Mangosuthu Buthelezi’s Online Letter
Dear friends and fellow South Africans,
There is that moment in every good court drama when the verdict is read and the room erupts with raw emotion. The victors hug and congratulate each other, vindicated by the rule of law, while the other side rallies its game face for the reporters outside.
By the grace of God, Monday’s judgment on the 12 November 2010 court case brought against the IFP by its National Chairperson saw the IFP on the victors’ side. The Honourable Judge Chiman Patel dismissed the application with costs, effectively vindicating the IFP’s decisions to postpone Annual General Conference, supporting the legitimacy of its structures and leadership and giving the green light for the Party to hold the long-awaited disciplinary hearing of Mrs VZ kaMagwaza-Msibi.
It has been a long and arduous road, but I thank God we can now put this ugly debacle behind us and begin reunifying the Party. In the aftermath of the judgment, Mrs Magwaza-Msibi and her supporters – and all those who have chosen to sit on the fence – will no doubt be making some critical decisions. The IFP may lose some members, but the wheat will finally be sifted from the chaff and, albeit a painful process, this is necessary for the sake of unity.
The strength of the IFP has always come from the fact that we are by nature democratic. Our opponents often attack us on this very point suggesting that the IFP is autocratic simply because I have been President since I founded Inkatha in 1975. But I have retained this position based on the collective will of the card-carrying members of the IFP. Not by my own decision or even according to my own desires, for I have been ready to retire twice.
When I founded Inkatha, I announced at one of its very first Council meetings that I intended to always seek and respect the collegial wisdom of the people. This set us apart from other liberation organizations and political parties. I believe, for instance, that the ANC’s mission in exile failed to properly gauge the concerns and desires of the oppressed majority who lived on the coal face of apartheid’s cruelty. Few black South Africans wanted an armed struggle; it was foisted on us and has become part of our somehow romanticized history.
Throughout my long political career, I have consistently pursued the will and interests of the people. It has brought me heartache and vilification.
Some say it has undermined the high positions I could have attained. It has certainly been a difficult and painful road of service, marked by betrayals and treachery. But if one is truly a servant of the people, one must listen to what the people are saying; not just the ones who like you.
I have learned to surround myself with many advisers, so that I not only hear what is easy and pleasing, but also what is unpleasant and challenging.
Often I hear lies. But I often hear the truth because it is spoken in many ways, with many motives, from many mouths. When you listen to only your supporters, you are likely to make bad decisions.
I was concerned to hear Mrs Magwaza-Msibi’s statements on Wednesday as she cancelled her media briefing, that she could not make any decisions about the future until she had spoken to her supporters. The Daily News quotes her as saying, "I am a person who believes in consulting with my supporters first before taking a decision."
It is worrying that her supporters are people who burn the IFP’s flag and threaten to keep people away from the polls in the Local Government Elections. They are people who voluntarily bound themselves to a political party and its constitution, and then trampled that constitution and ignited divisions. These are not the kind of advisers who are likely to come up with a plan that is in the best interests of our Party, our people or our country.
Is another breakaway party in the interests of democracy? Is it even viable so close to Local Government Elections? Analysts have agreed that Mrs Magwaza-Msibi is likely to either leave the IFP and start her own party, or pack her bags and run to the ANC. She has already warned the public that she will not allow her career to end here. There is no longer a doubt that she is ambitious, as are the supporters who are advising her.
We know that few "Friends" have betrayed the Party for ideological reasons.
A lot of money has changed hands. Positions have been promised. Tenders have been given. For those who are riding her coat tails, much rides on the success of VZ. I am told that Monday’s judgment has created a good deal of fear and tension among the "Friends of VZ".
It was well publicized that the IFP received back into the fold several members who originally contracted the "Friends of VZ" virus, but later recovered their senses. One analyst has advised Mrs Magwaza-Msibi to apologise, mend her ways and seek the IFP’s forgiveness. Based on many precedents, I am expected to be magnanimous in absolution. But senior leaders have attempted reconciliation with Mrs Magwaza-Msibi several times and she has rejected it.
Now people question why I gave her the benefit of the doubt for such a long time. It is in my nature to believe the best and hope for the best. Often this brings out the best in the people around me. But the human heart is unsearchable and I have been betrayed by many before. Nevertheless I listen, I keep the channels of communication open and I let people say what they need to say. For in this way I hear the truth hidden within the lies.
Right now the future is open to speculation. But there is at least one aspect we need not wonder about. On Wednesday Mrs Magwaza-Msibi told the media she was not aware of any disciplinary hearing and would await formal notification from the Party. Notification has been sent and our National Chairperson is expected to appear before the IFP’s National Council on the 29th of January 2011. This is an internal party process based on the Party’s Constitution, to afford our National Chairperson a fair hearing. We have been determined from the start to give her an opportunity to state her case.
Yours in the service of the nation,
Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP