Letters to the editor: November 17 to 23 2017

MK in ‘IFP-style’: Mangosuthu Buthelezi (far left) accompanies Leabua Jonathan to inspect the bombed homes of ANC members in Lesotho

MK in ‘IFP-style’: Mangosuthu Buthelezi (far left) accompanies Leabua Jonathan to inspect the bombed homes of ANC members in Lesotho

A dirty hatchet job

When the Truth and Reconciliation Commission offered amnesty to anyone who had committed “grave violations of human rights” — defined by law as murder, torture or mayhem — the president and half his Cabinet applied. Without ever having to disclose what they did, they received blanket amnesty.

But I refused to apply, because never once had I committed, ordered, authorised or condoned an act of violence. Instead, I asked that the state formally charge me if I had orchestrated any criminal act. Not a single charge was ever brought.

Yet, in a dirty hatchet job, Paddy Harper paints me as a villainous and murderous apartheid stooge “Buthelezi bows out … at long last”. I want to say he is a victim of propaganda. But he is brighter than that. He is the perpetrator, comfortable in the engine room of poison, malice and lies.

Determined to paint us as the devil, he tries to link the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) to those who carried the apartheid flag on Black Monday. His connection? They wore “IFP-style khaki shorts”. Those khakis were the original uniform of the ANC’s Umkhonto weSizwe. Inkatha adopted the ANC’s uniform and colours because we were taking up the original liberation struggle.

Consider the photo accompanying my letter, taken when I was invited to Lesotho by Prime Minister Leabua Jonathan. The ANC’s representative, Mr Ndlovu, arranged MK cadres to accompany me. Look at their “IFP-style” uniforms. Together we inspected the homes of our comrades that had been bombed by apartheid security forces. In that same visit we celebrated King Moshoeshoe II.

Harper’s claims go against all the evidence. Absurdly, he claims that the IFP has “withered and died” in a democratic dispensation. Go say that in Nkandla more than two decades into democracy. Say it in Nquthu or eNdumeni where we went up against the full force of the ANC, and won. Or come say it in Parliament, where the IFP serves in the National Assembly.

All evidence points to a growing party. And the IFP will keep growing, because it’s not about one man.

I have accepted the nominee chosen by the broad leadership of an extended national council, and I will assist the party in whatever way I am asked by our new leader. That includes stepping back or staying silent. I will do what is right for my country and people, as always.

I accomplished what I was asked to do by Oliver Tambo and Chief Albert Luthuli when I took up leadership of KwaZulu-Natal. I undermined the apartheid system from within. KwaZulu was never a Bantustan, because I never accepted nominal independence. I derailed apartheid’s grand scheme to deprive millions of their citizenship. Harper knows this. He just doesn’t want you to know it. — Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, president of the Inkatha Freedom Party


We need to stop the ticking of the racism time bomb

Racial issues are slowly but surely becoming a time bomb in our nation and they will soon cost us more than we can imagine.

If we really love South Africa then we must find a way to stop this ticking. If not, our home and our motherland will soon be in great agony.

And don’t be deceived — we will all be affected, especially poor South Africans.

“A poor man always pays the ultimate price, sometimes with his own life, and he is mourned only by his house, while life goes on for the rest.”

It is high time South Africans confront sensitive issues, issues that were long buried and forgotten.

Either we deal with our past, or our past will soon deal with us.

We should put our pride aside and stop playing victim, when we were perpetrators. And [we need to] accept responsibility for racial prejudice and inequality in this beautiful nation.

Once someone somewhere accepts the fault, then a serious but decent dialogue can start. It won’t be an easy process but it will be better than civil war.

On the other hand, we should also change our perception on racial issues. We can’t keep on blaming an entire race for the choices that individuals make.

Because I believe that my actions don’t represent my race, they represent my personality. And my personality represents my mindset, not my race. We all have precious cultures.

As a nation we must learn to agree or disagree with leaders without minding their race. Because a wrong will always be wrong, and a right will always be right, despite who said it.

We must stop sabotaging the truth and facts.

We can’t ignore the fact that racial issues are more spiritual than physical. For instance, we never see the race of a doctor, because of their good deeds.

Goodness is like light — it drives out darkness. Let us serve one another with humility. We as a nation should pray for our country without losing hope for a truly reconciled rainbow nation.

As it is written in the holy book: “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8) — Eric Shikobela, Mamelodi


It’s a chance for us to rebuild Zim

I am 37 years old and Robert Mugabe is the only leader of Zimbabwe I have ever known. This is the case for the majority of Zimbabweans.

I would like to think that the excitement and nervousness we feel is the same sentiment of our elders, who have seen the country transform before. It is a feeling of pride and hope that is stronger than fear, and we must remain positive.

This military coup seems peaceful. But why can it not be? If the prospective leaders care about the future of Zimbabwe and its people, they must remain on this path of a nonviolent transition of power.

The Zimbabwean diaspora and the rest of the world watches with bated breath, and I have no doubt that millions are wondering whether this might be the moment that they can return to their homeland.

I hope that the future leaders will look to us for help and guidance, and not stubbornly insist on rebuilding this torn country alone. We have a lot to contribute .

To the rest of the world, let’s start providing that help. There is basic infrastructure to repair, schools to rebuild, a healthcare system to heal … what a legacy that would be.

Instead of a legacy, Mugabe has left damage and suffering in his wake, and a country that had so much hope 37 years ago was brought to its knees. Now is a chance to rebuild. Don’t blow this great opportunity.

— Kirsten Carter, in the diaspora

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