For the past three decades, I have been calling on the ANC to heal the open wound between our parties that was inflicted during the liberation struggle, when an unjust campaign of vilification was waged against Inkatha and the strategy of People’s War was turned against us, igniting a vicious cycle of black-on-black violence.
Tragically, however, whenever progress has been made towards reconciliation, it has been torpedoed by the leadership of the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal. The KZN ANC prevented Madiba from fulfilling his signed commitment to hold joint rallies. They scuppered President Mbeki’s offer of the Deputy Presidency. They made defamatory claims about me, and hurled insults again and again.
Thus, despite decades of efforts from the national leadership of both parties, reconciliation between the IFP and the ANC has never been achieved. The wound remains in the psyche of our people.
I was therefore pleasantly surprised on my birthday last year when the newly elected leadership of the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal issued a congratulatory statement, challenging leaders in society from all corners of the Province to “follow in the footsteps of Shenge”. It was such an unusual stance from the KZN ANC that I publicly expressed my gratitude and my hope that the wound between our parties could finally be addressed.
But my hope was short-lived. Just days later, the ANC’s KZN Provincial Secretary, Mr Bheki Mtolo, addressed the media and claimed that I wished “to reunite with the ANC”; and so the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal had “made the decision” to “assign” people to “have a dialogue” with me.
This was mischievous in the extreme, as I have never suggested either my or the IFP’s reuniting with the ANC. Talk of reconciliation has always centred around normalising relations between our parties so that we can relate to one another as political opponents, rather than enemies. This is necessary because of the terrible loss of life among our members before democracy.
Such talks are so serious that they are presently being conducted between President Ramaphosa and I, personally. Our last meeting was held at the President’s home in Durban shortly before the Covid-19 pandemic shut down the country. I subsequently sent the President books and other materials detailing the reasons for the rift between our parties, and the President committed to get back to me.
We have, unfortunately, not met again since then to resume talks on reconciliation, but the door remains open and those talks remain on the table between the President and I. From time to time, the President contacts me directly to enquire about my health, for which I am grateful. However, we have not discussed resuming reconciliation talks.
I am thus bewildered by a press alert issued by the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal today inviting the media to a press briefing tomorrow in which the KZN ANC intends to provide their “Reaction to an announcement by President Cyril Ramaphosa on wishes of Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi”.
I am not aware of any announcement by the President about me, nor have I conveyed any request or wishes to the President. The President and I in fact spoke on Sunday evening, but nothing was said about his making an announcement about me.
Whatever the ANC in KZN wishes to announce to the media, it has not been discussed it with me.
In light of all this, it is quite reasonable to suspect that the ANC in KZN is once again trying to torpedo any reconciliation between our parties, by once again making false claims about me.
It is deeply troubling, considering the ugly and intractable tensions that exist between the IFP and the ANC in KZN, that this same KZN ANC is trying to muddy the waters of reconciliation again.