Cap­tion dis­torted his­tory

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - COMMENT -

AC­KNOWL­EDG­ING the long friend­ship be­tween Man­dela and Prince Man­go­suthu Buthelezi, the Weekend Ar­gus pub­lished a photo of the two, yet the cap­tion re­vealed shock­ing ig­no­rance.

In stat­ing, “Man­dela was credited for get­ting Buthelezi to stop the vi­o­lence”, it em­braces long-dis­cred­ited pro­pa­ganda. The lie that Buthelezi was re­spon­si­ble for the vi­o­lence of the past was a strate­gic part of the vil­i­fi­ca­tion cam­paign against Inkatha and its pres­i­dent, waged dur­ing the ANC’s Peo­ple’s War as a means of en­sur­ing po­lit­i­cal hege­mony. It was never vin­di­cated with a shred of ev­i­dence.

In her book, Peo­ple’s War, lead­ing aca­demic Dr Anthea Jef­frey ex­posed the truth of the ANC’s re­lent­less war against Inkatha.

Inkatha al­ready had a mil­lion mem­bers in KwaZulu and on the Reef when the Peo­ple’s War be­gan, mak­ing it the great­est ob­sta­cle to the ANC’s dom­i­na­tion of a post-apartheid South Africa. Dr Jef­frey ex­posed the depth of pro­pa­ganda against Inkatha, in­clud­ing the lie that Inkatha col­luded with “the se­curo­crats”.

She also ex­posed how the ANC was the only or­gan­i­sa­tion to ben­e­fit from the po­lit­i­cal vi­o­lence of the early 1990s, af­ter all ma­jor apartheid laws had been re­pealed; for they used th­ese killings to stig­ma­tise De Klerk and the IFP, and to stam­pede ne­go­tia­tors into giv­ing them what Joe Slovo called “a fa­mous vic­tory” in ne­go­ti­a­tions.

In 2002, far re­moved from the blackon-black po­lit­i­cal vi­o­lence and blood­shed, Man­dela ad­mit­ted to the ANC’s cam­paign of de­struc­tion against Buthelezi. He said, “We have used ev­ery am­mu­ni­tion to de­stroy him, but we failed. And he is still there. He is a for­mi­da­ble sur­vivor.”

Many mo­ments in the re­la­tion­ship be­tween Man­dela and Buthelezi in­flu­enced the course of his­tory. Rather than em­brac­ing pro­pa­ganda, th­ese should have been high­lighted as a fit­ting way to hon­our Man­dela.

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