Mangosuthu Buthelezi's Online Letter
Dear friends and fellow South Africans,
Waiting for the court's decision on whether or not our Party's highest decision making body can go ahead with a disciplinary hearing against its National Chairperson has proven quite uncomfortable. Out of respect for the judicial process, we have refrained from commenting on the case.
But now, on the front page of Monday's The Mercury, Mrs kaMagwaza-Msibi has thrown down the gauntlet, and it is difficult to keep silent. In a glorious display of politicking, she has accused the IFP of placing her under house arrest.
The article employs a quote by a so-called political analyst, Imraan Buccus, who claims that Mrs kaMagwaza-Msibi is the IFP's only hope.
But I recall Mr Buccus also writing: "It is never acceptable for a politician to engage in an enormous display of (their) own power. It is never acceptable for a politician to put the lives of ordinary people at risk so that (they) can look like a big, powerful (person).
These are basic democratic principles that are simply non negotiable."
Initially, when news broke about the tragic incident at Enseleni last week, where shots were fired at an IFP meeting and five people were shot, it was reported that IFP leaders stormed the marquee. The tacit suggestion was that these leaders had fired the shots. But that is not the case. Now The Mercury reports Mrs kaMagwaza-Msibi claiming that she and other members were attacked at the meeting. That is also not the case.
Increasingly we are seeing reports of violent outbreaks at political meetings of the ANC. This is not the culture of the IFP. Thus I feel I cannot keep silent about the Enseleni incident. Our National Organiser, Mr Albert Mncwango, has tried to set the record straight in the media. But instead of being doused by the truth, this fire is being flamed by ever expanding lies.
Whenever an IFP leader is invited to address a meeting, leaders of our National Council accompany them to offer support and assistance. We do this for all our leaders, and our National Chairperson has been no exception. But when leaders arrived at the event in Enseleni, a group of thugs tried to bar them from entering. This was an IFP event and barring IFP leaders from attending made no sense. Our leaders had to push their way in.
Mrs kaMagwaza-Msibi made no effort to assist her colleagues or disabuse the thugs who were trying to bar their entry. This is in contrast to Sunday's meeting at which she was the guest speaker, where people with no affiliation or standing in the IFP were welcomed in and hailed by the gathering.
None of our leaders fired shots in Enseleni. None of them drew guns.
This dangerous practice of coming to meetings armed has been brought into the IFP by the "Friends of VZ". Never before have meetings of the IFP been disrupted by gunshots and bloodshed, until the "Friends of VZ" began stirring up violence. At Enseleni, some thugs brought guns and randomly fired shots in the meeting. Chaos ensued.
Over the past year, there has been one incident after the next in which the "Friends of VZ" disrupted meetings with violence. That happened while Mrs kaMagwaza-Msibi protested that she did not want to be their leader. But now that she has stated in court that she intends to stand for IFP President, her followers have become more zealous.
Whenever the ill-informed label the "Friends of VZ" as being "reformists" I am at a loss to know what they mean. Are they suggesting it would be beneficial to "reform" the IFP from being a party of discipline, respect and integrity, into a copycat version of the ANC Youth League? Should we "reform" towards violence and disrupted meetings, flouting of our Constitution, disrespect for our own leaders, dishonesty and corruption?
That is not a reformation I can be part of. Enseleni made it clear to us that it would be courting disaster to send our National Chairperson to address IFP meetings before these tensions are resolved. We therefore suggested that in view of what has happened she should cease from public appearances until judgement in the 12 November court case is delivered.
We have made these kinds of tough calls before. In July this year we again postponed our Conference when police warned us of an assassination plot. Intelligence reports confirmed that guns and ammunition were being moved from Durban to Ulundi. Officers were sent to warn me that, based on their assessment, my life was in danger. I did not fear for my own life. But because I value other people's lives, I felt the IFP had to weigh up our responsibility in the circumstances.
Following Enseleni, we felt our National Chairperson would agree that people's lives are more important than politicking. But it seems we were wrong. Not only did she address the event to mark 16 Days of Activism, but she used the opportunity to diverge from anything related to women and children to speak about IFP party matters.
The whole issue of our withdrawing Mrs kaMagwaza-Msibi's bodyguards has been intentionally blown out of proportion. The National Police Commissioner assures me that she has bodyguards allocated to her, just as they are to our Secretary-General and to me. On Sunday Mrs kaMagwaza-Msibi went to great lengths to explain to the Albert Park gathering that she was present in her own capacity and not as the Chairperson of the Party. Is a cash strapped party supposed to give four additional bodyguards and a car to someone attending meetings as a private individual?
We have treated our National Chairperson with the utmost respect, even when she began failing to attend meetings as her position requires. If she questions the legitimacy of the IFP's leadership, she is compelled to question the legitimacy of her own position.
But perhaps we should hold from following that argument to its logical conclusion until the court has made its decision.
Yours in the service of the nation,
Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP
Contact: Liezl van der Merwe, Press Secretary to Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP, 082 729 2510.