Black Leadership Analysis

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Township Violence

Mangosuthu Buthelezi Part 1

  • Played his Great-Grandfather in the 1964 movie Zulu
  • Signed the Mahlabatini Declaration of Faith in 1974
  • Founder of Inkatha Freedom Party 1975
  • Won key to the city of Birmingham, Alabama USA
  • Minister of Home Affairs 1994 -2004
  • Chief Minister of KwaZulu Bantustan
  • Publicly acknowledged two of his children died of HIV/AIDS in 2004

Mangosuthu Buthelezi was born on August 27, 1928. He is the Prince of the Zulu people and the great-grandson of King Cetshwayo. King Cetshwayo was the king the fought the British in the Anglo-Zulu War. He acts as Prime Minister to the current Zulu King Goodwill Zwelethini kaBhekuzulu. Buthelezi is also the chief of the Buthelezi clan.

The Zulu royal family serves chiefly a social function as descendants of the great King Shaka Zulu. The Zulu are the largest Bantu tribe in South Africa. The royal family does have significant influence in KwaZulu-Natal province which contains the ancestral homeland of the Zulu people. The influence over people in KwaZulu-Natal and Zulu people all over the world leads royal family members to be appointed to government positions and get elected to positions of power in additions to the royal family’s great leadership ability.

Buthelezi studied History and Bantu Administration at Forte Hare University. Due to political activism as part of the African National Congress (ANC), he was expelled from the college. Buthelezi completed his degree at the University of Natal. He began his government career as a clerk in the Department of Bantu Administration. After getting married, he became chief of the Buthelezi clan in 1953.

Buthelezi had the honor of playing his great-grandfather Cetshwayo in the 1964 movie Zulu. The film centered around the battles of Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift in the 1879 Anglo- Zulu War. The movie is a British classic often watched on Christmas in England to bolster patriotism. Critics consider Zulu one of the best war films ever made.

He became Chief Executive Officer of the KwaZulu Territorial Authority. The KwaZulu Territory was created as a way to increase apartheid control. The point of Bantustans, later called homelands, was to remove the black population from the urban areas of South Africa. If blacks had areas in which they had a separate government, they would not need or petition the larger South African government for rights. Also, the South African government could expel blacks to a “homeland” at will. Also, the “homeland” government was not fully-independent. If a homeland leader acted against the South African government, he was promptly disposed and replaced.

In 1974, Transvaal leader Harry Schwartz and Buthelezi signed the Mahlabatini Declaration of Faith. The declaration provided a non-violent plan to racial reconciliation in South Africa. The declaration focused on providing all people economic opportunities regardless of race, non-violence, and respect for ethnicity. At this time neither the ANC or the National Party were pursuing peaceful solutions. Non-violent activist all over the world applauded the effort. Many of the principles of the declaration were used to form the Democratic government.

Inkatha Freedom Party to the KwaZulu Police

Buthelezi founded the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) in 1975 with the blessing of the ANC. It began as a Zulu cultural organization but became more politically active after the exile of the ANC. Inkatha members began to take every position in the government. By the 1980’s Inkatha ruled the KwaZulu homeland as a one-party state. The KwaZulu Police was formed in 1981 and will be in existence until the Democracy in 1994.

In the mid-1970’s, Inkatha worked closely with the ANC. Inkatha saw itself as the branch of the ANC that operated inside of South Africa. Inkatha’s mission was to create alternatives to Apartheid by working within the government for concessions. The South African government completely controlled other homeland territories from the beginning. Critics cannot make that claim about KwaZulu in the 1970’s.

As the 1970’s progressed, Buthelezi moved away from the ANC’s mission to overthrow the government. He supported the free market economy, which in turn, forced him to oppose government sabotage, international sanctions, and protesting. A meeting took place in London in 1979 to reconcile Buthelezi to the ANC. Buthelezi held to his support of free market capitalism. In his estimation, the most important mechanism to improve a black person’s life is a good job. If South Africa’s economy suffers, blacks will be the first to lose their jobs.

In the 1980’s students in the KwaZulu began to protest for better learning conditions. Buthelezi ordered Inkatha members to restrain students and force them back into the school using violence. Buthelezi viewed the action as discipline for lack of patriotism. In June of 1980, Buthelezi petitioned for the formation of an army to keep order in KwaZulu. Inkatha formed the KwaZulu Police (KP) in 1981. The KP patrolmen were colloquially known as Impis, the name of Shaka’s famous infantry.

Violence in Kwazulu

The violence began in 1983 in response to an increase in KwaZulu influence. The South African government saw KwaZulu as a way to prevent the expansion of The United Democratic Front (UDF). The UDF was an alliance between ANC, SA Communist Party, and Coalition of South African Trade Unions (COSATU). The UDF began to support affordable housing activists in Natal. Natal is the province that surrounds KwaZulu. The South African government was moving toward making all the black townships of Natal subordinate to KwaZulu.

The violence between UDF and Inkatha began in Lamontville, a Suburb outside of Durban. The South African government identified the town for incorporation into KwaZulu. The Inkatha mayor killed an activist for affordable housing. Buthelezi and Inkatha did not condemn the action. A similar situation happened Hambanathi and Chesterville.

Later in 1983 Inkatha supporters at the University of Zululand wanted to hold a commemoration for King Cetshwayo of the Anglo-Zulu War. Many students did not want to have a celebration and protested. The result was Inkatha Youth League members dragging students out of dorms and stabbing them with iKlwas, traditional Zulu spears. Buthelezi claims that the Youth League members acted in self-defense. However, one of Buthelezi’s subordinates said to an investigating committee many years later “Now people can see that we’re not a sitting duck, and we’re not a lame duck, and they must be careful of us.”

By the mid-eighties, Inkatha was colluding with the South African Security Forces. As Inkatha became synonymous with KwaZulu government, they realized they were natural allies. KwaZulu wanted to increase their control in South Africa. The SA Security Force saw Inkatha as a way to control the black population in a more covert manner. The SA Security Force supplying Inkatha with guns will allow them to suppress anti-government movements. In turn, the government would increase Inkatha’s influence by putting more townships under their control. If violence needed to be used to contain the UDF, Inkatha could perform the action, and the international community would not see it as oppression. The violence committed by Inkatha was and is currently seen as “black on black” violence and feeds the narrative that blacks are inherently violent.

The South African Security forces trained Inkatha members outside of South Africa in Caprivi. These trainees became an Inkatha hit squad being deployed on various missions to kill UDF members and subvert UDF support. The South African government paid the Caprivi trainees. Caprivi trainees also supplement Inkatha vigilante forces and KwaZulu police. The township violence between 1983 and 1994 did immense damage to South Africa. At its height, its apex between 1990 and 1993, 101 people month were killed on average.

KwaZulu Police (KP) which was a branch of the South African Police were known for brutality. KP raided townships that had strong UDF support. The government sponsored Goldstone Committee and Truth and Reconciliation Committee list KP as one of the worst human rights abusers in South Africa. KP burned down residences, attacked unarmed protesters, and killed non-violent activist. The South African police often provided tear gas support during raids of UDF townships.

Mandela confirmed that he and Buthelezi were scheduled to meet in 1990. The meeting would take place at the Zulu Royal Palace and Mandela would have the opportunity to lay a wreath at the grave of King Shaka. Mandela was eager to meet to thank Buthelezi for his work in helping to get his release. The meeting would also facilitate peace negotiations. The local ANC official protested, and Mandela had to back out of the meeting. Backing out of the meeting was taken as an insult to the Zulu Royal Family and the relationship was never the same.

The violence intensified after the aborted meeting. Many members of the ANC felt that meeting with Buthelezi would legitimize him as an African leader in opposition to the ANC. Other members understood that securing peace depended on Buthelezi’s cooperation. The Mandela and Buthelezi met on January 29, 1991. Both sides knew the government would not negotiate with either party if the IFP and ANC were not working together. The National Peace Accords (NPA), which was the first multi-party peace agreement in South Africa, was signed on September 14, 1991. The NPA led the way to all party talks. Township violence will not end until 1994 with the establishment of full Democracy. There were many rogue units of the UDF, ANC, and IFP that were semi-autonomous.

On Nelson Mandela

Buthelezi often talks about the close and friendly relationship he had with Nelson Mandela. They met when they were young activists in the ANC. Mandela being ten years older than Buthelezi served as a mentor. Buthelezi followed in Mandela’s footsteps by being expelled from university for activism.

When violence broke out between Inkatha and the ANC Mandela wrote Buthelezi a letter to bring peace to South Africa. Buthelezi agreed to meet with Mandela, but ANC leaders would not let the meeting happen. In Buthelezi’s words the ANC leaders “almost throttled” him. It took a year to begin peace negotiations.

Buthelezi contends that ANC leadership controlled Mandela. The ANC wanted power more than South African peace and prevented peace talks. The ANC also excluded Inkatha from Coalition for a Democratic South Africa. The USSR controlled the ANC through the South African Communist Party. The USSR and later the worldwide communist/socialist movement professed a philosophy that has been proven invalid. When asked a communist blames the failure of the USSR on cultural proclivity. Socialist never provide a real world example of proper socialism. Therefore the socialist method only worked in theory.

The ANC also influence Mandela to cancel public engagements between himself and Mandela to stop the violence. Examples are a 1991 meeting in Pietermaritzburg. Ultimately, Mandela was controlled by the ANC and was not an effective leader. Mandela’s primary concern is the ANC not the betterment of South Africa.

Buthelezi praised Mandela for admitting in 2002 that “We have used every ammunition to destroy (Buthelezi), but we failed. And he is still there. He is a formidable survivor. We cannot ignore him.” He contends that the ANC has been undermining his leadership since the meeting between Inkatha and the ANC in 1979.

On violence in KwaZulu

Buthelezi addresses what caused the violence in KwaZulu. He highlights the economic aspect of the violence. Because people did not have work, they had time to make trouble. The removal of pass laws by De Klerk made the problem worse

The ANC committed many atrocities during the era of township violence, according to Buthelezi. They encouraged supporters to hunt down government collaborators and officials. Many of the people considered collaborators were policemen. The loss of police officers led the townships to become destabilized furthering the violence. The ANC also encourages children to fight instead of staying in school. The employment of child soldiers resulted in a generation of Africans that knew nothing but fighting. The lost generation could not reintegrate into society after the war and impeded national progress.

The ANC’s goal is not the betterment of people, but a power grab to put the ANC on top. ANC often referred to itself as a government in waiting. To ensure the war ended with the ANC on top, the ANC used propaganda to undermine Inkatha. The ANC put forth stories accusing Buthelezi of cooperating with the government without evidence. These accusations fanned the flames of violence. The ANC’s naked grab for power prevented peace talks until they felt Inkatha was no longer a viable nationwide political opponent. The ANC prevented the King of the Zulu’s from speaking and Buthelezi from participating in the Coalition for a Democratic South Africa (CODESA) in 1992 as a way to ensure the ANC was considered the only legitimate voice of the Africans.

The ANC wants to wipe out all opposition including Azanian Peoples Organization AZAPO and Pan-African Congress (PAC), left-wing alternatives to ANC. CODESA suffered numerous setbacks from the inability of leaders, including Mandela from getting buy-in from all parties. The Communist Party and Pan-African Congress boycotted CODESA in 1992 and Buthelezi pulled out due to lack of IFP representation.

What the township violence was not

Many South Africans and the international community saw the township violence as ethnically based. ANC represented the Xhosa and Inkatha represented Zulu. Buthelezi saw Xhosa as a dominate force in the ANC, but to say the violence is ethnic is too simplistic. There are Zulu’s that are part of the ANC and Inkatha has members from other tribes.

The government can not shoulder all the blame for the township violence. All the leaders including Buthelezi should take responsibility for their part. To not take personal responsibility would be poor leadership. He saw the Truth and Reconciliation committee was dominated by ANC and had the goal of finding atrocities done by the other parties in the township violence. The bad reputation of the other parties would cement public opinion around the ANC. The defamation of the other parties would hurt their chances of winning elections.

Part 2

Mangosuthu Buthelezi (1928- )

M. Buthelezi is a member of the Zulu Royal Family and has a seat in Parliament. He has been a vital leader in the struggle against apartheid and building democracy. He build a political party called the Inkatha Freedom Party. He is hated for his role in the time of township violence, yet Mandela gave him important cabinet posts. More on him can be found in the attached articles.

Part 1

Part 2

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