In an interview with KwaZulu-Natal ANC provincial chairperson Senzo Mchunu, journalist Niren Tolsi recently succumbed to the party line (“ANC veteran ready for the big ticket”, March 15).
He wrote: “Mchunu … remembers the extreme danger of being identified as an ANC or United Democratic Front activist … in the 1970s and 1980s when the apartheid state was arming and training Inkatha death squads that rampaged through the province in a bloodlust.”
These statements are patently untrue, originating in the ANC propaganda of the time, which accused Inkatha of having paramilitary groups to kill political opponents.
In reality, as chief minister of KwaZulu, I and my cabinet ministers were assigned a VIP protection unit of 200 men, based on threat assessments, attacks and assassination attempts.
Absurdly, the ANC labelled this unit a “hit squad”. Yet the ANC accusation was tested in the well-documented 18-month trial of the former defence minister, General Magnus Malan, and Inkatha Freedom Party administrative secretary MZ Khumalo in 1996.
Both were acquitted by the Durban Supreme Court, which could find no convincing evidence that the Caprivi training was intended to equip Inkatha to carry out unlawful killings.
The idea of a VIP protection unit rampaging through KwaZulu with an uncontrollable desire to kill or maim (the definition of “bloodlust”) defies common sense.
Yet Tolsi fell for the propaganda. He reproduced these lies in the article without indicating that they are a subjective and refutable account. He neglected to point to an alternative account: that the ANC had an armed military wing (Umkhonto we Sizwe), whereas Inkatha had no military wing because of its rejection of the armed struggle.
It has been documented by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that “the ANC was responsible for killings, assaults and attacks on political opponents including members of the IFP, Pan Africanist Congress, Azanian People’s Organisation and the police” and that the ANC contributed to “a spiral of violence in the country through the creation and arming of SDUs [self-defence units]”.
This has also been documented extensively in Dr Anthea Jeffery’s book People’s War and in Nick Howarth’s first-hand account in War in Peace: The Truth about the South African Police’s East Rand Riot Unit 1986–1994 that it was Inkatha supporters who were in extreme danger of being identified as such at a time when the ANC’s armed and trained military wing was killing people simply for being Inkatha supporters.
Once again, it is a case of propaganda versus historical fact. May the truth prevail.
Mangosuthu Buthelezi, MP, is the president of the Inkatha Freedom Party