BUILDING ON A STRONG LEGACY IN A NEW SEASON OF STRUGGLE FOR ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL JUSTICE STRUCTURED ON DEMOCRATIC IDEALS
PRINCE MANGOSUTHU BUTHELEZI MP
PRESIDENT OF THE INKATHA FREEDOM PARTY
Ulundi: Saturday, 24 August 2019
A lifetime will never be enough to serve a country that I love so much.
I rise today not to deliver the usual speech, but to close an era. To do that properly, I am obliged to speak on the history of our liberation struggle. Thus, what I deliver today is a lesson in history as much as a call to the future. I plead for your patience as I speak about the past.
It weighs heavily on my mind that this will be the last time I address a national conference of the Inkatha Freedom Party as your President. I realise that what I say here today will be remembered as my final words.
But somehow that doesn’t dampen my spirit. I am excited to hand over the baton to the next generation of leaders. I have confidence that we have done everything possible to secure a smooth transition into the next chapter of the IFP. This Party is standing in a place of strength. There has been a resurgence in support and a growth in membership that speaks of the IFP’s continued value in the politics of South Africa, and in the hearts of the people.
Now is the time, and we are ready. We are entering a new season.
This new season for the IFP coincides with a new season in our country. I am not talking about the so-called “new dawn”, but about the season of struggle that has opened for South Africa.
After a quarter of a century of freedom, we have moved into a new struggle that will take the same depth and consistency of commitment that our past struggle for freedom demanded. The liberation struggle that my generation waged is over. The struggle of this generation is for social and economic justice.
Yet our greatest weapon from the struggle of the past is still our greatest weapon now. That is something we need to understand. It was our belief in democratic ideals that sustained us through the onslaught of political oppression, racial discrimination and hatred. It was the triumph of democratic ideals that brought this country to the threshold of change, and delivered us safely into freedom.
I believe, with utter conviction, that the struggle for social and economic justice will be won on the strength of democratic ideals. It is these ideals that have the power to transform us again, from a nation of economic crisis, to a nation of economic strength; from a nation of inequality, to a nation of justice.
There is, however, a very real threat to our democratic ideals. As much as these ideals had enemies in our liberation struggle, they have enemies now in the struggle for justice. It seems absurd, after all we have done to entrench democracy. But there is a threat. It took root quietly, in the dark, in the fertile soil of anger, dissatisfaction and hope deferred.
Out of that soil a threat has grown up, and has matured into a call for revolution. Not the revolution of goodwill that we long desired. But a revolution of destruction, to tear down every symbol of discontent, regardless of any damage that may do to the economy, to social cohesion, or our shared future.
In the midst of this impending threat, and faced with the struggle for justice, the IFP carries a unique destiny. We have within us the DNA of unity, integrity and truth. Over 44 years, the IFP has established a legacy. We have been, consistently, the champion of democratic ideals. Throughout the liberation struggle, no matter the twists and turns it took, Inkatha remained true to the mission.
That is our legacy. And it is that legacy that we must bring to bear as we engage this new season of struggle. We must be, once again, the champion of democratic ideals. Where others abandon the ideals of democracy and adopt new ideologies of division, autocracy and self-enrichment, the IFP must stay the course, speaking with the voice of reason and calling our nation back to democracy.
But before I talk to you about the struggle ahead, let me speak about where we come from, and how we came to be where we are now. This history is important, because it equips us with a proper understanding of South Africa, and of the IFP’s destiny.
From the 17th century people came from abroad and saw this country. Admiring its beauty, they decided to dispossess us of our land. This was done through wars that they waged against people, from the Cape to what is today called East Africa and West Africa.
There were so-called “kaffir wars” in the Cape, waged purely to dispossess us of our land. There was the Anglo-Zulu War which white historians like to designate as the Zulu War. There were wars in other parts of this country, such as wars against the Pedi people in which King Sekhukhuni distinguished himself so much as a man of great valour that he earned the admiration of my maternal great grandfather, King Cetshwayo. King Cetshwayo actually sent some gold sovereigns to King Sekhukhuni to support his resistance to black dispossession of land by invaders.
I must go into detail about what happened in every part of our land because, after British invasion, we all finally became the vanquished and the landless.
In this part of the country, King Cetshwayo – after he was exiled to the Cape – requested to meet with the British Monarch, Queen Victoria. He was hoping to return to his Kingdom. Unfortunately, the terms on which he returned were quite unacceptable because Lord Kimberly, the then British Secretary of Colonies, had divided the Kingdom into 13 parts, and the King’s nobles were encouraged not to regard him as their sovereign anymore.
This led to civil wars between the Zulu people. King Cetshwayo’s son, King Dinuzulu, suffered the same fate as his father, and ended up exiled on the island of St Helena. King Solomon ka Dinuzulu was born on the island of St Helena, as were his siblings, Prince Mshiyeni ka Dinuzulu, Prince Nyawana ka Dinuzulu, Princess Mgqwashu ka Dinuzulu and Prince Bhekelendoda ka Dinuzulu. My mother, Princess Magogo ka Dinuzulu, was born at Osuthu Royal Residence after the King’s return.
At the end of the civil wars, most of our best land was taken over by white South Africa. The King and Amakhosi remained perched on the bits and pieces on which they were residing. Many of our people were removed from most of their ancestral land. In a book titled, “Kaffirs Are Lively”, a journalist by the name of Oliver Walker described the land that remained as beautiful rockeries. He said even a baboon would need crutches to walk on it.
Just a few years after King Dinuzulu’s return from St Helena, Inkosi Bhambatha ka Mancinza of the Zondi Clan in Greytown District started what is often described in history books as the Bhambatha Rebellion of 1906. After starting that resistance, Inkosi Bhambatha took his wife, Siyekiwe Zondi (uMaZuma), and his daughter Kholekile, to King Dinuzulu’s Royal Residence at Osuthu. My mother, Princess Magogo ka Dinuzulu, often told us of how they played with Kholekile at Osuthu Royal Residence.
Inkosi Bhambatha’s wife, Siyekiwe, then went to the Magistrate’s office at Mahlabathini to tell the Magistrate that she and her daughter had been hidden by King Dinuzulu at his Osuthu Residence. As a result, King Dinuzulu was arrested and charged with High Treason in Greytown. He was convicted and jailed at the Newcastle jail.
In 1910, when the English and Afrikaners decided to form the white state called the Union of South Africa, General Louis Botha became its first Prime Minister. It was only then that Prime Minister Botha released King Dinuzulu. However he was not allowed to return to his home. Instead he was exiled on the farm “Uitkyk” in what was then the Middleburg District in the Province of Transvaal. It was there that King Dinuzulu died in October 1913.
We suffered the same oppression after the Union from the governments of South Africa.
King Solomon ka Dinuzulu succeeded his father on the throne, although officially he was called “the Chief of Usuthu”. He passed away on March 4, 1933, and his younger brother Prince Mshiyeni ka Dinuzulu succeeded him as Regent of the Zulu Nation. In 1948 King Cyprian Nyangayezizwe Bhekuzulu was installed, first like his father as “the Chief of Usuthu”. It was during his time that the then government decided to give him the title “Paramount Chief of the Zulus”, a title which had no legal implications.
In 1951 the South African Parliament passed a law called the Bantu Authorities Act. After the passing away of King Cyprian Bhekuzulu ka Solomon, his brother Prince Mcwayizeni Israel ka Solomon was installed as Regent, since our present King was still under age. However, he too was installed as Paramount Chief of the Zulu Nation.
Political activity was heating up. In 1960, Robert Sobukwe organised a protest by the Pan Africanist Congress, which had broken away from the African National Congress. The PAC burned their dompasses, which all of us as black people had to carry. This was done in Sharpeville in what was then the Transvaal. As a result, our people who were in that demonstration were shot with live ammunition by the Police. People were killed.
Inkosi Albert Luthuli, who had been officially deposed as Inkosi when he became the leader of the African National Congress, then gave an instruction that members of the African National Congress should also burn their dompasses. He started with his own.
The Apartheid Regime reacted sharply by banning our political movements; the African National Congress, the Pan Africanist Congress, the Azanian People’s Organisation and others. Many of the leaders were placed on banning orders as well.
The South African Government actively encouraged African people on the basis of ethnicity to “accept” the Bantu Authorities Act of 1951, which was the basis of the big effort of white South Africa to dispossess black South Africans of their land. According to this arrangement, black South Africans were to be stripped of their South African citizenship and blacks were to be foreigners in 87% of the land.
We were to be citizens of the bits and pieces of land, which comprised only of 13%, on which we blacks remained perched after they dispossessed us of the rest of our country.
Here in KwaZulu, we resisted “accepting” the Bantu Authorities Act. The South African government were being clever in that they wanted the world to be given the impression that we as black South Africans abandoned our South African citizenship of our own volition.
All along I argued that it was not for me as Inkosi to “accept” this system of governing South Africa, and that we would make up our mind when we had observed how it operated in those clans that had “accepted” the Bantu Authorities Act.
But at long last, officials were sent to address the Buthelezi Clan to say we were “wrongly instructed” when it was said that we had any choice in the matter. This was a government law like any law.
In the meantime, our leader the President of the African National Congress, Inkosi Albert Luthuli, and Mr Oliver Tambo, had sent Mr Cleopas Nsibande to my sister in Daveyton. Mr Nsibande later became the ANC’s Gauteng interim leader. My sister, Princess Morgina, was married to a medico Dr Mafu Dotwana from the Eastern Cape, who practiced in Daveyton. Inkosi Luthuli happened to be in Wattville where Mr Tambo’s residence was situated. These happen to be townships in Benoni.
The message that Inkosi Luthuli and Mr Tambo sent through Mr Cleopas Nsibande was that seeing that the Bantu Authorities Act was being forced down our throats, I should not refuse to accept leading it, if Amakhosi and representatives of all districts in KwaZulu requested me to lead.
They said they were instructing me to do so notwithstanding the fact that our movement, the African National Congress, was opposed to the setting up of these Homelands Governments. They said they asked me to do so as they saw me as a member of the organisation who would ensure that the breaking up of Zululand from South Africa would never be achieved, if it was me as a cadre of the ANC who was in charge of the KwaZulu government.
KwaZulu was the bits and pieces of land on which the King, Amakhosi and their people were perched. In fact, when I was in charge of it, one of the reasons I gave that we could never accept it as a country is that it was an archipelago of 10 non-contiguous pieces. I always compared the map of KwaZulu to the skin of a Dalmatian dog!
Strangely, all of a sudden, the South African government – without consulting us or the King – excised the District of Ingwavuma and decided to give it to the Kingdom of Swaziland, during the reign of King Sobhuza II. As Chief Minister of KwaZulu, I took them to the High Court and I won the case. The government took it to the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein, and we again won it and the government lost it in 1982.
The reason the court judged in our favour was that the South African government had no right to take any piece of land in KwaZulu without consulting us.
Against this background, it is absurd that two panels have now recommended that the Ingonyama Trust Act must be amended or repealed. I piloted that Act and it was passed by the KwaZulu Legislative Assembly. After 1994, when some people in the ANC were baying for my blood, the law we had passed was taken to the democratic Parliament where it was thoroughly debated, amended and retained. That was more than two decades ago!
Whenever land is discussed, we look back to 1913. It was in 1913 that the South African government passed the Native Land Act when they decided to hoard 87% of South Africa for themselves and allot just 13% to the majority of the population of this country.
Shortly before that infamous Act, in January 1912, a young lawyer from Inanda by the name of Dr Pixley ka Isaka Seme entered the scene. He had qualified in both the United States and Great Britain. Dr Seme invited African leaders to Bloemfontein where he and they founded the African National Native Congress, which would later become the ANC.
Dr Seme was married to my Aunt, Princess Phikisile Harriet ka Dinuzulu, King Dinuzulu’s first born. When I was doing matric in 1947, I used to be invited to his residence. He would then ask me to do some errands. He would dictate letters to various people, which I wrote in long-hand, and he would sign them.
So the issue of land has been central to our struggle for liberation.
In April 1994, we achieved our political emancipation, but the land was still in the hands of the white minority. That is why, as a Party, we support the expropriation of land with some compensation, as enshrined in our country’s Constitution.
While the present government’s programme of restoring land to our people has been so slow in the last 25 years, it is surprising that they should be salivating for the Ingonyama Trust Land, which are the bits and pieces under the King administered by him and his Amakhosi in accordance with indigenous and customary law.
On the long and difficult road we travelled, when there was hardly any mobilisation in our country, I happened to be invited with Mr Oliver Tambo to Ethiopia, in 1974, to debate the then burning issue of the ANC’s strategy of urging the international community to impose economic sanctions and disinvestment on South Africa. After our almost all-night debate on the issue at the Hilton Hotel in Nairobi, Kenya, Mr Oliver Tambo, decided not to proceed to Addis Ababa where the debate was taking place.
As my leader, he recommended that I should proceed to Ethiopia to participate in the debate on the imposition of sanctions and disinvestment. He said that it would look bad if we both went to Ethiopia to give different views, as both of us were leaders from South Africa. I did as my leader said.
On my return to Nairobi, where there was a celebration of Kenya’s independence, I rejoined Mr Tambo. I then decided that I would go to Lusaka in Zambia, and to Dar-Es-Salaam in Tanzania, to thank both President Kaunda and President Julius Nyerere for giving sanctuary to all our political exiles.
While I was in Lusaka, President Kaunda sent me to visit the office of his Party, UNIP. He asked me to return to State House afterwards, where I found him with all senior leaders of his Party. He told me that after Sharpeville he and other leaders of the Frontline States appreciated that I had become the only voice speaking about the liberation of our country. He said that they wished to thank me.
At the same time he said that, while what I was doing was appreciated, it was not good enough. He asked that when I return to South Africa, that I should found a membership-based organisation in order to reignite political mobilisation.
I consulted Mr Tambo as my leader, and he agreed. I then consulted Bishop Alphaeus Zulu, who advised me to lean towards culture to avoid this organisation suffering the same fate as our political movements. Thus, on his advice, I founded the National Cultural Liberation Movement – Inkatha yeNkululeko yeSizwe – on the 21st of March 1975.
This history has been hidden and misrepresented for years. But this year, on the 21st of February, I visited the first President of Zambia, Dr Kenneth Kaunda, after being received by His Excellency Mr Edgar Chagwa Lungu, the President of Zambia.
During my visit, Dr Kaunda delivered a statement that confirms the truth of all I have said. I wish to read that statement now, so that it may become part of the record of history –
“Prince Mangosuthu Gatsha Buthelezi
President of the Inkatha Freedom Party, and my dear brother
Welcome to my humble home and to Zambia.
Prince Buthelezi we first met in 1974 here in Lusaka when I was a leader of a young independent nation of Zambia and was honoured to be leader of the front line states which were all newly independent states. We hosted South African political exiles and freedom fighters. Hosting political exiles and freedom fighters was a huge risk to our own freedom as a nation. Financially we could not afford this task since Ian Smith had closed the borders for us to transport goods through Rhodesia. The security risk was enormous on our people as the Apartheid Regime in South Africa was becoming more and more vicious. But we had to do that historic duty for the freedom of black people. I am a very proud man we did this and all God’s children in South Africa, black, white, yellow, etc are free today as God’s children. Your visit to Zambia for N’cwala and to me to thank us for the role we played in that struggle is indeed very significant.
When you as a youthful Zulu Prince visited us in Zambia, I understood very well the risks you were taking on to your shoulders. As the 1970’s progressed, it was becoming clearer to all of us in the front line states that the Apartheid Regime was growing more and more vicious and oppressive to the black people. The outcome of their viciousness was more and more of the young people freeing the country to fight for freedom. The physical and social conditions for young people like you became unbearable and unacceptable.
Clearly the conditions in apartheid South Africa made the struggle for liberation waged from outside the country necessary. But at the same time this was not completely ideal because it made the internal mobilisation and organisation of your oppressed masses difficult. We were facing a real difficult situation and ordinary people in that country were beginning to lose hope in the struggle. This is the challenge the African National Congress in which you were a prominent member was faced with. We therefore, decided to come up with other means of mobilizing the masses inside South Africa. It was then that we agreed to instruct you to form a mass-based organisation from within. Because a dangerous vacuum was developing in that country. I and other leaders of the front line states, together with comrade Oliver Tambo of the ANC were convinced that you should take up a new role in the organisation. You were most suited for this job because you came from the Zulu Royal family. When you visited in 1974 you were encouraged to go back to Apartheid South Africa and form a membership-based organisation since the African National Congress was by this time a banned political organisation and that most of its leaders including comrade Nelson Mandela had been put in prison. You shouldered that responsibility and advanced the struggle for liberation by cultural means during that critical period of our time. Let me thank you for taking up that historical instruction and task with such dedication and honour.
I know there were difficult days in the struggle especially in the 1980’s when brother turned against brother, resulting in unfortunate violence and death among black people. It is during that period that you showed your unwavering courage and commitment to the cause of liberation. I am today a very proud man that freedom came to South Africa in our lifetime.
Thank you once again Prince Mangosuthu for the course you took with such dedication. I am gratified that you have continued to do so this day. Your role in the struggle is never in doubt. Even Madiba recognized and honoured you by making you his minister of Home Affairs and asked you to act as president in his place.
My dear brother you honoured me last year by inviting me to come to KwaZulu Natal to celebrate with you your 90th birthday. I was excited and humbled to come myself, but I sent my eldest son Panji Kaunda and Ambassador George Kanyamula Zulu, one of your own tribesmen here in Zambia to represent me. Thank you for receiving them with much love. May you enjoy your visit to Zambia and enjoy the N’cwala Ceremony of the Ngoni people, a ceremony that links the Ngonis of Zambia to the Zulu Kingdom in South Africa. May God our Creator bless you with many more years ahead.”
Inkatha yeNkululeko yeSizwe worked closely with the ANC’s mission-in-exile. We continued to communicate with Mr Tambo through emissaries, and he and I met as well, abroad.
Then, in October 1979, at Mr Tambo’s request, he and I met in London with delegations of the ANC and Inkatha. We talked for two and a half days. He put two issues to us. He wanted Inkatha to endorse the policy of imposing economic sanctions and disinvestment on South Africa, and he wanted us to endorse the armed struggle.
We had a cordial discussion, but we as Inkatha could not agree to endorse those two policies which Mr Tambo recommended to us. I recommended what I called a multi-strategy approach, for each organisation to do what it was doing, and to accept that it would be the cumulative effect that would ultimately make the cookie crumble, as the Americans would say.
On the issue of imposing economic sanctions and disinvestment, I had held huge rallies in the townships in Durban, Soweto, Langa and Bloemfontein, and people responded by saying that they would starve to death if that policy was followed.
As far as the armed struggle is concerned, I remembered my two-hour discussion with President Julius Nyerere in 1974 when he said to me that there was not a single defence force in Africa, nor even a combination of forces, that could take on the South African Defence Force, militarily.
I still appreciated that both the strategies of the ANC would make a contribution towards our liberation. For example, the threat of violence was contributing towards our liberation. But Inkatha could not abandon the principle of non-violence, nor could we go against what the people instructed on the issue of sanctions.
In the end, Inkatha and the ANC agreed to meet again a few weeks later, after a meeting of the ANC’s NEC.
Sadly, that never happened. Instead, Mr Tambo issued a press statement denying that our meeting in London had even taken place. And a few months later, in June 1980, the ANC’s Secretary-General Mr Alfred Nzo launched a scathing attack on me. After that, the sluice gates were open and the ANC waged an international campaign of vilification against me and Inkatha.
They later imposed what they called a “People’s War” in South Africa, which resulted in the ugly black-on-black violence.
With this long history behind us, I feel that an era is drawing to a close. I am deeply grateful that I can close this chapter with my mind at peace. As I pass on the baton to a new President of the IFP, I am able to say: Mission Accomplished!
I can say with a clear conscience that I complied with the instructions of my leaders, Inkosi Albert Luthuli and Mr Oliver Tambo, to ensure that the bits and pieces of land where we were perched under our King did not become a “Bantustan” like the TBVC states. We resisted ever being foreigners in South Africa.
By rejecting independence a’la Pretoria, I prevented the apartheid regime from stripping all of us of our South African citizenship. In so doing, I protected all black people from being foreigners in our own country.
At the same time, it is a fact of history that I managed to bring together the people of this Province of all races through the Buthelezi Commission and the KwaZulu/Natal Indaba. Before 1994, we created the KwaZulu Natal Legislative Authority; the first non-racial government in South Africa.
I thank all the people who made it possible across all races in this Province. I particularly wish to pay a special tribute to those who have passed away.
Beyond this, I must thank President de Klerk for heeding my plea to release Mandela and other political prisoners, so that we could finalise the liberation of this country without further loss of human life.
I pay tribute to President Nelson Mandela, my friend and fellow freedom fighter, and to other leaders across all political parties, such as Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe, Steve Biko and several martyrs of our struggle, who are too numerous to name here.
I pay my respects to great patriots who led our black resistance, our Traditional Leaders; such as King Cetshwayo ka Mpande, King Sekhukhuni, King Maqoma, and Kings of other Nations in Africa who with their people paid with their lives for our freedom.
I thank President Kenneth Kaunda, President Julius Nyerere, and other front line state Presidents, and Presidents of many African countries who hosted so many thousands of our political exiles of all parties.
I thank the many in the international community who contributed so much to our titanic struggle to liberate South Africa, the last country in Africa to be liberated.
I am left with only one regret. What was done to me by one of my leaders, Mr Oliver Tambo, opened a wound that has yet to be healed.
After we achieved liberation in 1994, we worked together with the ANC in the Government of National Unity. I was Minister of Home Affairs under both the leadership of President Mandela and President Mbeki. Over the years, many efforts were made to bring about reconciliation between the two organisations, but this has never been fully achieved. It is something that must be achieved, to normalise the political relationship between our organisations.
This work now lies in the future.
My greatest sadness is that I won’t get to see the next chapter of the IFP. I won’t be amongst the men and women who cross into the promised land of social and economic justice, having endured the struggle ahead. This is not because I am stepping down, but because in a few days’ time I will turn 91. Common sense tells me that my time is short. There is so much I will not get to see.
I have a consolation, though. You will get to see it. I cannot tell you how privileged I feel to have worked alongside so many extraordinary patriots. It would be impossible for me to recount the names of those who have walked this journey with me and have distinguished themselves as leaders. I can only thank God for His infinite wisdom, for bringing together so many remarkable people.
I must say thank you to the leaders of our Party who are present here today. You have been chosen by history to take the IFP into a new season. But I know that you know that there are many more who came before you, whose dedication and sacrifice brought us to this point. I am humbled to have served South Africa hand in hand with them, and with you. May our future leaders carry that legacy with pride.
It is, however, not only our leaders that I must thank. I owe a debt of gratitude to the rank and file of the IFP’s members; to the faithful who have voted for us since 1994, and to those who have tied their destiny to the destiny of the IFP. While some have only joined the IFP recently, many have grown up in this Party.
I am proud when I see people wearing IFP regalia. I am proud when total strangers write to me to thank me for what the IFP is doing. And I am proud to know that the IFP has been a good home for so many struggling South Africans.
Because we haven’t just demanded political allegiance. We have substantially changed the lives of countless individuals.
We built more than 6000 classrooms. We built Teacher Training Colleges. We created industrial estates and brought investors to our country, to create jobs in the various parts of our Province. We built houses for our people in all townships; decent houses. Even though of all the homelands’ governments, we received a shoe-string-budget from Pretoria on a per capita basis. Less was budgeted by Pretoria for the education in KwaZulu. We, on the basis of our belief in self-help and self-reliance, created a rand-for-rand basis; financing to add something in order to build schools and pay for others of our people’s needs.
I wish in this connection to thank our King and Amakhosi who responded to my message of self-help and self-reliance. I must also thank the late head of the Divine Life Society, Swamiji Sahajananda, who assisted us with the huge job of building so many schools and other facilities. I also thank the Natal Education Committee which was led by my late friend, Professor Fatima Meer. I also equally thank the Lockat brothers for their contribution.
We stopped multi-nationals from packing up and leaving South Africa, taking with them thousands of jobs. I travelled all over the world to appeal to Heads of States, such as American President Jimmy Carter, President Reagan and President Bush, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in the United Kingdom, Chancellor Helmut Kohl in Germany and Mr Den Uyl in the Netherlands; asking them not to endorse the policy of withdrawing multi-national companies from South Africa; which would have resulted in more job losses for our people had I not done what I did. The foundation of the joblessness which has destroyed economic growth was as a result of these economic sanctions and the disinvestment campaign.
I must not forget other Heads of State who demonstrated their appreciation and encouragement for my humble contribution to the liberation of South Africa. President William Tolbert of Liberia invited me to Liberia and he awarded me one of Liberia’s national orders. He awarded me; “The Knight Commander of the Star of Africa” order.
Then President Giscard Destang of France awarded me one of the French National Orders; “The National Order of Merit.”
In the United States, one of the largest trade unions in the world, the AFL-CIO (The Council of Industrial Organization of the American Federation of Labour) awarded me their highest honour; “The George Meany Human Rights Award.” This was in recognition of my work amongst black workers who at the time were not allowed to be members of trade unions. I was then Chancellor of the School for Industrial Workers in Durban, which we ran with the late Professor Lawrence Schlemmer of the University of Natal. In 1973, the Minister of Labour who later was appointed State President Mr Marais Viljoen chided me for the assistance during the 1973 Durban strikes which we as the KwaZulu Government with my Minister of Interior, the late Mr Barney Dladla gave to workers in Durban. I responded by saying that when the South African Government created the Government of KwaZulu, they said it was for Zulus wherever they are.
What made me humble about receiving this AFL-CIO Award, is that it was awarded to me, jointly with Dr Neil Aggett, a young trade unionist that was alleged to have been murdered by the Apartheid Regime, similar to the case of Timol’s murder. So for Dr Aggett, this human rights award was being awarded post-humous.
Then I was also granted audience by three Pontiffs; His Holiness Pope Paul VI and His Holiness Pope John II before liberation. And another audience by Pope John Paul II after liberation. And also an audience by His Holiness Benedict VII.
The Pontiffs are also sovereign heads of the Vatican State. I have received two Apostolic Blessings from Pope Francis.
We sent women to be trained in community leadership at international institutions.
We prevented all-out war in South Africa, which would have reduced our country to ashes.
We secured the creation of provinces, which puts a check on a centralised government.
We placed a Bill of Rights in our democratic Constitution, to ensure that a government of the majority respects individual and group rights.
We prioritised education while everywhere else schools were being burned to the ground.
We delivered anti-retrovirals to address mother-to-child transmission of HIV/Aids. We joined Mr Achmat and his NGO in a court case in which they were asking the court to force the ANC government to supply Nevirapine to pregnant mothers. We instructed our Premier Dr Lionel Mtshali to go to court to prove that the IFP-led government was already supplying Nevirapine, since the ANC in this Province were opposing that this be done by saying it is impossible. The then Minister of Health even went to the High Court to say that he, as Minister of Health, has the competence of health in the Province. The court ruled that the final authority in the Province resides in the Premier.
We stood up to oppressors and secured a seat for everyone around the negotiating table.
Behind every one of these victories is a story I could tell you today. These are the stories of the IFP’s legacy, and they must be told. It is vital that future generations remember the battles and victories of the past. These are the things that encourage us, reminding us that what seems utterly impossible, can in fact be done.
This is why I have called on our Youth Brigade and our Women’s Brigade to reignite political education, ensuring that at branch level we convey to our members the real story of the IFP. It is this that grows cohesion and commitment.
In the early years of Inkatha, long before WhatsApp groups and Facebook, people used to gather in branch meetings and talk about the issues of the day. At grassroots level, people made the time and created the space to listen and participate.
Let me not be misunderstood. There is tremendous value in posting your Tweet about our country, and in following a newsfeed. But there is still something unique in people physically engaging with one another, in a face to face conversation. It is there that ideas are sparked, consensus is reached, and collaborations develop.
I have therefore emphasised the value of going back to grassroots activism; getting people into one venue and sharing information. We are blessed to have the benefit of technology to arrange these things and to convey messages quickly and widely. But let’s not substitute a Facebook post for an afternoon of collaborative debate. We must use technology to further our cause, not allow it to dictate the strength or length of our message.
Would it have been the same if we sent out an sms asking you to vote online for your next leaders? Of course not! It is important to come together, to have your say, to listen to one another, to consider ideas and test arguments. This is what democracy is all about.
Every one of you in this venue has been chosen by your structures to represent their voice. You are here to carry the mandate of your structure into the decisions of the Party.
And the collective decisions we will take today are far-reaching indeed.
During this conference you will choose a new Party President, a Deputy President, a National Chairperson and Deputy National Chairperson, a Secretary General and a Deputy Secretary General, as well as 34 committee members who will serve on our National Council. This, in terms of our Constitution, is done through an elective national conference, to ensure that the democratic will of the Party is done and seen to be done.
I think we can be proud of the fact that our Extended National Council put forward only one candidate to stand for election as Party President. It was a unanimous decision. For years our detractors have tried to create the impression that there is a big storm raging in the IFP over who will be the next President. It turns out, that was a storm in a teacup. There is far greater unity within the IFP than our opponents are willing to acknowledge.
I realise, of course, that conference is well within its rights to nominate a second, third or fourth candidate to stand for election. But I am impressed by the degree of unity that has been expressed as we engaged the processes leading up to this conference.
My prayer is that we will leave this weekend having proven our opponents wrong. They are wrong to think that the IFP has reached the end of the road. This is just the beginning. They are wrong to think that the IFP will not survive. We have been restored as the official opposition in this Province through a national election. They are wrong to think that we are divided internally beyond repair. The IFP is moving and speaking as one. And they are also wrong to think that I am clinging to power.
That particular accusation has hurt me tremendously. It has impacted on my family, because clearly the longer I was asked to remain at the helm, the less time I had left to spend with my children and my beloved wife. It was not my own decision to remain as Party President for so many years. But I am a democrat. When my Party asked me to lead, I accepted. There was always good reason behind the request, and I feel – as hard as it was – that we made the right decision.
We needed to reach this point ready and able. For the sake of the IFP, and for the sake of our country, we had to properly prepare the way for this moment.
Let me speak for a moment about my family, for they have given me the greatest gift through their support. My heart bleeds for the time I cannot regain with my late wife, Indlunkulu Irene. I cannot imagine a better helpmeet in the journey of service that I have walked. She was a rock to me and a mother to many in the IFP. She loved and served this Party with vigour, compassion and commitment. She believed in what we were doing, and she was deeply involved.
It is to my wife, and to my mother, Princess Magogo ka Dinuzulu, that I owe so much. In a very real sense, they were my mentors as much as my uncle, Dr Pixley ka Isaka Seme, Inkosi Albert Luthuli, Bishop Alphaeus Zulu and Professor Zachariah Keodireleng Matthews.
Dr Seme imbued me with politics. Inkosi Luthuli imparted servant leadership. Bishop Zulu was a key figure in the founding of this organisation. But Princess Magogo ka Dinuzulu taught me strength and courage; and Princess Irene taught me compassion.
When I look back on my life it is clear to me that mentorship played a pivotal role in developing both my character and my beliefs. It worries me that so many young people today are growing up without mentors.
Our youth face extraordinary hardship. Unemployment has already reached 29%. But among the youth, it has reached 52%. Millions of able-bodied young people are sitting at home without work and without an income.
In many cases, the education system has failed them, and they have left school without being equipped to enter the labour force. But for many others, it is simply a case of there being no jobs available. There are university graduates, with marketable skills and a high level of training, who are still unemployed.
It is not just the education system that has failed our youth. The economy has failed them as well. When South Africa entered democracy in 1994, we inherited a strong economy. But we were also faced, for the first time, with the constitutional requirement of meeting everyone’s needs with the resources available. It was no longer a case of resources being used for some, and denied to others.
In those first years of democracy, when I served in President’s Mandela’s Cabinet as Minister of Home Affairs, I warned our Government of National Unity again and again that we needed to focus on growing the economy. Regardless of how we sliced the economic pie, there was not enough to feed everyone. It wasn’t just about rearranging the columns, but about growing the fundamental base of our economy.
This call for strong economic growth is part of the IFP’s legacy. Just as we petitioned for federalism and the devolution of powers, we petitioned at the negotiating table for a free market economy, where business could flourish, jobs could be created, and investment could be secured.
Today, economists can trace back the history of economic collapse and pinpoint the problem. The ruling Party never committed to one economic policy. Instead they allowed their tripartite alliance partners, the South African Communist Party and the Congress of Trade Unions, to dictate policies that were neither fish nor fowl.
Thus Government leaders would speak about creating a developmental state, while systematically entrenching a welfare state. We adopted GEAR, and then abandoned GEAR. We adopted the NDP, and then quietly stopped implementing it.
This schizophrenic approach to economic policy has destroyed investor confidence. No wonder South Africa is constantly under threat of receiving junk status. No wonder the Director General of the National Treasury has warned that the coffers are empty, and we might need to start borrowing from multi-national institutions like the BRICS Bank or the International Monetary Fund.
But still Government offers bailouts to failing State-owned enterprises, despite the IFP warning – even years ago while I was still in Cabinet – that we cannot keep pouring money into a bottomless pit. A fundamental policy decision had to be taken. But the ruling Party failed to take it. And now the economy is failing.
The effects of this are felt most keenly by ordinary South Africans. How many of you can make ends meet? Are all the bills paid every month? Do you ever have to wonder how you’ll pay the school fees, or the rent, or how you’ll buy electricity or put food on the table? These are daily worries for most South Africans. Ours is one of the most unequal societies in the world.
No wonder there is constant anxiety, anger and fear eating away at our nation.
This has led to social fragmentation and social ills that we never dreamed possible. Can you imagine a society in which men kill their wives or girlfriends? A society in which this is so common that it doesn’t even make the papers? There is something fundamentally broken in our society. And I am not saying that it is all because of the economy. But the fact that people are being stripped of their dignity and their sense of justice inevitably compounds a breakdown of morality.
Violence against women and children has become one of the monsters that keeps me up at night. Our country faces many problems, and when I think about them, I cannot help but lose sleep. How can I rest – how can anyone rest – when there is so much suffering?
I have therefore given a great deal of thought to the final mandate I would like to issue as the President of the IFP. I have told you to reignite grassroots activism and to strengthen our branches. I have encouraged you to learn about the victories of the past. I have asked you to become active participants in promoting democratic ideals. I have urged you to build, and not destroy.
My final mandate is this: protect our women and children.
Become the champion of the vulnerable, and start speaking about this in every possible forum, from social media to churches to your own kitchen. We need to change our society by shifting the conversation. Here again it is about democratic ideals; about equality, security, freedom and the right to life.
If we give up our democratic ideals so lightly, South Africa will be lost. I plead with our youth to think carefully about the fiery rhetoric being spewed by demagogues. Is it really okay to deny anyone their rights? Is it true, as Machiavelli said, that the end justifies the means?
I have never believed that. It is why I refused to take up the armed struggle, because bloodshed and the loss of life was too high a price to pay for political freedom. One could argue that there is no price too high for political freedom. But, believe me, once you have paid a price that was in fact too high, you will know it. It is possible to destroy something priceless, to gain what is priceless, but the loss will have tragic consequences.
Anyone who understands history will understand why students at tertiary institutions are flocking to parties that promote socialism. In a climate of joblessness and economic distress, people are desperate for hope. Socialist policies, no matter how unworkable and dangerous, feed the hope that a solution can magically appear.
But, throughout history, nations have been hurt by this false hope. When I was Minister of Home Affairs, a group of Russian students visited South Africa and we talked at length about politics and economics. They wanted nothing to do with communism and socialism, because it had destroyed their country. The USSR collapsed under these unworkable polices. Venezuela is another example.
This is an absolutely wrong direction for South Africa’s economy.
I grew up in the ANC and, like all our comrades, I was enamoured with socialism as a young man. I was excited by the prospect of speaking to President Julius Nyerere who was the father of African Socialism, or Ujamaa. He was something of a guru to us all. I had visited him in Tanzania to thank him for giving sanctuary to all our political exiles, and now I was visiting him again to hear his wisdom on socialism.
But I discovered that he had dramatically changed his mind. Experience had shown him the real-life consequences of socialism. He gave me a copy of his book, “Ten Years After Arusha” and warned me against following this same path in South Africa.
Years later, President Nyerere paid a state visit to our democratic country, and he asked to see me in my office in Cape Town. He told me then of an incident at the inauguration of Prime Minister Robert Mugabe in 1980. He said, “I warned the Prime Minister then; ‘don’t do what we did, don’t destroy this jewel you have been given’.”
Tragically, 25 years into democracy, South Africa is still struggling with the ghost of socialism. Some parties are espousing it openly and others are flirting with it. The ruling Party is still beholden to its Tripartite Alliance partners, to the point that it is pursuing land expropriation without compensation, while still believing it can bring in investment. Investors won’t come when there is no policy certainty and no security of investment.
No wonder we have failed to attain that elusive 5% growth. We have not parted company with socialism. The economic crisis is self-inflicted.
There is an often quoted saying that “You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it.” This is absolutely true.
Let me read you an explanation, not from an economist, but from a pastor. The Baptist Pastor Dr Adrian Rogers said this –
“You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my friend, is about the end of any nation.”
Now, we know that South Africans want to work. Our people understand the value and importance of working. The tragedy of unemployment, created by a failing economy, is doubled by the dependency it creates on government. There is no government – not a government of the ANC, nor a government of the EFF, nor even a government of the IFP – that can meet every physical need of every citizen.
There is no shortcut to social and economic justice. It must be structured on democratic ideals, through sound democratic policies and fair democratic implementation. It will take hard work, and a long time. But it can be done.
Let us be the ones to champion this course of action. In this new season of struggle, let the IFP hold high the banner of democracy, building on the strong legacy that belongs to the IFP.
I must sound one final warning. There is danger on the road ahead. We are not in a normal situation.
A recent report on News24 said the following –
“The ANC Youth League in Johannesburg is offering their members military training, gun handling and guerrilla tactics. The EFF, which has vowed to take power, if it comes to a confrontation, ‘through the barrel of a gun’, now boasts a pseudo military wing. Sound like a normal democracy to you?
…Little wonder the budget for VIP security escalates year on year, into the billions of Rand, as SA’s political elite is forced to isolate itself from both the people and its own party members.”
A report on Business Day Live, just last month, said the following –
“The next round of local government elections is two years away, and given that political killings, at least so far, define so much local politics, the scene seems set for a bloodbath. And no one is taking it seriously.”
Violence is becoming a standard feature of our national discourse. Violence against women and children. Violence in politics. Violence against foreign nationals. Violence against the police. Violence in our communities. Violence in schools.
It has to stop. I call on our new leadership to focus political attention on restoring peace and the rule of law. There can be no social justice where violence exists.
I will keep speaking about these things until my last breath. I have served my country for almost seventy years. It is part of who I am. I won’t stop speaking now, and I can never stop serving. Not when there is still suffering around me.
But my time as the President of the IFP is finished. I am handing the baton to a new leader. I will support that leader unconditionally.
When I announced in October 2017 that I would not stand for re-election as President of the Party, I said that I would play any role that my Party requires of me, under the leadership of our new President. I leave it to you as our National Conference to decide what role, if any, you would like me to play.
When Extended National Council asked me to lead our election campaign earlier this year, I accepted that onerous burden, despite knowing what it would demand of me. I worked hand in hand with our premier candidate to ensure that the electorate understood: the IFP’s core values, vision and mission remain unchanged. As we move into a new chapter, the IFP remains strong.
It is now up to you, in this Elective Conference, to choose the leaders who can take us forward with integrity, unity and strength.
On the long journey I have travelled, I am grateful to all my comrades who have walked parts of the journey with me. But above all I am grateful to God Almighty, who guided me through this difficult journey.
Ngiyabonga! Realeboga! Baie Dankie!
I thank you!