INKATHA FREEDOM PARTY AND THE MUSLIMS IN THE NEW SOUTH AFRICA
by His Excellency, Mangosuthu Buthelezi, Chief Minister of KwaZulu and President Inkatha Freedom Party
(Condensed from an address to the Muslim Community at Abdul Aziz Auditorium, Durban, Sept. 12, 1991. The full text of this address which was at the invitation of Ahmed Deedat of the Islamic Propagation Centre was sent to THE AMERICAN MUSLIM by T. C. Memela, Chief Communication Officer, Kwazulu Bureau of Communication. Ed.)
I believe that I would long ago have given up politics if I did not believe that there was a God who related to man and who directed the course of history. I believe in people. I believe in goodness, and for me politics is that which should bring forth the goodness out of man.
Inkatha Freedom Party is struggling to establish the kind of democracy in which the Zulu road and the Muslim road merge. We have been struggling for the stage in South African history in which all the race groups of our country find common cause with each other to go forth as new South Africans exhibiting a new faith and a new vision in a new democracy.
We abhor racism because it is anti-God. We believe that everyone in South Africa should be given equality before the law and the constitution which each and every South African enjoys in the sight of God.
We may be different in education levels, we may be different in terms of income, or we may be different in terms of what we possess, but ultimately when it really comes down to it, it is decency and honesty and faith and the ability to hope in times of adversity, that distinguishes man from animals.
I have in the past appreciated the good relations that have existed between me and my colleagues and the Islamic Council of South Africa, although we have been more closely in touch in the past than is the case at present.
My political message to you is that we are South Africans together and now is the great time of history in which we should rise up together and be strong together for the sake of our children and future generations which will follow them.
Now is the time to realize that South Africa - and indeed Mother Africa herself - has provided us with a blessed and undeserved time in which we can each be strong and in which the added strengths that we bring together in unity far exceeds the sum total of the strengths of all its parts.
My message to you is that your path as Muslims, my path as a Christian, and the path of all South Africans has led us to this great cross-roads where we now stand and we now have to face the future together because history has dumped us together.
As a result of unequal development, South Africa comprises both First and Third World sectors. The First World component consists of a well-developed economic base, a comprehensive communications and infrastructure and a sophisticated financial system. The Third World component is confined to the poorer black majority and is indicated by high infant mortality, poor health, welfare services, housing, educational facilities and infrastructure. If poverty continues to escaate as it is doing in the black community there will not be peace in South Africa.
I know that you will have to be my partner in what now has to be done, and I will have to be your partner in what has to be done.
We need an all South African response. There is now a ripeness of historic time in which we now can do something about these injustices. We must do something about them.
This is our land. It is your land and my land. South Africa today is the place where we begin our journey into the future as newly found partners.
After the final liberation and delivery to a true democracy, we will have to face the responsibility of bringing politics and economics together as two sides of but a single coin.
I am utterly convinced that no government will survive for any length of time in the future if it does not make political victories over apartheid meaningful to ordinary people in terms of increasing their standards of living. If politics cannot do that for people, people will reject the politics which they see as failing.
Everywhere in Africa politics has proved the mortal enemy of democracy and it will be no different in our country. We must arrest poverty. We must go on after political victories against apartheid to win victories against poverty, ignorance and disease.
There must be democracy. There must be a vast expansion of an enterprise-driven economy. There must be the bringing of economics and politics together to benefit man.
The four great tasks which we need to pursue are: 1) To establish an open, free, non-racial, equal opportunity, reconciled society with democratic safeguards for all people. 2) To harness the great resources of the country to fight the real enemies of the people: poverty, hunger, unemployment, disease, ignorance, insecurity, homelessness and moral decay. 3) To redistribute the wealth of the country for the benefit of all people, and to establish political and economic structures that encourage enterprise and create the wealth all governments of the future will need. 4) To ensure the maintenance of a stable, peaceful society in which all people can pursue their happiness, and realize their potential, without fear or favor.
It is not just any manner of finally destroying apartheid and establishing a new government that will do. We need to dump apartheid and establish a new government which will enable us to carry out these tasks.
This for me means creating stability and continuity whcre there is now violence and disruption. This means for me abandoning the politics of confrontation and espousing the politics of democratic cooperation.
I pause now to look at South Africa around us. Look how many have been injured, how many have died, how many have lost their homes and everything they possessed. Communities are divided. Parents sometimes cannot even trust children. And, then there is the revenge kill ing which follows killing. And, then there is the blood feud killing which grows out of revenge killing. And, then finally there is the criminal killing for gain.
I am only too aware that these black on black brutalities are bound to frighten you from joining hands with us. But, even before the violence erupted you are aware that hardly anyone of Asian extraction appeared willing to join hands with us.
But one thing that needs to be emphasized is that there is nothing you can do to change the fact that you live and have to earn your living in our midst just as we cannot change the fact that we live and work in your midst. You are not going to wish us away, just as we cannot wish you away. We will either survive together or perish together.
As a community you need to think very carefully about this. I respect those who join hands against my party by joining ANC/SACP alliance more than people who are neither fish nor fowl. I respect those who disagree with me in your community who make their choice and stand against me more than those who want to be all things to all men. We have reached a time for a multi-party democracy and democracy is about freedom to choose.
My response to how you as a Muslim community can act in faith for the future when violence is spreading in South Africa, is to say that it is poverty that is fanning the flames of violence and that is something you can act on.
We must find ways of distributing income and wealth and of spreading opportunities for gainful employment amongst the poorest of the poor.
I do not advocate the kind of distribution which is a simple taking from the haves and giving to the have-nots. Even school-level arithmetic will tell me the the sum total of the wealth divided by the total number of people will equal perhaps not even a day or two’s relief for all. We can only distribute wealth if there is wealth to distribute. We must come together to create the wealth that needs distributing, and we must come together to do so now while society is under stress. We cannot wait for happy days after democracy before we commence on this process.
I believe that the process of change in South Africa is now totally irreversible. Mr. de Klerk has burnt his bridges behind him. There is no open road back to apartheid for the National Party.
The next step, I believe, is the holding of a Multi-Party Conference in which we can sit down and plan how to get negotiations for a new constitution off the ground.
The way forward, I believe, is for us to embark on a political voyage of discovery of how much we really have in common as South Africans. If we want continuity and sufficient stability in which to undertake sound constitutional development, we will have to work in harmony with each other.
The black struggle for liberation has always been a struggle to include the disenfranchised and the oppressed in the South African society. The struggle was not to destroy South African society. It was only to rid it of racism, to make possible the inclusion of the oppressed. We as Blacks want the same South Africa that you as Muslims want.
We as Blacks, and you as Muslims, want the same kind of South Africa that Whites want. We want a modern, Western-industrialized democracy in our country within which we can make economic progress.
If you and I sat down tonight to list the thjngs we woud like to see preserved in South Africa, we would end up with a very formidable inventory of why we should work together.
When I think of a Multi-Party Conference to plan constitutional development and to get negotiations off the ground, I think of a gathering together of South Africa’s strengths and a moving into the future with that strength behind us.
Islam is important in the world. You are my people. You are of Africa. You are South Africans and you have a role to play in bringing the forces of Islam to bear on the transitionary period which lies ahead. As individuals and as a Muslim community, you can get involved.
You can interface between South Africa and Islam and you can interface between the haves and the have-nots in our country. Every person a Muslim project makes literate, is a person whom you are saving for South Africa.
Every community which is made more self-sufficient and more capable of developing internal dispute-solving mechanisms is a community that you can help turn into a democratic building block of the future.
Muslims are traders and every Black that Muslims could help establish themselves in the informal economic sector, and every Black whom Muslims call help to make the transition from thc informal to the formal sector, is a Black who will develop the kind of vested interest in which you and I will finally have to rely. The door has for a long time been closed for us Blacks to trade in the Metropolitan areas of this land. Help us to get entry points. Let us be partners. You have had expertise in these fields for a long time - share your expertise with us. We in the IFP do not believe in the dispossession of the affluent to distribute to the poor. But we have a job to uplift our poorest of the poor for as long as they exist they will remain a threat to the rich. So we need to do this for sound business reasons. We need to do it out of enlightened self-interest.
Every person, family or community whom you assist is a person and a family and a community which will relieve the load that poverty will place on the State in the future.
Whether it is in constitution building, or whether it is in the development of international trade, or whether it is in poor relief or community development, you and I are thrust together by history which demands that we now become partners.
I would like to quote from The Qur’an:
“And nearest among them in love to the believers will you find thse who say: ‘We are Christian,’ because among these are men devoted to learning.” 5:84. We are all in a quest for peace and justice in our troubled land. “Follow not man’s selfish desires, but God’s Will, which was revealed to Moses and Jesus and now to Muhammad. Take not for friends and protectors those in whose heart is a desease - to whom religion is a mockery or a plaything - who worship evil, proclaim the truth of God, and be not afraid. Eschew their inequities, which were denounced by David and Jesus. But recognize with justice those who are sincere and humble, though they may themselves not be of your flock, if they witness to Truth.” 73:78-79.
We really do belong together. We have too long been neighbors who befriended each other across the fences that divide our lives. We have smiled at each other because the fences were there and we were not one people. Now that history has torn down the fences that apartheid erected to separate us, we must become the one people which history demands that we become. There is only one future for South Africa, and there is only one common destiny for all of us.
Let us get on with the business of living together to finally arrive at that destiny together.