via email [email protected]
Dear Professor Piper,
I have spent some time considering how I might best broach the issue of inaccuracies in your chapter titled “Inkatha Freedom Party: The elephants’ graveyard” in the book “Election 2014: The Campaigns, Results and Future Prospects”.
Naturally there will be elements with which I disagree from a political perspective, not least the writing of the IFP’s obituary when we remain the fourth largest political party in South Africa, with 11 Members of Parliament. However, it is with objective matters of fact that I take issue, for when these are incorrect they influence the political perspectives of anyone who reads them.
Considering your influential position as a university professor, shaping the political convictions of a young generation, I felt it important that I address this issue with you directly.
I note that you have written extensively on Inkatha in the past, which suggests that you have undertaken a considerable amount of research. I wonder, though, how much of what you have read is itself accurate, for the overt campaign of vilification against Inkatha and against me produced many lies and misconceptions, much of which became accepted as fact.
You have clearly embraced the image of the IFP as stifling, authoritarian and repressive, which you premise on the fact of several “purges”, “defections”, “dismissals” and “expulsions”, notably that of Mrs VZ kaMagwaza-Msibi, Mr Barney Dladla, Professor Sibusiso Bhengu, Dr Frank Mdlalose, Mr Walter Felgate and Dr Gavin Woods.
Defections are a poor criterion for determining the democratic nature of a party, for they happen in all parties. Many prominent leaders have defected from the ANC over the years, including Dr Sipo Mzimela. Before 1994, the PAC broke away from the ANC, and the eight that defected from the ANC led by Ambrose Makiwane stated as one of their reasons their objection to Mr Tambo’s closeness to me.
More recently, after Polokwane, quite a large number of leaders and members of the ANC defected and formed the Congress of the People. Defectors included even members of the NEC of the ANC such as former Minister Lekota and Mr Smuts Ngonyama.
As for purges, expulsions and dismissals, the facts speak for themselves.
Mrs kaMagwaza-Msibi was never “dismissed” from the IFP, nor did she “challenge unsuccessfully for IFP leadership”, nor did she “leave” because of our “failure… to respond to the heavy losses of 2009”.
While serving as our National Chairperson, Mrs kaMagwaza-Msibi began colluding with the ANC. She was invited to clear her name in a Disciplinary Committee, but instead she took us to the High Court, lost the case, and announced the formation of the NFP. She had registered the NFP while still serving as our National Chairperson. It was through the media that we learned of her exit from the IFP.
On 15 February 2011, I gave chapter and verse in Parliament of how the ANC lured her with money in order to carry out their agenda of destroying the IFP. This is recorded in Hansard. Neither Mr Zuma nor Mrs kaMagwaza-Msibi denied anything in my report.
But perhaps I need not expand, now that Mrs kaMagwaza is a Deputy Minister in the ANC Government. The NFP’s declaration that this Government “cannot be trusted” was simply campaign talk. The ANC and NFP have been in a coalition, running 19 municipalities in KwaZulu Natal since 2011.
Mr Barney Dladla was never “expelled” from the Party “for sympathising with the Durban dockworkers’ strike”. Mr Dladla was my Executive Councillor for Interior and dealt with issues of workers on my and the Executive Council’s instructions. At the time, Nongoma was the seat of government, from which we all operated. Without consulting me or the Executive Council, Mr Dladla decided not to operate from Nongoma and took furniture from his Nongoma office to Estcourt, where he came from.
A special session of the Legislature was called to discuss this issue. The matter was debated late into the night, when the Legislature unanimously decided to expel Mr Dladla from the Legislature.
This had nothing to do with Mr Dladla’s so-called sympathy with the Durban dockworkers. My interest in the plight of workers was not kindled by Mr Dladla. I established the Institute for Industrial Workers in Durban with Professor Lawrence Schlemmer and served as its Chancellor. Our involvement as the KwaZulu Government in the 1973 strikes in Durban had nothing to do with Mr Dladla.
Even Mr Marais Viljoen, the then Minister of Labour, attacked me, claiming that I had no right to interfere in the affairs of workers in Durban, which was outside the boundaries of the territory designated as KwaZulu. I responded that when the Government created institutions such as the KwaZulu Government, they made us understand that they were for Zulu people wherever they may be.
Mr Barney Dladla had died long before the largest trade union in the world, the CIO-AFL awarded me the George Meany Human Rights Award jointly with Dr Neil Aggett, a prominent trade unionist who was allegedly assassinated by the Apartheid regime. We were the second recipients of this Award, after Les Walesa of Solidarity in Poland.
Professor Sibusiso Bhengu was never “expelled” “for making pro-ANC statements”. That is so far from the truth, it is laughable. Through my friend, Professor Jacques Freymond in Switzerland, I arranged for Professor Bhengu to attend the University of Geneva. When he completed his course, he returned briefly before deciding to take up a post in Geneva in the World Lutheran Federation. Professor Bhengu is the son of a Lutheran Pastor. It was while he was in Geneva that he decided to join the ANC.
Dr Frank Mdlalose was never expelled from the IFP. He left in a pique when I mentioned in passing that he did not consult with me or the National Council when he agreed with the ANC in KwaZulu Natal that Pietermaritzburg be used as a second seat of government. He was not even taxed about it.
Mr Walter Felgate was also never expelled. He defected to the ANC, angry with me because he claimed I had not made it possible for him to be an MEC in the Provincial Government of KwaZulu Natal. I recommend that you read the pamphlet written by Mr Mike Muendane on Walter Felgate’s role as an ANC mole. It will make good bedtime reading.
Considering that part of defection is the customary expectation that one will slander former leaders, it would be foolhardy to take Mr Felgate at his word when he described me as “authoritarian”, with a character that has “stultifying effects on the party”.
As for Dr Gavin Woods, his alleged desire to infuse “new thinking” into an identity-less party rendered zero success in the new party he joined, which is now defunct.
Considering that none of the so-called “purges”, “dismissals” and “expulsions” actually took place, one would need to find a different peg on which to hang the accusation of the IFP being an authoritarian party which stifles emerging leaders and new ideas, “closing down space for innovation and new constituencies, and rendering the party incapable of adaptation in changing times”.
Indeed the repeated idea that I am “authoritarian” ought to be critically evaluated in the absence of actual evidence.
I would be interested to learn what you mean by the sentence, “The IFP’s internal problems continued as attempts by moderates to explore alternative strategic directions were quashed by Buthelezi and his satraps…” To what “internal problems” do you refer? Who were these “moderates”? What were these “alternative strategic directions”? And how did I quash them? I am entirely in the dark on what you mean here.
Equally so, I’d like to understand what you mean by, “Moving away from Zulu nationalism towards a centre-right multi-racial liberal-democratic ideology ran up against an apparatchik party hierarchy that generated indecision and paralysis in the IFP.” Could you unpack this loaded statement?
My second concern is the inaccurate portrayal of the IFP’s history and identity. Inkatha yeNkululeko yeSizwe was never a “Zulu cultural movement” built on Zulu ethnicity. We founded Inkatha on the ideals of the 1912 founding fathers of the liberation movement, among which was inclusivity. Inkatha was a national cultural liberation organisation among whose leadership were scions of Xhosa and Tswana elites.
There was no mention of the word “Zulu” in my speech when Inkatha became the IFP, because neither Inkatha nor the IFP used ethnicity to mobilise membership. Indeed, in 1977 when Inkatha was just 2 years old, I was summoned to Pretoria by the Minister of Police, Mr Jimmy Kruger. He threatened to take action against me if I did not stop recruiting other Africans other than Zulus. I refused to do so. Our conversation was recorded and is available verbatim.
Subsequently, the Bergstrasse Institute at Frieburg University in Germany undertook countrywide research, the results of which are also available. The Institute concluded that my support was not confined to Zulu-speaking people, and that I was the political personality as far as black South Africans were concerned.
Inkatha was a front for the ANC-in-exile. Even the stalwarts of the ANC, who had been in jail with Mr Mandela joined Inkatha. When they came out of jail, they came and joined Inkatha. Even the widow of the last elected President-General of the ANC, Mama Nokukhanya Luthuli, joined Inkatha. I had delivered the funeral oration at Inkosi Albert Luthuli’s funeral.
It was Inkosi Albert Luthuli and Mr Oliver Tambo who sent a message to me through Mr Cleopas Nsibande, who at one time was an interim leader of the ANC in Gauteng, when it became clear that the Apartheid regime intended to create a KwaZulu Government. Mr Nsibande was sent to my sister, Princess Morgina Dotwana, to tell me that if the Zulu people elected me to lead them when a KwaZulu Government was created, I should not refuse.
From my position as Chief Minister of the KwaZulu Government I drove several initiatives to bring different peoples together, despite the Improper Interference Act. I established the Buthelezi Commission and the KwaZulu/Natal Indaba, which resulted in the first non-racial government in South Africa; the KwaZulu Natal Joint Executive Authority. I also chaired the South African Black Alliance, which consisted of Africans of many ethnic groups, as well as Indians and Coloureds.
I thus take exception to being portrayed as a narrow-minded Zulu Nationalist bigot who has relied on Zulu ethnicity to win support.
I worked with Mr Colin Eglin, Dr van Zyl Slabbert and Dr Zac de Beer when they led the Progressive Federal Party. Ms Helen Suzman was my friend, and I worked with people like Alan Paton. Even ten years into democracy I was reaching out for inclusivity when I established the Coalition for Democracy with Mr Tony Leon.
From 1994 my team in Parliament has reflected the population of South Africa. Even though we lost seats, the IFP team in the National Assembly and in KwaZulu Natal reflects the face of South Africa.
Surely, Professor, you know these facts about me and my Party. Surely you know how Inkatha was started?
In 1975 Mr Tambo and I were invited by an NGO in Washington, the African-American Dialogue Series, to attend a seminar to discuss the burning issue of economic sanctions and disinvestment against South Africa, in Addis Ababa in Ethiopia. Mr Tambo and I spent a whole night discussing the issue at the Hilton Hotel in Kenya; but we could not agree. Mr Tambo then recommended that both of us should not go to the seminar and be seen to differ on an international platform. So I went and Mr Tambo stayed in Kenya.
On my return I again stopped in Nairobi, and we travelled together with Mr Tambo to Lusaka. I had gone to Lusaka and Dar es Salaam to see President Kenneth Kaunda and President Nyerere to thank them for giving sanctuary to exiles of all our political parties.
It was during that trip that President Kaunda expressed their appreciation as leaders of independent African States for my being the black voice in opposing Apartheid in South Africa. President Kaunda went on to advise me that, in order to be a cohesive force, I must start a membership-based organisation. I consulted Bishop Alphaeus Zulu and other leaders in South Africa, and I sent emissaries to Mr Oliver Tambo to inform him of President Kaunda’s suggestion. He agreed that I should proceed.
From the very beginning we stated that the IFP is based on the principles of the ANC as propounded by the founding fathers in 1912. The founder of the ANC, Dr Pixley ka Isaka Seme, was my uncle and one of my mentors. This was long before I met Mr Tambo, Mr Sisulu or Mr Mandela. When I was in Matric, I did errands for him during school vacations. Dr Seme even intervened when I was rusticated from the University of Fort Hare in 1950.
It is therefore nonsense that I needed to assure the ANC of my loyalty. That is not what prompted the meeting in London in 1979 (not 1980). The issue of allowing the ANC to operate in the KwaZulu territory was also never part of our discussion. These statements on page 92 suggest ignorance of my relationship with the ANC.
I had worked with Mr Oliver Tambo for decades when he requested that I come to London in October 1979, with a delegation of Inkatha, in order to discuss two burning issues of the time; the issue of economic sanctions and disinvestment against South Africa, and the issue of the armed struggle. That meeting took place for two and a half days in the Excelsior Hotel in London, but Inkatha could not be convinced to engage the armed struggle or support sanctions.
We did not both leave “feeling affronted”. We left with the intention of resuming discussions in December to iron out the composite approach which Inkatha advocated. But that was never to happen.
Just days later, Mr Tambo released a press statement denying that the London meeting had taken place. Then, in June 1980, speaking at the 25th anniversary of the Freedom Charter, Mr Alfred Nzo, the ANC’s General Secretary, fired the opening salvo in what would become a decades’ long campaign of vilification against me.
Thus my relationship with the ANC did not begin with a conflict between Inkatha and the UDF, as you state on page 91. Nor was competition between Inkatha and the UDF the cause of the low-intensity internecine civil war that claimed some 20 000 black lives. That violence was part of the ANC’s People’s War, which was turned against Inkatha during the campaign of vilification in order to secure political hegemony after liberation.
The violence did not take on “an increasingly Zulu nationalist form”. Umkhonto weSizwe simply began targeting all Zulus as though they were automatically Inkatha supporters.
On pages 91 and 92, you use two words which are misleading, and damaging: “until” and “consequently”. In the first instance, you state “…violence rose substantially… until a last-minute deal was struck that mollified the IFP”. This places the blame for the violence squarely with the IFP, which is a blatant lie. Have you read the tome by Dr Anthea Jeffery; ‘PEOPLE’S WAR’?
The “last-minute deal” that was struck was in fact the signing of a Solemn Agreement on International Mediation, which promised to engage such mediation immediately after the elections to deal with the outstanding matters of negotiations. On the basis of this Agreement, the IFP agreed to contest the 1994 elections. The Agreement was never honoured.
The lie that Inkatha was responsible for the violence is repeated in the sentence, “Recognising that the demand for secession (which is not what we asked for) really reflected a desire for inclusion (this is nonsensical), the ANC successfully demobilised IFP militancy through a diplomatic politics of power-sharing, and consequently political violence dissipated steadily after 1996.”
This entire concept is absurd, as is the concept of an ANC strategy of “charming and compelling” the IFP “into the new order”. I was not “offered a significant ministry in the cabinet”. In terms of the Interim Constitution, any party receiving more than 10% of the vote was entitled to seats in Cabinet. The IFP won Cabinet seats in a democratic election. It had nothing to do with the magnanimity of Mr Mandela or a strategy of charming me. Equally so, I was appointed Acting President on 22 occasions based partly on my Cabinet seniority, not some strategic generosity of the ANC. But President Mandela was not obliged to appoint me as Acting President nor Mr Mbeki.
Returning to the issue of so-called secession, how exactly did I direct the King? I would be interested to know how you arrive at this idea.
You refer more than once to the fact that access to State resources for campaigning and patronage is a “key part” of the “power struggle” and is “necessary to secure support”. This acknowledges that the abuse of State resources to sway election results is a real issue.
It surprises me how the shenanigans of the ANC are downplayed concerning the kind of funding they have and the extent to which they abuse State resources. They do this on a wide scale. In fact, the DA took them to court concerning their open use of food parcels to bribe voters.
The IEC has yet to stop the practice of employing SADTU members as electoral officers, despite SADTU being openly affiliated to the ANC. Electoral fraud has repeatedly been identified in voting stations manned by SADTU members, including voters voting more than once.
In many places, the IFP does not even have Party Agents to guard against such fraud, because we are so cash-strapped. It is accepted fact that money is the milk of politics. Yet the IFP’s lack of resources is described as a pretext. I cannot understand why.
In 2002, Mr Nelson Mandela stated (talking about me): “WE HAVE USED ALL SORTS OF AMMUNITION TO DESTROY HIM. WE HAVE FAILED. HE IS STILL THERE. WE CANNOT IGNORE HIM. HE IS A FORMIDABLE SURVIVOR.”
I have a video of Madiba saying this and I can send it to you if you are interested. Can Inkatha Freedom Party withstand all the resources of the ANC which are used to destroy me, as stated by Mr Mandela in this statement? And yet his position as leader of the ANC never quenched the flame on friendship of several decades. Even after Mr Oliver Tambo cut off ties with me, Madiba kept writing to me and sending me messages. Some of the correspondence is today preserved for posterity in books such as ‘A PRISONER IN THE GARDEN’. ‘CONVERSATIONS WITH MYSELF’ and the latest book is ‘MRS WINNIE MANDELA’. Professor, what kind of research is this, which ignores all this evidence of my roots in the ANC?
I also fail to understand the reasoning behind the statement that our main competitor “is no more the ANC but rather the National Freedom Party”. By the same token one would have to say that the DA’s main competitor is no longer the ANC, but the EFF; and the EFF’s main competitor is the IFP.
I find your reading of the IFP’s 2014 campaign message rather odd. Quoting one paragraph from one speech among some 100 speeches I delivered during the campaign, you draw the conclusion that our campaign had a “tone of resignation” as though “the IFP was becoming a spectator to politics rather than a key player, and that power was being handed from an older generation, represented by the IFP, to a younger, post-apartheid one.”
Even from that one paragraph, I fail to see how the IFP represents an older generation, while the younger generation is non-IFP. The relevance of the IFP and the need for the IFP’s integrity is the politics of the present was emphasised throughout our campaign. Our Party is no spectator to politics.
You mention the IFP’s reluctance to enter into electoral alliances “such as the short-lived Coalition for Democracy (sic)”. In fact, the IFP did become part of the Collective for Democracy, and the Collective still exists.
You also mention our reluctance to enter an electoral alliance with the EFF because this “undermined the idea of the IFP as a substantial party”. Where do you get this from, Professor? There was never any talk of an electoral alliance between the IFP and EFF. Mr Malema came to see me in January 2014 simply to apologise for his behaviour towards me in the past. That was clearly expressed in subsequent statements, articles and speeches.
These misrepresentations are serious, most particularly the oft repeated accusation that a Buthelezi cult has purged and expelled emerging leaders, paralysing the Party from moving forward, as well as the accusation of Zulu nationalism and ethnic politicking, and the accusation that the IFP was responsible for the violence and bloodshed of the past which were only stopped by mollifying, charming and magnanimously sharing power with the IFP.
You hold an influential position, Professor, and it worries me that you are guiding a younger generation to build on a wrong and faulty foundation. I urge you to examine the facts I have laid out in this letter and to consider that what you have been told or led to believe could be a product of the propaganda machinery. And I question your ability as far as research is concerned.
I would be grateful to receive your considered response, particularly on those aspects of your writing that require ‘unpacking’.
PRINCE MANGOSUTHU BUTHELEZI MP
PRESIDENT OF THE INKATHA FREEDOM PARTY