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Continuing antipathy between ANC and IPF stems from lack of guidance for 1976 generation. Their ignorance is now tearing South Africa apart, writes Herbert Vilakazi

By unknown | May 31, 2007 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Tension, intolerance, hostilities and hatred characterise political and human relations between the ANC and the IPF, particularly in KwaZulu-Natal but also in the rest of the country.

This hostility has lowered the spiritual quality of the life of all in KwaZulu-Natal and has harmed political relations and governance in the province.

In 1960 Harold Macmillan, then prime minister of Britain, made a historic speech in the South African parliament in which he warned about the "winds of change" blowing down Africa. He was referring to African nationalism and the nationalist movements that were active in all regions where Africans were still oppressed.

Macmillan warned that there was no way of stopping these winds of change and said they were destined to triumph throughout colonial Africa.

The white rulers of South Africa responded by speeding up separate development, granting African people so-called independence within ethnic enclaves. Thus were born Transkei, Venda, Bophuthatswana, Gazankulu, Qwaqwa and Ciskei.

The stumbling block was the refusal of KwaZulu, under Inkosi Mangosuthu Buthelezi, to accept "independence".

Zulus are the largest ethnic group in South Africa and have acquired a reputation for their military prowess. Fear, even hatred and grudging respect, were a significant force in the consciousness of colonial statesmen, which became important in the liberation struggle.

As the struggle began to heat up in South Africa in the 1970s and 1980s the fear of the Zulus' military prowess worried the white government's leaders and their military strategists.

Strategists of the white state decided to drive a wedge between the Zulus and the ANC. They infiltrated agents with this urgent mission into all the liberation movements, including the ANC and Inkatha.

Buthelezi became the focus of attack for two reasons:

l the white establishment knew of the close partnership between the ANC and Buthelezi, particularly between Buthelezi and ANC president Oliver Tambo;

l he was the leader of the largest mass organisation in the country at the time, Inkatha Yenkululeko Yesizwe, which had been formed with the support and encouragement of the ANC.

So a third force was set up that engaged in train killings, murders in Boipatong and killings in hostels. In the news reports on these horrible events there was always a sentence quoting alleged witnesses saying that the perpetrators "were heard speaking Zulu".

Another factor in the hostility between the ANC and IFP was the role of youth in the liberation struggle.

The culture and logic of political resistance in South Africa suffered from the banning of the ANC and PAC from 1960 to 1990.

Nelson Mandela was aware of this problem. On May 4 1990 he was asked about the intolerance and violence in the struggle.

Madiba said that the post-Sharpeville banning of the ANC and PAC led to many experienced and mature leaders being imprisoned, and others going into exile. Almost all adults withdrew from politics. A vacuum of experienced, adult, and wise leadership emerged.

None were left to teach the young political generation tolerance and discipline, and to embody the tradition of tolerance and humanism in the struggle.

After Sharpeville the only critical voices in the African community were those of Black students - and that of KwaZulu's chief minister, Mangosuthu Buthelezi.

The Black Consciousness Movement (BCM) denied Buthelezi legitimacy. They felt he did not represent the oppressed because he worked within a government-created institution.

The terrible effects of this error in political judgment remain with us, contributing to the current degeneration of our public and private life.

The issue of legal and illegal forms of struggle and of boycott as a revolutionary measure have arisen in all revolutionary struggles.

Nelson Mandela wrote about this in February 1958 in an essay "Our Struggle Needs Many Tactics" about "boycott as a political weapon and on parliamentary representation".

"In some cases . it might be correct to boycott, and in others it might be unwise and dangerous.

In the opinion of some people, participation in the system of separate racial representation in any shape or form . is impermissible on principle and harmful in practice.

"According to them such participation can only serve to confuse the people and to foster the illusion that they can win their demands through a parliamentary form of struggle...

"The basic error in this argument lies in the fact that it regards the boycott not as a tactical weapon to be employed if and when objective conditions permit, but as an inflexible principle which must under no circumstances be varied.

"The liberation movement avails itself of various political weapons, one of which might, but not necessarily, be the boycott. It is, therefore, a serious error to regard the boycott as a weapon that must be employed at all times and in all conditions."

Mandela and Walter Sisulu also wrote important essays in 1976 and 1978 while still in prison that dealt with how the liberation movement should deal with bantustans.

Sisulu did not mince his words in his essay "We Shall Overcome": "One of our greatest mistakes is to see in every man and woman who works within these apartheid institutions an enemy of the revolution."

Over and over again Mandela and Sisulu called for unity among the people struggling against oppression.

When the leaders of the ANC realised that the National Party was set to implement separate development in what is now KwaZulu-Natal, they decided to ask Prince Buthelezi, who was in the ANC movement, to take up chieftainship and to stand for the leadership of KwaZulu so that he could continue the struggle against white supremacy within separate development, following the tradition of the ANC.

Until about 1980 the ANC had close relations with Buthelezi. Tambo especially kept close links and met Buthelezi many times outside South Africa to exchange views and coordinate matters.

Towards the end of the 1970s, Tambo, Ben Magubane and I were walking down Amsterdam Avenue in New York city.

"I am having problems with these boys," said Tambo.

I asked: "Which boys?"

Tambo replied: "These 76 boys. They say I must stop having relations with Buthelezi, in fact, that I should consider him an enemy."

We continued walking in silence for some seconds, then Tambo uttered one word in Nguni: "Abazi."

The tragedy is that the voices and pressure of those who did not know won.

Abazi. That is the problem the old ANC leadership never resolved.

Youth who in the 1970s and 1980s were declared to be the vanguard of our struggle were not properly educated by the elders of the ANC and PAC on these matters, above all on the need to combine legal and illegal struggle, and on the policy on boycotts.

They did not know of the relations between the ANC and Buthelezi.

Inkatha was established with the support of the ANC. And consultations between the ANC and Inkatha have continued.

One organisation was outside the country, engaged in armed struggle; the other was inside the country, engaged in struggle within the legal framework of the white state.

This was acceptable within the principle pronounced by Nelson Mandela and Walter Sisulu that the struggle for liberation uses many weapons.

lThis is an edited extract of a presentation by Herbert Vilakazi to a Democracy Development Programme forum in Durban. Vilakazi is professor of sociology at the University of Cape Town and a prominent author.


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