PRINCE MANGOSUTHU BUTHELEZI MP
PRESIDENT OF THE INKATHA FREEDOM PARTY
Durban: 4 February 2018
Whenever I welcome new members to the IFP, I thank them for taking the good decision to make this their political home. Today, I am pleased to express my thanks to you, for I know that this is a significant decision.
Committing to a political party is not something one does on a whim. I know that you have given it a great deal of thought. You have weighed the options and considered the policies of all parties. You have looked at the legacy behind leaders, and chosen to align yourself with people who think the way you do about our country and its future.
You are already political activists. Each one of you has made a conscious decision to contribute to the strength of our nation. You care about your communities, and you want to make a difference. You are exactly the kind of people the IFP welcomes, for we know that you can hit the ground running. You are ready to play your part in the story of South Africa. You simply needed to find the right home from which to do it.
Let me assure you, today, you have found your home. I can say this with certainty because I know that you and I come from the same stable. The IFP has its roots in Africa’s oldest liberation movement, the ANC. Inkatha was structured on the ideals of the founding fathers of the ANC, foremost among whom was my own uncle, Dr Pixley ka Isaka Seme.
More than four decades ago, the ANC and other political parties were banned. Many of our struggle leaders were in exile, and many others were in prison. There was no longer a centre of political mobilisation within South Africa to ensure that our struggle for liberation could continue in a cohesive manner. I was deeply concerned about this, and I discussed it with President Kenneth Kaunda when I visited him to thank him for giving sanctuary to our exiles.
President Kaunda advised me to form a membership-based organisation around which we could mobilise the struggle again, upon South African soil. When I returned, I sought the advice of Mr Oliver Tambo as he was my leader, for we had been working together closely for years. Mr Tambo agreed that this was the best way forward. Thus in 1975 I founded Inkatha yeNkululeko yeSizwe – The National Cultural Liberation Movement. We structured Inkatha as a national cultural organisation, but we took the colours of the ANC, we adopted the same policies, and we laid at the heart of Inkatha the very ideals of the ANC’s founding fathers, including the principles of inclusivity, non-violent resistance, and unity. I emphasized the cultural aspect of the organisation, advised to do so by Bishop Alphaeus Zulu, one of my mentors. I emphasized that it was structured on the ideals of the ANC as propounded by the Founding Fathers in 1912.
Inkatha never deviated from these principles. Ironically, though, it was our commitment to these principles that caused the rift between Inkatha and the ANC’s mission-in-exile, because the mission-in-exile moved away from its founding principles, choosing instead to wage an armed struggle. In 1977 I was summoned to Pretoria by the then Minister of Police and Justice, Mr Jimmy Kruger who ordered me to confine membership of Inkatha to Zulus only, and I refused to do so.
Inkatha rejected violence as a tool of political liberation. We also rejected the call for economic sanctions against South Africa and international disinvestment.
I didn’t take these decisions unilaterally. Right from the start Inkatha valued democracy. I took every issue and every debate to the people and sought their instructions. When the ANC’s mission-in-exile began calling for economic sanctions, I addressed our people and asked for their advice. Overwhelmingly our people rejected this idea, for they said, “We will be the first to starve.” The poorest of the poor were the worst affected by economic sanctions. Inkatha could not agree to this.
Years later, I spoke to our present President and former President of the ANC His Excellency Mr Jacob Zuma about sanctions, when the ANC was refusing to support sanctions against Zimbabwe. I asked him why they rejected economic sanctions for our neighbours, and he explained that if sanctions were imposed, the poorest would suffer. I then reminded him that this is exactly the reason that I had been vilified by the ANC’s mission-in-exile all those years ago. I was saying then what today is common knowledge.
I am afraid that history has proven me right time and time again. The problem with this is that it proves the ANC wrong. They began to walk a road that was not ideal, allowing compromise and abandoning principles. This allowed a kind of cancer to enter the ANC, eating away at its foundations. I struggle today to recognise the ANC of the past when I look at some of the current leaders.
I worked with the great leaders of our liberation movement, with Dr Seme, Inkosi Albert Luthuli, Mr Tambo, Mandela and others. I will never apologise for being a product of Inkosi Luthuli’s mentoring, or from learning politics from my uncle, Dr Seme. I cannot apologise for acting on Inkosi Albert Luthuli’s and Mr Tambo’s instruction and leading KwaZulu, so that we could undermine apartheid from within. I cannot apologise for my enduring friendship with Mandela, even in the most difficult years of violence.
I come from the ANC Youth League. I come from the same political place as you do. But, just like you, when I saw that it was changing and that things were not being done in the best interests of my country, I chose my country. I chose to stick to principles, to maintain my integrity, and to keep serving my people. I chose to create a political legacy of which I would never have to be ashamed.
Today, I know that you have done the same. You have chosen wisely. You have chosen your country. Thank you for making the IFP your home. I look forward to seeing the kind of leadership you bring as you begin serving our nation from within the IFP structures.
Together, we will protect South Africa. We will strengthen our nation, and we will see our people prosper. Ours will be the legacy our children remember, with gratitude and pride.
I thank you.