Mangosuthu Buthelezi's Online Letter
Dear friends and fellow South Africans,
The rather absurd question has been asked whether there is any political significance to the fact that I get sick. Most people I know get sick during their lifetime, have operations and face the frailty of the human body in various ways. With great thanks to God Almighty, throughout my life I have been spared from much misfortune, and have enjoyed a strong and healthy constitution.
I have always worked to the fullest measure my body and mind have allowed, and often beyond. I have often pushed myself beyond what I should have, and what happened to me two weeks ago was one of such occurrences. I was forced to go to hospital on account of being overworked and extremely fatigued. I thank God for it, though, considering that most people do not make it to my age and many of those who do are not able to work long hours.
Getting sick, whatever the cause, is never a pleasant experience.
However, misfortunes are the time in which one feels the love of those around us. I have been inundated with expressions of concern, solidarity and affection. I could not possibly return the calls or write to all those who left messages for me or called my family or office. For this reason, I must use this newsletter to thank you all for your affection and concern.
Amongst the many messages I received, were concerns that I would leave politics on account of my having spent five days in hospital recuperating from exhaustion. I can assure all those who expressed such concern that it takes much more than a scratch to get Mangosuthu Buthelezi off the battlefield.
This forced break has given me time to watch our national discourse much more closely, and I must say that I am concerned by what I see. I am particularly concerned about the fissures between our different people groups that are being forced open by careless statements and reckless behaviour. Reconciliation and nation building are giving way to social division.
The most obvious example, of course, is the ANC's rejection of the Equality Court's ruling on the singing of Dubul' iBhunu as constituting hate speech. COSATU's President led hundreds of shop stewards in singing the song, in flagrant disregard of the Court's judgment, and the ANC Youth League is appealing the ruling. This serves only to alienate a portion of our population and drive a wedge between us.
The announcement by the Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform, that Government may seek to change the Constitution to revisit land reform programmes, could do further harm to our cohesiveness, reinforcing the notion that a specific group of South Africans is being targeted. The farmers' union has expressed concern that a move like this will see farmers forfeiting land through unsubstantiated land claims.
South Africa is a nation divided. Corruption divides the servants of the people from the people they serve. A flawed education system divides school leavers from a competitive labour market. High unemployment divides the recipients of social grants from struggling tax payers. A State intent on secrecy is divided from a public that wants to know.
While our humanity, values and patriotism draw us together, there are many bridges to build and rebuild on the road ahead.
Last year we celebrated Heritage Day buoyed on the enthusiasm created by the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup. This year, Heritage Day coincides with the Rugby World Cup, and many of us are likely to be watching the All Blacks take on France. As always, sports have, to a certain extent, united our nation.
But as we celebrate Heritage Day on the 24th of September we should take stock of all that has the potential to divide us and determine what we can do to create a heritage now that will unite the next generation.
Yours in the service of the nation,
Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP