LETTER TO THE EDITOR
THE SUNDAY TRIBUNE
Via email: [email protected]
In America, the silly season has just started. The silly season begins when an election is approaching. During this time, the American voting public is generally inundated with political misinformation, half-truths, progressive spin, abusive rhetoric, slander and accusations.
Sadly, in South Africa, the silly season prevails throughout the year. Specifically where it comes to media coverage of the IFP and its President, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi.
Ranjeni Munusamy's article titled "Indians feel the loss of their go-to guy" (Sunday Tribune, 29 January 2012) is a case in point. In a piercingly insightful piece on the life and times of the late Minority Front leader Amichand Rajbansi, she desperately tries to create a comparison between the MF and IFP when she claims that Prince Buthelezi, just like Rajbansi, is well versed in the "survival tactics of the antihero" and that both men have softened public sentiments of those who "loathed" them.
Most politicians are loathed; and most politicians have to adopt survival tactics. That is the very nature of politics. But Prince Buthelezi is certainly no antihero. As an elder statesman, his track record speaks for itself.
Many, including former President Thabo Mbeki and President Jacob Zuma have recognised his vital contribution in securing our democracy. Prince Buthelezi has acted as the President of South Africa on more than 22 occasions, while other senior IFP leaders have served in Cabinet. Prince Buthelezi's accolades include receiving a number of international human rights awards, as well as taking the lead on national issues like HIV/Aids, labour legislation, traditional leadership, migration and education.
No one sets that standard higher than Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi. The attempt to create a comparison between the two men and their two organisations is therefore futile to say the least.
Now, and at times of national crisis throughout our history, Prince Buthelezi has never aspired to be popular. It is not the IFP's role to be popular; it is our duty to be right. It is our duty to provide moral leadership in a country that has lost its moral compass.
That is Prince Buthelezi's legacy. It is a legacy which cannot be reduced or discredited by commentators hell-bent on spreading anti-Buthelezi propaganda. This is an old, but persistent practice, intended to distort history. For the sake of our multi-party democracy, I urge those who frequently indulge in a bit of Buthelezi/IFP bashing to refrain from this ridiculous and malicious practice.
LIEZL VAN DER MERWE
PRESS OFFICER TO PRINCE MANGOSUTHU BUTHELEZI MP