Dear friends and fellow South Africans,
I have been called many things in my life, some positive and some
insulting. By now I know not to take it to heart. Character is not what
other people believe you are, but what you are regardless of who is
After three decades of delicate reconciliation efforts, the ANC has again
turned up the volume on its anti-Buthelezi rhetoric. Among the latest
barrage of jabs and insults is an article published in Isolezwe on 2
February, penned by Dr Makhosi Khoza, Chief Whip of the ANC in the KwaZulu
Dr Khoza sets herself the goal of "researching" my ties to the ANC's
beginnings. But because she starts with the wrong questions, and from a
foundation rooted in propaganda, her conclusions are deeply flawed. She asks
"Where did he go wrong. that he turned against the struggle" and is he
"ashamed about what he was supposed to do and did not do?"
This is not an honest academic enquiry, and it doesn't take long for Dr
Khoza to abandon that pretext and label me "a sell-out".
By her own admission, Dr Khoza was a child in the seventies when I founded
Inkatha, and later when the ideological rift opened between Inkatha and the
ANC. Thus she has no direct memory of our liberation history before the
ANC's People's War and her understanding of my legacy was formed at the
height of the ANC's vilification campaign against me.
As a man who lived our liberation history, who knew and worked with the
founding fathers and pioneering leaders of our struggle, I feel a
responsibility to educate Dr Khoza. She is one of a generation of South
Africans who knows only what the ANC chooses to tell her. That is a tragedy
The ANC's centennial celebration has focused on the Presidents of the Party,
starting from its founding President, Dr John Langalibalele Dube. Accolades
are heaped on the ANC's leaders as though each was a paragon of moral
excellence devoted entirely to South Africa's liberation.
Dr Khoza would be surprised to hear that Dr Dube was also labeled "a
On 16 December 1930, the Communist Party organized a massive pass burning
just outside Durban. It ended in four deaths and widespread harassment by
the Police. It also led to one activist, Eddie Roux, accusing Dr Dube of
being "a sell-out". That was seven years after Dr Dube had been accused,
during an annual conference, of "doing nothing about the worsening native
In September 1935, General Hertzog's Bill on the Representation of Natives
was before Parliament. It provided for four white senators to represent all
African interests. Government convened regional conferences to discuss this
legislation. My father, Inkosi Mathole Buthelezi, attended the Natal
conference, as did Dr Dube, Professor ZK Mathews, Selby Ngcobo and Albert
Luthuli, Ngcobo and Mathews were part of a younger generation of leaders in
the South African National Native Congress, and they were alarmed by Dr
Dube's approach, which they considered too soft. They sought to meet with
him to express their concerns, but Dr Dube, who was already old and becoming
unwell, proved disinclined to entertain the views of these young men.
I mention these two moments in our history to show that we who engaged the
liberation struggle were flesh and blood. We were subject to opposition and
misinterpretation, both from our enemies and our comrades. Politics was
always a factor. There were always those who sought to make a name for
themselves. And the younger generation always questioned whether the older
generation was as passionate as they were.
The ANC's airbrushed version of our past impoverishes our understanding of
ourselves and drives a wedge between us made of nothing more than smoke and
mirrors. It is easy to criticize leaders. Dr Khoza will recall the criticism
leveled against her from within her own Party in June last year, when the
ANC Youth League in KwaZulu Natal called her "an individual desperate to hog
headlines and to position herself as a paragon of moral excellence better
than all. the messiah within the ANC".
That is called an ad hominem argument, Dr Khoza, when one attacks the person
rather than debating the issue. Such as when you write that I sold out my
nation by corruption, for personal gain, and I now want history to pardon
me. You are pulling this out of thin air. The record of history doesn't
support your attack.
Neither does President Zuma's speech to which you refer in Isolezwe.
President Zuma never mentioned me in Mangaung on January 8th. I was present,
at the ANC's invitation, based on the historical ties between our parties,
and I never once heard him utter my name.
The statement referred to in Dr Khoza's Isolezwe article is the full
statement of the ANC's NEC on the occasion of the centenary celebration. It
is a substantial document, which was given to the media. But when the
President delivered his speech from this document he left out the part where
the ANC accused me of having failed the mandate they had given me to keep
our people focused on the liberation struggle.
It would have been difficult for President Zuma to say this in my presence,
because he knows it to be a lie. I did precisely what Inkosi Luthuli and
Oliver Tambo asked me to do when they urged me to accept leadership of
KwaZulu. We hoped to undermine Apartheid from within. My position as Chief
Minister gave me the authority to reject nominal independence for KwaZulu,
which rendered the grand scheme of Apartheid untenable. I thus achieved
exactly what I had been tasked with achieving.
In a show of bad faith, Dr Khoza omits one line from her quote of the ANC's
statement. In that line, they admit that the above is true.
History has not judged me harshly, Dr Khoza, nor has it punished me. My
vilification has come at the hands of the ANC. In fact, history may very
well remember me like this -
".while allied to the Zulu royal house, campaigning for recognition of the
king and working to save folklore, poetry and customs from extinction, (he)
also continued to look forward to a day when all South Africans would have
representation in a common parliament. He never treated these as mutually
exclusive, nor did he promote any other than peaceful, constitutional means
for their realization."
You may be surprised again, Dr Khoza, to learn that that is how history
remembers Dr Dube, on page 261 of the book titled "The First President: A
Life of John L. Dube, Founding President of the ANC".
History looks through the eyes of many observers, and takes the facts into
account. History is not constructed by the ANC. It is merely distorted.
Yours in the service of our nation,