Mangosuthu Buthelezi's Online Letter
Dear friends and fellow South Africans,
Napoleon Bonaparte said, "If they want peace, nations should avoid the pin-pricks that precede cannon shots."
I thought of these words on Monday when I heard Dr Cedric Xulu, spokesperson for the NFP, blaming me directly for the murder of an NFP Councillor. This is not the first time I have been blamed for political violence.
Years of propaganda misled people into believing that I was guilty of fostering the black-on-black low intensity civil war that raged in the eighties and early nineties in KwaZulu Natal. Yet even the extensive Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission could find no single instance in which I ever ordered, condoned, ratified or authorized human rights abuses or violence. It never happened.
Thus when people like Protas Madlala claim that I "have always been a violent man", I challenge this lie, in court if I must. Such reckless comments about me and my Party are damaging and dangerous. They are used by our political opponents to perpetuate the myth that the IFP is violent.
The ANC Youth League's Bheki Mtolo used this tactic when he said that I am directly to blame for the violence in KwaZulu Natal. Mrs kaMagwaza-Msibi was hardly less subtle earlier this year, when a mob went on the rampage in Umlazi's T-section. Police could not confirm the political affiliation of any of those involved, but she grabbed the opportunity to say, "It's sad that there are people who oppose democracy. I urge the IFP leadership to publicly oppose such acts of violence and intimidation."
The IFP is routinely used as a scapegoat and whipping boy. When the NFP's Provincial Chairperson in Limpopo was suspended for using party resources to operate a loan shark business, Dr Cedric Xulu announced that an official charge would be laid against her. She retaliated by calling Dr Xulu an "Inkatha member whose agenda is to divide the party".
This stirring of old tensions is reprehensible. The NFP should know better. Yet following recent murders, NFP Spokeswoman Ms Zanele Cele claimed, "The attacks came after talk of violence by leaders of another political party". The allusion was not obscure; the next morning ETV ran the headline, "NFP slams IFP for reckless comments about its ANC alliance".
This was Dr Xulu's accusation as well. He told the media that the murders came after the IFP President launched an attack on the relationship between the ANC and the NFP "over the weekend". This is disingenuous. I said nothing last weekend that I have not said many times before, even in the national House of Parliament.
My remarks at the weekend's SADESMO Conference are on the public record. I challenge Dr Xulu to point out what I said there that I did not say during the State of the Nation debate on 15 February 2011. And what I said that day is on the record of Parliament. Let Dr Xulu read the transcript in Hansard and show me a single sentence in which I incited violence.
He will not find it, because it's not there. I have never once encouraged or instructed our supporters to engage in violence. My repeated call has been for peace, calm and no retaliation. I believe in engaging problems through negotiation, not the barrel of the gun.
My entire legacy stands as testimony to this truth.
This is why the time has come for a meeting between the leadership of the IFP and the NFP. Let us talk seriously about this issue and resolve it.
In response to the latest murders, the IFP has called on the Police to find the perpetrators, and we have asked the NFP to work with us in stabilizing the situation in KwaMashu. The NFP's Zanele Cele has likewise said, "Painful as it is, (we) must have faith in the South African Police Force that arrests will be imminent soon."
I agree that we must leave the pursuit of justice in the hands of the justice system. I do, however, regret that we have not seen arrests or closure when it comes to countless murders and violence against IFP members.
Before the elections, IFP members and councillors were killed in Gauteng, and their murders have never been solved. In KwaMashu, Mr Makathini was killed and up to now no one knows what happened to him.
In Enseleni, where Mrs kaMagwaza-Msibi was visiting in her former capacity, our members were shot at and one had his leg amputated.
Later Mrs kaMagwaza-Msibi complained that they had invaded her meeting, thereby justifying the use of violence.
It remains a mystery why the Enseleni incident was not resolved. The Police were present at the meeting and our members were shot at in broad daylight.
A couple of weeks ago, two more of our Councillors were murdered, and we are waiting to hear of arrests or leads in the investigation. IFP people have died suspiciously for decades, and their murders are never solved.
Indeed, the whole issue of politically motivated violence has never been adequately addressed, especially when it comes to members of the IFP. Like every other party, we made a comprehensive submission to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, detailing the unsolved murders of some 400 IFP members. To date, none of those deaths has been solved.
Thousands died during the previous era, but the advent of democracy did not see the end of the killing. We have still not seen the end of it.
So I say again, it is time for us to meet the NFP, to stop the many pin-pricks that precede canon shots by speaking openly and frankly, face to face. The killing must end. Let us leave it in the hands of the Police to find the perpetrators and bring them to justice. But let us accept that it is in our hands to do everything we can to stop the violence.
Yours in the service of the nation,
Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP
Liezl van der Merwe
Press Officer to Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP
on 082 729 2510.