Sunday Times

It’s delusional to say the IFP was backed by the Nats


It is quite astounding that an academic and author of William Gumede’s calibre can be so wide of the mark, in his article “King’s death a chance to heal the pain of our undeclared civil war” (April 4).

Gumede is correct when he calls for black-on-black reconcilia­tion. In fact, the biggest casualties of the ANC’s People’s War were thousands of blacks who died at the hands of fellow blacks. The AK-47s from Russia and China that were generously supplied to Umkhonto weSizwe were not used on the apartheid South African Defence Force soldiers — they were unleashed on defenceles­s black communitie­s.

However, Gumede is delusional when he says the IFP was backed by the National Party (NP). From its inception in 1975, Inkatha was formed as a potent mass movement to fight against the NP and its ideology of apartheid. The NP’s scheme of grand apartheid collapsed when Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi refused to accept independen­ce for KwaZulu.

After the release of Mr Nelson Mandela, the NP sought to negotiate exclusivel­y with the ANC at the Groote Schuur talks — the IFP was not there. The IFP has never shared a common policy outlook or political strategy with the NP. It is politicall­y disingenuo­us and historical­ly inaccurate for Gumede to portray the IFP as having had to rely on NP support for its political survival. The IFP has always survived on the strength of its partnershi­p of trust with the people.

Also, Gumede is wrong to say that the king was a patron of the IFP. The king always stayed above party politics. It is an insult to both the king and Prince Buthelezi to say that the king was used by Buthelezi. Buthelezi was instructed by Oliver Tambo and Inkosi Albert Luthuli to fight the apartheid system from within by not refusing should amakhosi elect him to lead the KwaZulu Territoria­l Authority at the time. Buthelezi was further persuaded to establish Inkatha as a membership-based organisati­on by Zambia’s president Kenneth Kaunda, acting on behalf of the leaders of the frontline states.

Gumede goes too far when he says the Ingonyama Trust must be disbanded. He betrays a shocking ignorance of the plight of poor black people in KwaZulu-Natal, whose only access to land is the trust. Through the trust they are earning a livelihood and have built homes for their families.

The Rev Thulasizwe Buthelezi, mayor of Zululand district municipali­ty, Ulundi

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