Buthelezi snubs Pretoria Freedom Day celebrations
IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi said he would not attend the Freedom Day celebration in Pretoria on Friday because his party’s role in the struggle against apartheid was not recognised.
“We celebrate Freedom Day today as an IFP celebration, because we know without fear of contradiction that the IFP made a significant contribution to the liberation of our country,” he said in a speech prepared for delivery.
“So, no, I am not at the Union Buildings today. I am here [at a rally in Ladysmith] remembering the heroes and heroines of the IFP who laid down their lives for the freedom South Africa celebrates.”
He said the Union Building celebration would primarily focus on the ANC’s role in the struggle.
“This year, in particular, as the ANC celebrates the centenary of its founding, there is an explicit agenda to position the ANC in the national psyche as the sole liberator of South Africa,” Buthelezi said.
“I only hope that, unlike last year, the President [Jacob Zuma] will not stand by while opposition speakers [at the celebration] are heckled and booed.”
He said Zuma unveiled a “Heroes’ Arch” in Esikhawini last month commemorating people who were killed in political violence, but did not invite the Inkatha Freedom Party.
“Are we not allowed to remember the past? Let me make it clear that plans are still afoot to destroy the IFP,” he said.
During the Freedom Day event in Pretoria, the IFP’s Oscar Maseko said 18 years of democracy meant it was now time to tie up “the loose ends of the reconciliation reached”.
When Zuma arrived at the celebrations, he was greeted with cheers, whistles and shouting.
Adorned in green and gold, the military band entertained the crowd with music.
People cheered loudly during a fly-past by the SA Air Force, and a 21 round gun salute.
Several military aircraft shot through the sky as a big contingent of photographers tried to capture pictures.
With one hand firmly on his chest, Zuma joined in the singing of the national anthem.
Other dignitaries present at the event were deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe, Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, Arts and Culture Minister Paul Mashatile and Tshwane Mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa.—Sapa.