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Mcebo Dlamini appears in court. Picture Credit: Julia Madibogo
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Mangosuthu struggled for liberation

By unknown | Jun 12, 2007 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Derrick Thema

More than just putting into perspective Inkosi Mangosuthu Buthelezi's role in the struggle, Herbert Vilakazi has placed in the public domain a reckless and dangerous tendency.

That of maligning a politician who was pivotal in the peaceful transition to our democracy.

When the country was on the precipice of a conflagration, it was Buthelezi that former president Nelson Mandela courted. So much so that Jacob Zuma, whose struggle credentials are impeccable, was deployed to KwaZulu-Natal to douse the fire. The role that Zuma played in assuaging his kinsmen is immeasurable. The two men successfully managed a situation that could have turned very nasty.

This does not suggest that Buthelezi is a saint. The pre-1976 generation knows that he operated within apartheid structures with the tacit approval of the ANC in exile. Inkatha started as a cultural movement and gradually evolved into a political party. Given the dynamics of the oppressive atmosphere within which a semblance of political activity was seemingly viable, Buthelezi galvanised support for the IFP.

As a chief, it was necessary for him to exploit his cultural standing in a group that has held steadfastly to its

culture. He invariably became an unlikely hero as he continually frustrated the National Party government to perpetuate the farcical homeland "independence".

As the IFP evolved, the atmosphere that spawned Black Consciousness (BC) in the early 1970s saw the emergence of political radicalism. So consumed were the BC proponents by their hatred of apartheid that they viewed any association with it as treasonable. So much so that when Themba Sono suggested homeland leaders be embraced, he was hunted out of the movement.

BC would have nothing to do with the precedent set by the ANC. It was this hatred that resulted in the killing fields of the IFP and Azapo. This intolerance also consumed the Zim- Zims and Charterists. This is what led to the continued ostracising of Zulu hostel dwellers, ostensibly because of their support for the IFP.

The polarisation of relations between Buthelezi and Zulu- speaking people, and the ANC and the mass democratic movement has continued unabated. This despite Mandela extending the olive branch to Buthelezi when he appointed him deputy president in the new democratic government.

This polarisation must be curtailed because it has the capacity to fan strife of unimaginable proportions. More so because the Zuma saga, whether or not there is a conspiracy, is seen more as an attempt to thwart the ascendancy of a Zulu president. This makes the Zuma saga a powder keg just waiting to explode.

The name-changing exercise needs to be circumspect lest it fans this polarisation. In this regard, omitting to honour Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe will not only reflect badly on the government, but will demonstrate its inherent intolerance.

lDerrick Thema is an independent writer, writing in his personal capacity


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