Mangosuthu Buthelezi’s Weekly Newsletter to the Nation
My dear friends and fellow South Africans,
Following the incidents in Nongoma last weekend, many accusations, threats and distortions have been bandied about. One journalist, Mr S’thembiso Msomi who writes for The Daily Times, accuses me of double speak in his article this Wednesday. In the face of a lifetime of evidence, he questions the sincerity of my commitment to non-violence.
Surely no one can accuse me of saying one thing and doing another. I believe the Nongoma incidents last Sunday are a matter for great concern to all of us in South Africa. What happened in Nongoma is not the policy of the IFP.
It is well-known that I have paid a great price, and still do, for having rejected the "armed struggle" on which Mr Tambo and I could not agree. I was extremely distressed when the "armed struggle" turned into a Black-on-Black low intensity civil war – which resulted in the death of more than 20 000 members of the IFP, the ANC and others – merely because I had not supported the "armed struggle".
I could not support killing members of the White minority, the majority of whom supported the Apartheid Regime, in order to bring about a democratic order in our country. The internecine fratricidal low intensity war between us as Black South Africans gained its own momentum. There were attacks and counter-attacks and pre-emptive attacks once this civil war started heating up.
In not one single meeting of the Central Committee was a decision taken that members of the ANC were to be killed by members of Inkatha. Members of Inkatha got caught up in the conflicts and participated in the tragic slaughter un-orchestrated by myself. In spite of what the TRC said about me, I challenged it and anyone else to prove that I ever authorised, condoned or approved any human rights violation. The challenge still stands.
Let me set the record straight again about what happened in Nongoma on the 1st of February. The IFP had scheduled a door-to-door campaign before we knew that the ANC intended holding a rally in Nongoma. I was supposed to address the IFP meeting after some door-to-door canvassing by our members.
When I arrived in Nongoma, I saw a lot of parked vehicles, including buses. I also saw MEC Mr Bheki Cele giving orders to members of the Police in a most unbelievable manner. I was informed that he had instructed members of the Police to use tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse members of the IFP who, I was told, had allegedly been blocking buses that were ferrying members of the ANC to a rally which the ANC leadership was to address that day. All this had happened before I arrived on the scene.
I then proceeded to Mona Sale Yards where the IFP rally was supposed to take place. When I arrived, a group of our members were chanting war cries and were very emotional. When I heard them shouting obscenities similar to those which ANC members were shouting about President Mbeki, I immediately got out of the car and reprimanded them; just as I had done when members of the ANC chanted similar obscenities about President Mbeki in the presence of the top brass of the ANC leadership. None of those leaders did anything to stop their members.
In the midst of the chanting I heard the repeated reference to ‘Shell House’.
S’thembiso accuses me in his article of using the 1994 Shell House killings to justify what members of my Party did that day. He wrote: "You seem to justify your supporters’ behaviour by implying that they acted in that deplorable fashion out of anger at the ANC over the 1993 ‘Shell House massacre’ in which scores of IFP supporters were mowed down by an ANC bodyguard during a march to the liberation movement’s head office."
I never used that history to justify whatever happened in Nongoma last Sunday.
At a press conference the following day, I merely described what happened at Mona. I was doing no more than stating the facts. It is cheap journalism on the part of Mr S’thembiso Msomi to distort what I said and falsely accuse me of having used this as justification for the misdemeanours of members of the IFP.
In fact, the people who marched in 1994 did so as "Zulus" in connection with the issue of the future of the Zulu Monarchy. It is also a fact that many who marched came from districts such as Nongoma, Mahlabathini, Nkandla and others.
Let me make it clear: what happened in Nongoma could not be justified by quoting the 1994 Shell House massacre.
Where has investigative journalism gone? Mr Msomi’s article is extremely shallow and fails to tell readers exactly what is going on in KwaZulu Natal. There are tensions between the ANC and the IFP in KwaZulu Natal. In the last few months a poster bearing my photograph was petrol-bombed in the Ugu district. A few months ago our IFP Chairperson of Jacob’s Hostel in Durban, Bhekisisa Mthethwa, was murdered.
Up to now, no one has been arrested for that murder. And yet people who are alleged to have murdered Inkosi Mbungeleni Zondi on the 22nd of January 2009 have already been arrested – for which I admire the SAPS of our Province.
Another young leader of the ANC was recently murdered, again in the Hibiscus Municipal district. A poster bearing the photograph of the President of the ANC, Mr Zuma, was defaced at Umlazi recently. Later I was told obscenities were scribbled on it. There is a case in the Matabatuba Criminal Court after our leader of the Youth Brigade, Mr Shadrack Dube, was assassinated recently. I am informed that a member of the ANC who is appearing in connection with this case has already confessed to the murder to the SAPS.
There are many other instances I can quote which indicate that not everything is rosy between the ANC and the IFP in the province of KwaZulu Natal. The IFP Councillor who is accused of having shot at an ANC office worker has already appeared in Court. The case is proceeding. I have learnt through the media that the people who are alleged to have shot at a Member of Parliament and his niece have already been arrested. All these matters are before the Courts.
I have already condemned all that happened in Nongoma on the 1st of February. In fact I have even received a letter from the Chairperson of the IEC in which she commends my actions in condemning these incidents.
The cases are still in the courts of members of the IFP who are alleged to have violated the human rights of members of the ANC. It is therefore without any justification whatsoever that Mr S’thembiso Msomi addresses me in his article saying: "So, when IFP supporters tried to disrupt an ANC gathering in Nongoma, in northern KwaZulu-Natal, I was confident that you would come down hard on those who had stoned buses and injured a number of their countrymen in your name…"
I have already explained that I was merely told about the alleged stoning of buses et cetera ex post facto. I ask the question why did 500 Policemen who were there armed to the teeth not arrest them? I do not even know who these IFP members were. The Police and the MEC were on the spot when all these alleged criminal acts took place. But I am yet to hear from the MEC and the 500 Policemen the names of those responsible.
It is an indication of something I am used to from advocacy journalism such as that of Mr S’thembiso Msomi, to state that whatever happened in Nongoma was done in my name.
He states that I missed the opportunity; which opportunity? What reason has Mr Msomi to write: "In a statement issued in your name by the IFP after Sunday’s events, you make no mention of plans to act against those of your members who engaged in violence and intimidation." What reason has Mr Msomi to draw the conclusion that whoever is guilty of these alleged misdemeanours will not be taken to the Disciplinary Committee of the IFP? Surely it is elementary that the law must first take its course.
To add insult to injury, Mr S’thembiso Msomi states: "But, Shenge, if we were to allow such bottled- up anger at the loss of loved ones to prevent those parties we’re angry at from campaigning in certain areas, the IFP would be welcome in very few areas in Gauteng and parts of KwaZulu-Natal."
Mr Msomi must be reminded that hundreds of people died in Gauteng in conflicts between the ANC and the IFP in the eighties and nineties. That is why President Mbeki in his capacity as President of the ANC at the time, and myself in my capacity as leader of the IFP went to Thokoza in October 1999. Together we unveiled a monument inscribed with the names of all those members of the ANC and the IFP who died in that conflict. It was a deeply emotional moment for both of us.
Mr Msomi needs to be reminded that it takes two to tango before he writes such veiled threats about me campaigning in certain areas.
The meeting I addressed at Mona was covered by both print and electronic media.
Two television crews were present. And yet on Monday when Mr Vuyo Mbuli was reporting on these incidents on Morning Live he allowed Mr Zuma to speak but did not show my comment saying the same things that Mr Zuma was saying; that is, condemning the actions of those who are alleged to have done all these wrong things.
Again it shows the extent to which the odds are stacked against me in both the electronic and print media. My side of the story is seldom given any opportunity by the SABC.
How can anyone question my commitment to non-violence? I could not be persuaded to be part of unleashing violence even against the White minority regime, how much more against my own Black people. We have nothing to gain from unleashing violence against anyone.
Writing in the vein in which Mr Msomi wrote is extremely provocative and it is absolutely unconstructive. We need more level-headed journalism rather than cheap pot-shots at political leaders, whoever they may be.
Yours in the service of our nation,
Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP
President: Inkatha Freedom Party
Liezl van der Merwe, 083 611 7470