Message of Support
Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP
President of the Inkatha Freedom Party
Inkosi of the Buthelezi Clan and
Traditional Prime Minister to the Zulu Monarch and Nation
Delivered on His Behalf by
Inkosi Elphus Mzamo Buthelezi MPL
Deputy President of the Inkatha Freedom Party
Mamone, Moshate: Limpopo Province
His Majesty the King of the Bapedi Nation, Kgosi Mampuru III;
Honourable Ministers present;
the Honourable Premier of Limpopo, Mr Stanley Mathabatha;
Chairperson of the National House of Traditional Leaders, Kgosi Maubane;
the President of Contralesa, Kgosi Thobejane; royalty, officials and Amakhosi present;
When I received an invitation from His Majesty Kgoshi Mampuru III to honour the memory of one of South Africa’s heroes in the wars of resistance, I felt at once privileged and distressed. For although I have attended commemorations of Kgoshi Mampuru II in the past, my schedule of responsibilities prevented me from travelling to Mamone, Moshate today.
My physical absence, however, does not diminish the significance I attach to this commemoration. For more than half a century I have encouraged my nation to remember the past, to mark significant moments in the lives of our ancestors and to honour the memory of those who fought for freedom long before we took up that fight. I believe strongly in celebrating our heroes. In the Bapedi nation and the broader nation of South Africa, Kgoshi Mampuru II is certainly a hero.
Also Kgosi Sekhukhuni is such a hero with whom my maternal great grandfather King Cetshwayo got in touch with during the resistance they put up to colonisation.
I therefore asked Inkosi Mzamo Buthelezi, the Deputy President of my Party, to bring my message of support to this important commemoration.
As I mentioned last year when we honoured Kgoshi Mampuru II, I feel empathy for the Bapedi nation and for His Majesty the King, for we share a similar story of resistance and injustice. My paternal grandfather, Inkosi Mkhandumba Buthelezi, was executed on the 22nd of February 1911 in the Pietermaritzburg goal, 28 years after Kgoshi Mampuru II was so brutally hanged in Pretoria.
Both were charged with rebellion and murder. In the case of Kgoshi Mampuru II, it was a matter of defence against his half-brother’s determined attempts to usurp the throne. In the case of my grandfather, a question mark remains, for no body was ever produced as evidence of a murder.
In both cases, there appears to have been rivalry involved between British and Boer officials which may have accelerated the carrying out of sentence. In the case of Kgoshi Mampuru II, President Kruger gave assurances that sentence would not be carried out until he had discussed the matter with the British Colonial Secretary, Lord Derby. Yet despite these assurances, Kgoshi Mampuru II was hanged. Twenty eight years later, the Minister of Justice, JBM Hertzog, recommended a reprieve for Inkosi Mkhandumba Buthelezi. But the Governor General, Lord Gladstone, followed the recommendation of the Judge President, and Inkosi Mkhandumba was hanged.
The Bapedi Nation and the Zulu Nation share the wound of not knowing where these two heroes are buried. I am gratified that we have honoured Kgoshi Mampuru II on the site where he was executed. We have seen the renaming of Potgieter Street in Pretoria, of Jane Furse Township Development and of Pretoria Central Prison, all to honour the memory of Kgoshi Mampuru II. This year we hope to see his statue completed and erected.
It will be satisfying to know that future generations will see Kgoshi Mampuru II clad in leopard skin from head to toe, carrying an assegai and a shield. Through this statue, his full dignity will surely be restored.
No longer will we remember the naked prisoner, condemned to death. No longer will we think of the 200 spectators who paid to witness the despicable execution of a king. No longer will we remember the rope inexplicably breaking, or the repulsive scene that followed. Instead, we will look upon Kgoshi Mampuru II as he was in the finest moments of his life; defiant, strong and proud.
I am grateful for the efforts being made by so many to restore the dignity of our long-oppressed people in South Africa. It is right that we show respect for the leaders of our past, and for the leaders who continue their lineage. Much of my long career has been dedicated to restoring the dignity, role, powers and functions of the institution of traditional leadership within a democratic South Africa.
The colonial and apartheid governments failed to recognise this long-established social structure. They subverted it, as was the case when the Zulu kingdom was divided into 13 artificial kinglets at the end of the Anglo-Zulu War. Successive regimes felt entitled to accept traditional leaders or deny their authority, and extended or withheld recognition based on pliability and submission. The institution of traditional leadership was considered inferior to imposed governance structures; something to be tolerated, but not empowered; something to be used for political gain.
When we achieved democracy in 1994, we did so with the full expectation that the institution of traditional leadership would finally be recognised and restored to authority. And indeed the Constitution we hammered out at the World Trade Centre in Kempton Park did include recognition of the institution of traditional leadership. But incongruent with this is the fact that, twenty-one years into democracy, the role, powers and functions of traditional leaders have not yet been defined in a single piece of legislation.
Instead, legislation has provided that traditional leaders must cooperate with Government, but says nothing about how. Legislation says Government “may assist” traditional leadership structures, but there is no obligation or responsibility and structures remain unfinanced by Government, even though they remain answerable to Government.
I have often lamented how difficult it is for the various structures of traditional leaders to assist in governance when they are allocated no budget to do so. Under the KwaZulu Natal Traditional Leadership Act of 2005, the former Mayor of Zululand built a conference centre for Amakhosi of Zululand, as she was entitled, but not obligated, to do. Yet ever since my time as Chairperson of the District House of Traditional Leaders in Zululand, nothing has come of our plea to the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs to supply offices for the District House.
Indeed, for years the Department did not even supply a budget for meetings and my wife would take care of refreshments. I raised this in the presence of the Minister, who expressed shock. But nothing has changed.
In terms of Section 81 of the Municipal Structures Act, 20% of traditional leaders may attend meetings of municipal council. But none of them may vote. The Coalition of Traditional Leaders rejected this provision. The National House of Traditional Leaders rejected it. And I stood up, together with my deputy, the late Inkosi Mzimela, to remind Government that we rejected it.
It is insulting, in a democracy, to have any legislation that bars traditional leaders from exercising their authority and participating in the governance of our people. It is insulting to deny us a voice, but even more so to deny us a vote. It is bewildering to me that traditional leaders would let government get away with this kind of treatment of our institution. The role, functions and powers of traditional leaders have been side-lined by yet another South African government. All is not yet set right.
The history of our struggle for honest respect for the institution of traditional leadership is long and detailed. It is filled with broken promises and attempts to use traditional leaders as tools to secure political power.
There is still much contention when it comes to traditional leadership, and even when it comes to recognising the right to the throne of heirs and kings. There is still much to be set right.
But when we hold commemorations like this, which are honoured by government officials as much as by members of the royal house and individuals within the Bapedi nation, we feel there is hope. There is hope that the institution of traditional leadership will be fully restored at some point in the future, because recognising the role of kings and Amakhosi in shaping our past is a first step towards recognising their role in our future.
I therefore thank His Majesty Kgoshi Mampuru III for bringing us together in this commemoration. It shows wisdom and leadership, and it gives us hope.
IFP Media, Parliament