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Cosatu’s devious incitement of anarchy and carnage

“This very weekend, I received urgent warnings that the ANC has decided to abduct two of my children and to kill them … it was a serious warning, urgently given … I don’t know the truth of it … there are certain elements in the ANC quite capable of such a thing.”

Mangosuthu Gatsha Buthelezi, a leader of the Zulu dominated cultural movement turned political party, the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), made this chilling remark in 1991 when political tensions between the IFP and the ANC had peaked and violence rampant.

Prior to the 1994 democratic elections political violence had erupted in certain parts of the country, particularly in KwaZulu-Natal, where supporters of the IFP, led by Gatsha Buthelezi, clashed with supporters the ANC. The worst form of violence engulfed the region and threatened the first democratic elections, and lead to the signing of the National Peace Accord in 1991.

“Today there is a psychosis of violence on both sides of the political spectrum … also, in the reaction against violence, one sees growing signs of a justification of violence. This approach and culture of violence leads to polarisation which may land us in a civil war … this cannot continue … violence and intimidation have to come to an end,” the former President FW De Klerk said in 1991.

Buthelezi had been largely blamed for incitement of violence during this fragile period of the dawning of democracy. He was most skillful, as indicated in the opening quote of this article, in playing on the political loyalty and fervour of his supporters, which is revealed in this statement he made when addressing a rally in 1995: “I know in my heart that the people of the IFP are one with their leader, as much as the leader of the IFP is one with the collective body …”

He continued to tell his spears and knopkerrie-wielding supporters that, “The ANC is consolidating its power in our country and is hell bent on destroying anything which stands in its way. I was shocked when I heard President Mandela in Parliament taking pride in the fact that he “crushed” signs of opposition to the central government in other provinces, making the not too veiled threat “to crush” any sign of dissent in the Kingdom of KwaZulu-Natal. This is to word he has used, as we have seen once again on his visit of Tanzania.

I must tell you these things because I am your representative in the Government of National Unity and when they insult me and treat me with contempt, they are really telling you, the IFP people and the people of the Kingdom of KwaZulu-Natal, that your most important needs are not worth listening to.”

The Zulu prince had been most skillful in arousing the emotions of his supporters and channeling them towards attainment of particular political aims, however violent it may have been. Buthelezi never once directly encouraged his supporters to bear arms and fight; but his message to them had been ingeniously veiled in order to free himself of any blame.

“I am accused of murderous warmongering, which I strenuously refute. I loathe the sickening murder and mayhem that is causing untold suffering,” he said.

We are now seeing Cosatu employ the same tactics of incitement which are disguised as some measure of concern over the potential consequences of prosecuting the President of the ANC Jacob Zuma. Cosatu “fears” that its members who are said to be seething with anger may destabilise the country and render it ungovernable should the rule of law be upheld by institutions of justice.

The idiot general of Cosatu Zwelinzima Vavi has been relentless in blaming the media and the prosecuting authority for persecuting Jacob Zuma and reinforcing the inane belief that there is a political conspiracy against him. Vavi supported the chief imbecile of the ANCYL’s call to take up arms and kill for Zuma; and he has insulted and undermined the judiciary by labelling them “kangaroo courts”.

Vavi on August 20 2008 addressed his audience at Gordon Institute of Business Studies (GIBS) and said, “Let me for the record state categorically that Cosatu not only respects the independence of judiciary but actually regards it as the corner stone of our hard-won democracy. It is just a myth driven mainly by media hysteria, that we have no respect for these pillars of our democracy.

It is a myth that we are a threat to our Constitution and the institutions flowing from it. No matter how many times this untruth is peddled it will not change the fact that Cosatu and the rest of the formations who fought a long and hard struggle to win this constitutional based democracy are not a threat to our democracy.”

The utterances of members of Cosatu, including Vavi himself, unfortunately do nothing to shield them from rebuke and to modify the unfavorable impression we hold of them.

“You too, if you do not listen to the voices of the poor, war unto you,” Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini warned Trevor Manuel.

“A responsible movement that seeks to unite the country must be seen to be going out of its way to assure all that the threat does not exist,” said Vavi. This assurance of non-existence of a threat to the judiciary and a threat of violence is futile when there are relentless efforts by Cosatu leaders to subvert justice and members of Cosatu being condition for a particular violent reaction if the unlawful wishes of federation are not fulfilled.

The behaviour of Cosatu is a reflection of that of Gatsha Buthelezi in the early 1990s when he was fomenting violence and abusing it as the political weapon to advance its self-interests. It is an insult to the intelligence of general public that Cosatu would expect us to believe that they are champions of virtuous conduct.


  • Sentletse Diakanyo's blogs may contain views on any subject which may upset sensitive readers. Parental guidance is strongly advised.