This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.
28 Aug 1991: Zondi, Musa
POM Were you away when all the so-called revelations about Inkathagate were breaking in the press or were you back in the country?
MZ I was here, it was just before we went to Taiwan.
POM Can you tell me what kind of impact did these revelations have within the youth organisation and more generally among members of Inkatha?
MZ Well it's difficult to say what kind of impact it had on the youth because every time it happened we had an annual general conference which included everybody. For the delegates that were there I don't really think that it impacted that negatively as the media made it out to be. Instead to them they saw it as an exaggeration. They acknowledged and they were concerned that the funds were channelled without the knowledge of the senior leadership.
POM Without the knowledge of?
MZ The senior leadership. That's what the people at conference were concerned about and therefore acknowledged the fact that that was wrong for the government to have done it but as we met at conference we didn't know yet which official because the government had not even intimated that there was an official who received the funds. But the main question was whether Buthelezi knew about it or not and he made a statement that he knew nothing about it and therefore conference felt that it had no reason to believe otherwise. Then later on during the week Buthelezi then came forward, the personal assistant came forward and said that he was in fact involved in receiving those funds clandestinely and therefore tendered his resignation because he felt it had caused embarrassment for the leadership and the party as a whole.
Then off we went for Taiwan and came back and we have just come from a conference this last weekend. I think they saw it, according to what they said, as a ploy partly by the South African government to destabilise the Inkatha Freedom Party by getting in funds clandestinely and enticing some one official of the party into accepting them. That's the interpretation I've had from the youth side.
POM What would be the rationale for the SA government to destabilise the IFP?
MZ Well we must not forget that the SA government had a long history of destabilising opponents, opposing organisations, but at this point in time the interpretation seems to be the National Party is interested in power. It is largely a kind of force that is ruling SA at this point in time that is looking towards the end of its road in government but instead they are also looking at every opportunity to continue to remain in power.
POM You're saying the government has in the past destabilised opponents. Why would you think the government would look upon the IFP as an opponent?
MZ Because the IFP is an opponent of the government. We don't see eye to eye as much as other organisations, we are still opponents of government and therefore we believe that the NP has its own programme, it is committed to it's own kind of future for SA, we are committed to our own kind of future. Prior to negotiations it is understandable that maybe they wanted to establish their own position as a strong opponent. We believe that other parties are not immune to this kind of destabilisation.
POM To follow up on that, do you believe that the NP has a very clear idea of what it wants and a very clear strategy of how they're going to go about getting it?
MZ Well I would imagine so even though they haven't come up with it. I don't really believe that they are confused. I don't really believe that it is the end of the world as far as they are concerned. I think the NP is quite a capable political party having had a history of ruling this country for more than 40 years. I don't think that they have come to the end of their wits about what they want to do. The general complaint even within the ANC is that within the rank and file membership of the ANC that the NP has so far out-manoeuvred the leadership of the ANC, black leadership in general.
POM There has been some talk about what they want to engage in, it's alliance politics of some description. One part of that would have an alliance between the NP, Inkatha, perhaps some homeland political parties, the independent states and that they would then try to cut into the white vote, the Indian vote and the Coloured vote. That would be one. The other would be where they would cut a straight deal with the ANC and say let's share power. Do you think either of those scenarios are likely or which one do you think is the more likely?
MZ Well it's difficult for me to say at this point in time because you see I know that speculation is very rife in the media as far as the possibility of an alliance between the NP and the IFP and those other parties are concerned. But I must say that there is nothing concrete that has been discussed or that is being discussed by the NP and the IFP along the lines of forging any kind of alliance at this point in time. The IFP remains open minded about this particular issue. It doesn't rule out any possibility of such a thing with either the NP or the ANC. That's where the IFP stands.
POM What in your view is the political fallout of Inkathagate? Have there been any clear winners, any clear losers and what do you think it may have done to the standing of Dr Buthelezi?
MZ Nothing new because, as I say, I don't remember a point in history where in fact he has been treated fairly by the media and the press and therefore there is very little if any change that one would say this hasn't impacted on his image or his position. I don't believe so. If it was intended, for instance, to rob him of some of his supporters I think therefore that the strategy has failed because instead it has returned a lot of supporters to him. In fact that has been that kind of movement as far as I can judge. Of course one could not rule out the fact that in some quarters of course some people would feel that he has a tarnished image but I don't think that that would be the kind of people who supported him in the past anyway. So I don't think it has done anything new, I really don't.
POM For over a year now since the violence broke out in the Transvaal the ANC has been saying first that Inkatha was behind it and then they moved on to saying a third force was behind it and then moved on to saying the government itself had a hand in the violence, that it was pursuing a double agenda, negotiations, the olive branch on one hand and trying to destroy the ANC in the townships on the other. Do you think these allegations have any credibility at all?
MZ Well unless and until they are proved one can't really vouchsafe for their incontrovertibility because we know that one of the aims perhaps of this government funding was to try and link that with the violence and therefore try and link the IFP to the violence, which it has failed to achieve. But we know, for instance, that the ANC actually called upon us to stand together with it to say that violence is occasioned by the third force in which the government was thought to have a key role. But then our response to the ANC was that, well if the ANC could persuade us by showing us exactly how the third force comes into being then we would consider that possibility. But we are not persuaded because we have no proof. At the same time we do say people should not treat the question of violence in a holier than thou attitude. Government must not say that agents of the state, for instance like some members of the security forces be they police or the army, do sometimes go over the mark and get involved in the violence. They mustn't deny that. The ANC mustn't deny the fact that their members are fully engaged in the violence as much as we do not deny that our members have in fact been drawn into the violence.
POM You do not deny?
MZ We do not deny that our members have been drawn into the violence otherwise there would be no fighting. What in fact, I know as a fact that those people who want to say no, no, it's just the third force, we are innocent, we are not involved, it's just third force, then it is wrong, it cannot be right.
POM But you said that at this conference you were attending last weekend, that the feeling there was that the government was behind Inkathagate, the Inkathagate revelations were in order to undermine and destabilise the IFP. By the same token would it surprise you if the government had a hand in the violence and that it was trying to use that violence to encourage Inkatha and the ANC to go at each other's throats and to undermine you both in the townships?
MZ Well that is why we say if it could be proved, that is why we were open minded about it, but we can't stand on the rooftops and say the government is doing that when we have no evidence.
POM You can't also stand on the rooftops and say that the government is not behind the revelations of Inkathagate?
MZ Yes we can because we asked the question. If funds come from the Department of Foreign Affairs why were they not channelled from the Department of Foreign Affairs straight to Inkatha? Why go via a discredited security operation? Were there any good intentions? That is a question that has not been answered.
POM I want to go back to what may sound like a pretty naïve question but, as I've been saying, the range of responses to it will compel me to ask it again and again, and that is the nature of the problem. How many points have you, both political and academic, problems of racial domination, minority white domination over a majority of blacks. The problem is one of competition between two nationalisms, white nationalism and black nationalism. The problem is not just differences in racial disparity, it is also ethnic differences existing within each racial category which if not addressed will pose the potential for conflict in the future. The problem is about access to resources, those who have them and those who don't. If you today were given the task of going into the room where all the negotiators from the various parties were assembled and you were told to define the problem they have come together to resolve, how would you define the problem?
MZ Well, as you say, I think firstly it is a racial problem. The first level of the problem would be to resolve the racial problem, the fact that black people because of the colour of their skin are excluded from all corridors of power in this country. That is the first level of the problem that must be resolved here. But then there are other levels. The second level of the problem which is economic or access to resources, that is both racial and also not quite as simple as all that.
POM Sorry, it's both racial and ...?
MZ Both along racial lines and also not quite that so it's not simply a racial problem only in the sense that the question of poverty, various of those according to racial determination of that aspect. But at the same time you would find that, for instance, if you were to talk about the Coloured and Indian people even though they are discriminated against in a way but at the same time they are not as economically worse off as black people are so that it's a question of degree. Once the racial problem if it could be sorted out we think then it would take us to the second level of sorting out the economic question where in fact you say all people must have equal access to the resources in this country or, put it this way, that you must arrive at a point where those who do not have equal access are assisted towards that situation. That level would be regional differences and regional peculiarities that happen to exist in this country. For instance there are local issues or regional issues that we think also need to be attended to if really we want to solve the whole political problem in SA. That might refer to ethnic differences within racial groups. Talk about the problem that is posed by the history of this region in particular, of this region of KwaZulu-Natal which demands that it was not created by apartheid, it was there long before any SA government came into being and that therefore the people of this region also want to negotiate a dispensation that would be satisfactory to them. I suppose, therefore, that other regions, even though I cannot speak for them, other regions might have their own local demands that they would like to have met.
Then there would be the fourth level of a straightforward political problem, what kind of government are we going to have, what kind of political system are we going to have as well as what kind of economic system that we would like to bring about. But right now we have to look at the whole thing.
POM In the West increasingly over the last year there has been a propensity to view the violence in the Transvaal in particular as being violence between Xhosa and Zulu even to the extent that The Economist, a well-regarded periodical, about five weeks ago ran an editorial saying that the violence between Xhosa and Zulu was in essence no different from the difference between Serb and Croatian. They're not comparing the two situations, they're saying ethnicity is the motivating factor in both cases. Would you agree with that assessment?
MZ Well I don't know why The Economist would say so because I don't entirely agree. I think ethnicity is a factor. I don't entirely agree because the people who have been affected by this violence are not only Xhosa and Zulu. I think that the basic problem as far as I'm concerned is political. It might actually have been that the political divide also correlates to ethnic differences but I think it's a basic moderating factor because I don't see how Zulus could say they feel a Xhosa threat and vice versa.
POM The Xhosa?
MZ I don't see how Xhosas could say they are threatened by Zulus, they can be threatened by Zulus and I don't see how Zulus could say their existence is threatened by Xhosas.
POM We've travelled around into the townships and hostels and asked mainly Zulu speaking people about this and to a person they will say the ANC is a Xhosa dominated organisation which wants to establish a one party state and Zulus stand in their way to achieving that goal. They are getting that from somewhere. Where are they getting it from?
MZ Well actually I've heard that from the ANC, from ANC publications for instance, ANC publications even as far back as 1989 they were still saying something to that effect. I've heard it from the ANC saying when the ANC comes to power in this country it would take all the Zulus to concentration camps because as Zulus they would stand in their way. I've heard that exactly from the ANC and in fact that is part of the difficulties between us and the ANC because when we met with them on 29th January that's one of the statements we wanted them to explain because as far as we knew when the ANC went into exile it was an organisation of all people and by the way it was founded by Zulu speaking people and therefore we wanted them to explain. So I think that's where it comes from because it has not been withdrawn.
POM We've had the King himself make that statement. What I'm getting at is on the Zulu side.
MZ He was not original.
POM He was not original? I guess not, but nevertheless he's saying it.
MZ Buthelezi has said it more and more, saying that this is what the ANC is surprisingly saying, way back in 1984 when he was in a township next to Durban. That's what he had to say.
POM So you're saying that when the King or Buthelezi would say this, what they are saying is that the ANC is saying that ...?
MZ Actually that's what the King's calling for when he says he's calling for a meeting between himself and the leadership of the ANC, to sort out that thing because he says as far as he understands previous Zulu Kings have had little roles even in the ANC which is the King's very own grandfather, he enjoyed patronage from the ANC and the ANC leadership was received by Zulu Kings prior to him and he was saying exactly Zulus have freedom to join any political party, the ANC, the PAC, the NP, any party, why is the ANC seeking out Zulus as a stumbling block?
POM What do you believe yourself? Do you believe the ANC is a Xhosa dominated organisation that wishes to establish a one-party state, that sees the Zulu nation as the main obstacle towards achieving that goal?
MZ Well I don't have to say it myself. If you look at the leadership of the ANC the fact of the matter is that they are dominated by people not only Xhosa but Xhosas from the Transkei.
POM Do you believe that this is their agenda?
MZ Dominated by the Xhosas?
POM No, do you believe that it is the agenda of the ANC to subjugate, as it were, the Zulus so they can go on to form a one party state?
MZ Until they withdraw that statement I have no reason to disbelieve them because they are refusing to withdraw it up to now.
POM When you look at the last year, at your own organisation, is it growing, it is gathering more support or is it static? What is the level of political development?
MZ In July last year we decided to become a political party. When we met in December more than 90 000 new members had joined the party. That was growth.
POM When you say 'joined the party' do you mean that people signed up as paid members or people just signed up?
MZ Signed up as paid members. We never count on support that is not paid up in a particular year.
POM So how many would that bring the total membership to?
MZ Well that was last year. As far as this July is concerned I believe our membership is more than 1.9 million signed up.
PAT That 1.9 million ...
MZ Paid, yes, audited by a reputable firm of auditors, Coopers & Lybrand, yes.
PAT That must be the largest party in the world, in the democratic world.
MZ Well I don't have statistics but in SA certainly yes.
PAT It's larger than the Republican and Democratic Parties, more than the Labour Party.
POM So Buthelezi and Mandela met, after many urgings the Peace Accord was signed in Durban and it collapsed. What happened?
MZ Well that is what is confounding us because I wouldn't say it is because people continue to fight. The Peace Accord was actually founded to actually bring the fighting to an end. But we really think that the ANC changed its own agenda because they published an open letter to the State President or to the government. We saw that open letter as a direct attack on us and therefore we called upon them for an urgent meeting which they postponed but eventually we met on 1 June and talked about it and called for another full round of talks between the NEC of the ANC and the Central Committee of Inkatha which has not come to any fruition. I would actually put the collapse of that to that sort of thing because then therefore we had no other contacts between us and them.
POM Would you say that the divisions between the ANC and Inkatha are deeper today than they were a year ago?
MZ What kind of divisions?
POM Divisions that result in violence. You've got this chronic state of conflict between your members and their members and that gives rise to bitterness, recriminations, revenge.
MZ I would say certainly since January I think there has been widening again, the gap has been widening, but I wouldn't say that related to the divisions that have existed between us and them prior to January because we've got to sort out this misunderstanding. In other words we don't know where we stand with the ANC at this point in time pending they allow further contacts between us and them. But it doesn't seem that they are interested any more.
POM But your refusal to participate in the Patriotic Front, does that add to the divisiveness? Shouldn't all the organisations that were part of the liberation movement, and Inkatha is certainly included among those, shouldn't all of them come together if only as a statement of collective power?
MZ Well we don't think that should be the cause to widen the gap because really it's like if we were to ask, for instance, the ANC to change some of its political outlooks they would think we are demanding too much. This is not a make or break issue for us because the simple thing is that we can't see it as a ganging up exercise against other race groups.
POM You see it as a ganging up exercise? Against who?
MZ For instance specifically that Patriotic Front excludes parties like the Labour Party, it's trying to exclude certainly parties like the NP, the Conservative Party, the Democratic Party which are basically white parties.
PAT And they've invited them to participate.
POM The DP is going to participate?
MZ Going to participate? No that is new as far as we know. As far as we were told by the PAC, which was sent to us, not the ANC, it was that it should be an exercise of the oppressed, they must actually meet so that we consolidate our demands against de Klerk. And then the question is how do you, if de Klerk is the man who has brought us where we are so far, if this was an exercise against PW Botha we would all join, this is what we are saying. Why we can be against de Klerk who has empowered even the ANC to ...
POM There have been a number of opinion surveys done that showed that a majority of people, both Africans and whites, would find some form of a coalition arrangement between the ANC and the NP to be satisfactory outcome to negotiations. Does that surprise you? Do you think it's true?
MZ You said the majority of black and white?
POM Black and white would find a coalition arrangement between the ANC and the NP with the ANC being the senior partner in the coalition and the NP the junior partner, an acceptable outcome.
MZ I don't believe this. I don't know how you can mix chalk and cheese as far as I can see. I think we are beyond the question of apartheid, I think what we are talking about now is what kind of policies each party is going to advance. The ANC has vowed that its alliance with the Communist Party is eternal as far as they are concerned. That's what Walter Sisulu has said, that's what he said at a recent conference, and therefore at the same time we hear NP senior spokespersons saying that they would not consider any kind of future alliance or coalition with the ANC as long as they have a partnership with the SA Communist Party.
POM So you think the polls are misreading public opinion or that the questions haven't been framed in the proper way?
MZ I think so yes.
POM How about the threat of the right wing? A year ago a lot was being made of the possibility that in a whites only election the Conservative Party might win a majority of white votes. This year you don't hear that much about that kind of threat. Do you think they are a threat, a growing threat or that organisations like the AWB are capable of mounting some incident but basically they're ...
MZ Well really I think that if you exclude you don't actually satisfy some or meet some of the demands of those right winger extremist groupings and if they have cause to believe that they have been totally left out of the political system then I believe that they have a very serious capability of destabilising this country, perhaps more serious than the threat of the ANC. But I don't think that they can win an election yet. I am not persuaded.
POM How do you think their demands might be met?
MZ Basically I think it depends on whether they would be prepared to join negotiations. If they would be prepared I am afraid that they would be persuaded to see that not all their demands can be met. One of their basic demands, for instance, is to have separate everything. I don't think that they could actually even get a separate ... given to them. For instance when they want specific Afrikaans language schools I think they can get that, they would have no problems.
POM Finally, do you think this process has now reached a point where it is irreversible? There's no going back to the old days?
MZ I don't think that there is any going back because if any leader in the NP attempted to do so I think that would be the end of it. That's what I think. But if the Conservatives were to win certainly I think they might try to reverse the process but I think the kind of forces that have been unleashed are such that it would be difficult for such a government to be able to govern.
POM OK. I'll leave it at that.