Letters to the editor: February 2 to February 8

KZN was no bantustan

It’s one thing to hate me. It’s another to lie about me in a national newspaper.

In his article titled “State, amakhosi and residents at odds over tribal land”, Paddy Harper writes: “Buthelezi signed off on the Ingonyama Trust Act as the then KwaZulu-Natal bantustan chief minister …”

But there was no such thing as a “KwaZulu-Natal bantustan”. It has never existed.

KwaZulu-Natal never became a bantustan because we never accepted independence. That explains why, unlike Transkei, Ciskei, Venda and others, KwaZulu-Natal never had its own military or passports. Because I refused to convert what was left of the Zulu kingdom into a bantustan, Pretoria retaliated by denying KwaZulu-Natal the right to establish an army.

Moreover, former president FW de Klerk admitted at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that they [the National Party] abandoned the grand scheme of apartheid because of my rejection of independence.

No matter how often Harper repeats the lie, I was never a bantustan leader.

My participation in the homelands system, which was foisted on us, was at the behest of Inkosi Albert Luthuli and Oliver Tambo. At the unveiling of Tambo’s tombstone, ANC leader Cleopas Nsibande revealed — in the presence of Nelson Mandela, members of the Cabinet and the ANC’s leadership — that Tambo and Luthuli had sent him to my sister with an urgent message.

They asked that if the Zulu people were finally dragooned into participating in the homelands system, and elected me to lead, I should take up the position, for in this way we could undermine apartheid from within.

Then deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe reiterated this fact at Nsibande’s funeral, adding that Nsibande had frequently come to Luthuli House imploring his leaders to reconcile with me, because he knew that I had participated in the homelands system on the ANC’s instruction.

I worked closely with Tambo for years, until an ideological split in 1979 when Inkatha Freedom Party refused to participate in the armed struggle or support the call for economic sanctions.

Even after this, Mandela and I continued to correspond, and when he became president he appointed me acting president at the first opportunity. If I were the man Harper portrays, why would Mandela have done that?

Harper’s lies are not rational. But they mislead those who don’t know the facts.

Why should he get away with it? — Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP, president of the Inkatha Freedom Party

My Africa makes me weep

As a young African, living in a province called South Africa, I sometimes sit and silently wonder: “Is this the African continent that leaders such as Thomas Sankara and Robert Sobukwe fought for?”

Trying to answer that question leaves me with many more questions that need answers, such as how they would have turned out if they were still alive, and whether they’d be happy with the current state of affairs on our beautiful but ugly continent.

Although I sometimes try to answer those questions, I’m left with a sense of dissatisfaction and disgust at my current leaders, who I think have forgotten why they fought against oppression in the first place. I’m starting to think that it has something to do with chronic memory loss; after all, the continent is filled with aging heads of state who are forever fast asleep and in need of rest.

It breaks my heart to see images of my African brothers and sisters fleeing from their own people and countries, and taking dangerous and drastic measures in pursuit of a better life — and it’s even more heartbreaking to see how many of them end up losing their beloved lives in the process.

Let’s not forget the deadly civil war happening in South Sudan where many of my brothers and sisters have died, been injured, suffered, been displaced and who’ll have to live with the effects, including the brutal psychological damage, of war.

We should also think of the heartbreaking war happening in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the ongoing slave trade in Libya. Is this the Africa we want? Is this what being an African is all about ?

What does it mean to be African today? We have an African Union, which is supposed to be the head of African unity but which is funded by non-Africans. The very same African Union is situated in a building that was fully funded and built by non-Africans.

I’m left wondering how have we, as African people, allowed ourselves to be governed by dinosaurs with absolutely no ideas and no sense of patriotism or Africanism. Could it be that we, as African people, portray no sense of belonging or Africanism?

A people who effectively do not own their home will forever be treated like outsiders in their own land and will die eating the narrative being fed to them by others. — Modibe Modiba

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