/ 18 January 2002

Exhibit ‘maliciously links Inkatha to violence’

Jaspreet Kindra

The Inkatha Freedom Party has demanded the withdrawal of an exhibit at a Durban museum run by the African National Congress-led council which, it says, “maliciously and libellously” links the IFP to political violence in KwaZulu-Natal.

The IFP’s national council, which met at the weekend, attacked as a “distortion of historical facts” and “cheap political propaganda” an exhibition at the KwaMuhle Museum entitled Amasinyora and Comrades: Crime or Politics?. The IFP said it was “not in the interests of peace and reconciliation”.

IFP MP Mfuniselwa Bhengu said the exhibition includes the following declaration: “Inkatha-KZP [KwaZulu Police] SADF [South African Defence Force] supported amasinyora, provided weapons for amasinyora. No arrests by KZP and KZP/SADF members of the gang.”

The amasinyora were a violent, anti-ANC grouping in KwaZulu-Natal in the 1980s. Bhengu, who dashed off a letter of complaint to the museum, said the “hidden meaning” of the statement was that “the IFP worked in cahoots with the SADF and the KZP; the IFP provided weapons to the amasinyora, probably to kill people; the KZP did not arrest these people because they worked with the IFP in killing the people; and that the KZP, SADF and IFP were working together as a ‘gang'”.

He said the exhibition was aimed at perpetrating conflict and hatred among members of the IFP and the ANC.

Defending the exhibition, the museum’s acting director, Rooksana Omar, said: “At this juncture in our country’s history, it is important to examine our past as dispassionately as possible. To remove the exhibition would amount to censorship and a sanitisation of our troubled past and would impede the critical processes of healing and reconciliation.

“The exhibition does not ascribe the violence to any political party and is not accusatory or defamatory in content.”

Omar said the exhibition had been well researched and that there is no “one truth” about the events. “To believe that there is a single true interpretation is both autocratic and undesirable.”

Bhengu described Omar’s unwillingness to close down the exhibition as “insensitive and callous”. She was “busy reopening wounds” inflicted at a time when thousands of Africans died, with the IFP alone losing more than 400 of its leaders.

Bhengu also objected to the exhibition’s lumping together of the United Democratic Front, the Congress of South African Trade Unions and the ANC, “anti-apartheid forces, comrades, activists”. This implied “the ANC and its alliance is clean and did not commit any violence against the IFP. They are comrades who were fighting apartheid, and everybody else, who was not an ANC, was an enemy of the people. This shows clear bias in favour of the ANC.”

The IFP national council has also called for an investigation into the reported racist remarks by two of its senior Gauteng members, MP Basil Douglas and Margaret Arnold, late last year on the election of a white member, Barry Dunn, as IFP Gauteng chairperson.

Douglas and Arnold allegedly urged Indian and coloured members to boycott the election.

IFP national spokesperson Musa Zondi said the investigation will assess whether disciplinary action is needed. The national council restated that “racialism has no space” in the IFP.