MESSAGE OF SUPPORT
PRINCE MANGOSUTHU BUTHELEZI MP
PRESIDENT OF THE INKATHA FREEDOM PARTY
PATRON OF THE SIVANANDA WORLD PEACE FOUNDATION AND
TRADITIONAL PRIME MINISTER TO THE ZULU MONARCH AND NATION
His Majesty the King of the Zulu Nation, King Goodwill Zwelithini ka Bhekuzulu;
Programme Directors, Mr Mahendra Raghunath and Mrs Lucy Sigaben;
Convention convenor and International Coordinator for GOPIO Africa, Mr Ishwar Ramlutchman;
Chairman of GOPIO International, Dr Thomas Abraham;
Executive Vice President of GOPIO International, Australia, Mr Noel Lal;
The Honourable Premier of KwaZulu Natal, Mr Willies Mchunu;
The Mayor of Durban, Councillor Zandile Gumede;
Acting High Commissioner of India, Dr Sarvesvaran Janakiraman;
Consul General of India, Dr Shashank Vikram;
Mr AV Mohammed of the Jumma Musjid Trust;
Mr Vivian Reddy, CEO of Edison Power Group;
Members of the Zulu Royal Family;
Our esteemed guests from the Indian diaspora who have come from all parts of the world; and friends in the field of business.
I am honoured to support the Global Organisation of People of Indian Origin, and to join you as you celebrate outstanding achievements at this evening’s dinner. I was not expecting to be one of the award recipients! But I am honoured to receive the International Community Service Award. Thank you very much.
The 2017 International Business Convention takes place at a significant moment in South Africa, and indeed in the world. We stand on the threshold of change across the globe, with growing fears of conflict and widespread economic distress. In times such as these, we must have open dialogue, particularly among those who are able to bring stability and hope.
In my profession, we like to believe that it is politicians who shape the world. But simple economics tells us that the real influence lies with those who generate wealth, develop resources, create employment and invest. The real power to shape our world lies in the hands of people like you: leaders in business and entrepreneurs.
I therefore welcome your visit to South Africa, knowing that many of you have investments here and are tied to South Africa through business interests that span generations.
For 157 years, our country has benefitted from the presence and contribution of people of Indian origin. The Indian community in South Africa is the largest anywhere in the world outside of India. Its history is intertwined with the history of our nation, so that there is one story of struggle, of liberation and democracy.
It is thus not strange that I, as a Zulu, should speak during the gala dinner of a GOPIO Business Convention. I have spent a lifetime serving my nation, and I have found partnerships on this journey with people of many different extractions. But some of the greatest partnerships, which have built and served South Africa, have been with Indian organisations, institutions and individuals. There is, within the DNA of Indian people, a desire to uplift and build.
From the earliest days of our struggle for liberation, Indian South Africans poured out their lives in pursuit of freedom. Despite suffering the same impediments as my own people, the Indian community made its contribution to every aspect of our country. They pulled themselves up by their bootstraps, started businesses, and created employment for their own people as well as ours. Indians have set a wonderful example for all of us of courage, industriousness and resilience.
I remember how my own generation of freedom fighters was inspired by the teachings of the Mahatma Gandhi, who was assassinated just as I entered university. His principles of Satyagraha, soul force and passive resistance, found fertile ground in our fresh and enthusiastic young minds. They confirmed the founding principles of Africa’s oldest liberation movement, which was founded in 1912 by my uncle, Dr Pixley ka Isaka seme.
Inspired by the Mahatma’s teachings, and deeply committed to non-violence, I entered leadership positions determined to raise my people out of poverty, ignorance and oppression, without compromising my beliefs. With this approach, I found friendships with exceptional individuals, like Professor Fatima Meer and her husband Dr Ismail Meer, and with political giants like Dr Monty Naicker, Dr Yusuf Dadoo, Mr Debhi Singh, Mr Yellan Chinsamy, Dr Goonam and the Poovalingam family.
We were, of course, deeply involved in politics. But many of us understood that political liberation is only one aspect of freedom. We longed to see all South Africans freed from the hardship of under-development and economic distress. With this shared vision, I worked hand in hand with those who pursued education, development and social assistance in our poorest communities. Organisations like the Divine Life Society, the Indian Education Committee and the Lockat Family Trust did tremendous work, building classrooms, teaching skills and uplifting communities.
I worked with these organisations from within the administration of the KwaZulu Government, for I served as Chief Minister of KwaZulu for 19 years before democracy. I took up this position at the request of Inkosi Albert Luthuli and Mr Oliver Tambo, as part of our multi-strategy approach to liberation. The intention was for me to undermine the apartheid system from within; which, thanks God, I was able to do.
When the apartheid regime began balkanising South Africa, I refused to take nominal independence for KwaZulu. In so doing, I protected the citizenship of millions of South Africans, and derailed the grand scheme of apartheid. Their plan in giving independence to the so-called homelands was to create a sort of moral legitimacy, where they could say to the outside world, “Look, we are not oppressing anyone.”
To some, independence from an apartheid South Africa was enticing. But I could not deprive my people of their country. We were working for a liberated South Africa in which we all could claim a stake. Why should we have to surrender the land of our birth and the purpose of our struggle? I maintained my fight against apartheid on the principles of non-violence, passive resistance and negotiation. And when democracy finally dawned, we stepped into freedom as fully enfranchised citizens.
I relate this history because I believe it holds parallels for our present struggle. The struggle we face now is for economic development and equality. For some, it may be tempting to give up social cohesion for the sake of pursuing these goals. But why should we have to surrender our unity and our work of nation-building? I believe we can achieve economic development and equality together. Indeed, if anyone is excluded or left behind, we will have failed our mission entirely.
Social cohesion must be at the core of all we do. In a multi-cultural society, there will, unfortunately, always be troublemakers who seek to create divisions. This is the case throughout the world. In South Africa, these troublemakers emerge in every race group. A conscious effort must be made to maintain social cohesion and pursue reconciliation. I admire those at the forefront of this cause; people like Mr Ishwar Ramlutchman and Mr Vivian Reddy. They are working in the best interests of all our people.
Like them, I still seek a future in which we all enjoy freedom, as fully enfranchised and fully empowered citizens. I know that much depends on our ability to breathe life into an ailing economy. It is imperative that we focus on economic growth and development, rather than mere redistribution. To do that, we need partnerships with the right people; people who understand the world of business and the principles of economics.
For this reason, dialogues such as those that were held today are immensely valuable. I thank you for participating in this Convention, not only for the purpose of expanding business opportunities, but for the investment you have made in the conversation around growth, development and social assistance.
This third aspect, of social assistance, is inextricably linked to the conversation about business. In today’s world, business is no longer just about making money for the people at the top. It’s about changing the lives of everyone who come in contact with it. I am grateful for this shift towards moral responsibility in business. I know that it makes sense, particularly to the people in this room, because, as I said, it is somehow within the DNA of Indian people to want to uplift those around them.
I look forward to seeing greater development, increased investment and enhanced partnerships emerging from this Convention. I hope that young entrepreneurs have been inspired to take the next step. The future need not be uncertain. It can, in fact, be what we make of it.
I thank you.