PRESS STATEMENT BY
PRINCE MANGOSUTHU BUTHELEZI MP
PRESIDENT OF THE INKATHA FREEDOM PARTY
The unfolding events in Zimbabwe are deeply concerning, not only for our neighbours but for the whole of the Southern African Development Community, and certainly for South Africa.
It is regrettable that things have reached this point. But whether one approves of what is happening or not, it is clear that this was somehow inevitable as something had to give.
We are grateful that up until now the military takeover has not involved violence or bloodshed, and we pray that the people of Zimbabwe will emerge from this difficult chapter without any loss of life.
The world and the countries of SADC will rightly be looking to South Africa to act, for our President holds the position of Chairperson of SADC.
President Mandela held this same position in September 1998 when a military coup was attempted in Lesotho. In response to the growing number of coups in Africa, SADC took a decision not to recognise any military juntas. Thus the Chairperson of SADC was obliged to act on that decision.
This happened to be during one of the instances in which President Mandela appointed me as Acting President in his absence. The responsibility thus fell to me to send a SADC force into Lesotho.
I understand the burden that rests on our President’s shoulders now, for I have long been attacked for “invading” Lesotho. But as the Chairperson of SADC, the President must act in the interests of all the people of Zimbabwe.
We would hope that Zimbabwe finds a speedy resolution to the present impasse. But we cannot shirk our own heavy responsibility to the people of Zimbabwe.