that the ANC had made Malema and that he was a leader in the making. The President said, "He is a young man who is in the process of growing up" and he defended Malema's controversial statements by saying, "He really thinks he is an African."
As I told the President in Parliament last week, for the sake of our country I must offer my admonitions, criticism and insight. Accordingly, I must warn the ruling party to stop seeing Mr Malema as a wayward child with great potential. He is a grown man with great power. And he is using that power to great destruction.
Yours in the service of the nation,
Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP
President: Inkatha Freedom Party
Media enquiries: Liezl van der Merwe, 082 729 2510.