The late founding president of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi’s wish before his passing was to see his party and the African National Congress (ANC) reconcile.
Both ANC and IFP presidents, Cyril Ramaphosa and Velenkosini Hlabisa, echoed his sentiments at his funeral at the weekend.
However, as the IFP is now regarded as a significant element in the Democratic Alliance’s (DA) Multiparty Charter to remove the ANC from power, we explore whether Buthelezi’s desire for reconciliation between the ANC and IFP will be achievable.
Former IFP Secretary General Reverend Musa Zondi says, “The ball is in the court of the ANC. His prayer, up until he closed his eyes and departed from this world, was that he wanted the IFP and the ANC to reconcile.”
Reverend Zondi, a longtime friend of the late Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, is outlining the vision of reconciliation that his departed leader had envisioned.
“But would reconciliation not mean the ANC and the IFP should collapse into one organisation? NO. It simply means that all the negativity and the propaganda, because there is hostility on both sides, reconciliation would deal with that because if we don’t reconcile, it’s like a powder keg that would torpedo all the achievements that have been made in this country,” Zondi explains.
In his eulogy at Prince Buthelezi’s funeral, President Ramaphosa said that despite all their difficulties, they have to fulfill Buthelezi’s longstanding wish of having the two arch rival parties bury the hatchet.
“Prince Buthelezi took time to express to me his desire to see the IFP and the African National Congress permanently reconciled and working together to build our country. For this, he earned my admiration. We carry the heavy weight of memories and much heartache. But, difficult as it may be right now, it is important that we fulfill the wishes he had for a sustainable and durable reconciliation not only between the IFP and the ANC but amongst all of us as the people of South Africa.”
IFP President Velenkosini Hlabisa also weighed in on Buthelezi’s reconciliation wish and vowed to work to rebuild and make the IFP a party to be reckoned with in the country’s body politic.
“Long after this liberation, he was still worried about the many wounded hearts in our nation. He sought reconciliation with the ANC right to the end of his day. He made his plea again and again that the issue of reconciliation must be finalized. As the president of the IFP, I want to replace on record that I will strive to ensure that the IFP remains a strong force to be reckoned with to rebuild our country as we move forward as the nation of South Africa.”
‘A good move’
But political analyst Nkosikhulule Nyembezi says having the two parties reconciled will be a good move but insists only young people can manage to have that realised.
“The blame game is over as both parties forge a good working relationship based on unity and integration. They can start by allowing for dual membership and a joint rally at the branch level so that the working relationship matures organically from the bottom up. They can put up posters during the election and campaign together so that we can see the diffusion of tension. So, those are the practical steps they can take, and I think it lies with young people to take this initiative because the old people still have grudges, which the young people shouldn’t harbor, so the opportunity is there.”
With political temperatures set to rise ahead of the 2014 national elections, It only remains to be seen if, indeed, the ANC and the IFP will reconcile, at least according to the late founding president of the IFP’s wish.