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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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

Inkatha Yenkululeko Yesizwe (Inkatha Freedom Party) - IFP

Inkatha emerged from Inkatha yakwa Zulu, a cultural organisation established by the Zulu king, Solomon ka Dinuzulu, in 1928. The cultural movement ground to a halt after a few years, however. After failing to revive the movement in 1959, Dr Mangosuthu Buthelezi succeeded in doing so in March 1975, renaming it Inkatha Yenkululeko Yesizwe.

Shortly after its inception in September 1977, Inkatha already had more than 120 000 signed-up members. Over the years member-ship has grown steadily, and in 1985 the one million mark was reached. By the end of the eighties there were allegedly more than 1,5 million signed-up members, of which the youth brigade numbered 600 00o and the women's brigade 500 000. In some circles, however, these figures are disputed. Opinion polls have indicated that there is a discrepancy between the support for the organisation and the enormous claimed total of signed-up members. There is little support for the organisation among non-Zulus. There are even al-legations that Zulu chiefs force their subjects to join the organisation, using subtle and sometimes less subtle methods.

The close bond between the Kwa-Zulu legislative assembly and Inkatha works to the advantage of the latter. In a social awareness programme, Inkatha is promoted in schools, while it is alleged that only teachers who sup-port the organisation are employed. Inkatha is said to place enormous pressure on KwaZulu civil servants to become members (officials were not allowed to join the UDF). Kwa-Zulu doctors have to take an oath of loyalty to Buthelezi and the KwaZulu government. According to reports it is difficult to find work and accommodation in certain parts of Kwa-Zulu without an Inkatha membership card.

Inkatha's main aims are:

To foster the spirit of unity among the people of KwaZulu throughout South Africa, and between them and all their African brothers, and to keep alive and foster the traditions of the people.

To promote and encourage the development of the people of KwaZulu.

To establish contact and liaise with other cultural groups in southern Africa with a view to the creation of a common society.

To stamp out all forms of corruption, exploitation of man by man and intimidation.

To ensure acceptance of the principles of equal opportunity and treatment for all peoples in all walks of life.

To cooperate with any movement or organisation for the improvement of the condition of the people and to secure the most efficient production and equitable distribution of wealth of the nation in the best interests of the people.

To abolish all forms of discrimination and segregation based on tribe, clan, sex, colour or creed.

To promote and support worthy indigenous customs and cultures.

To ensure observance of the fundamental freedoms and human rights.

To inculcate and foster a vigorous consciousness of patriotism and a strong sense of national unity based on a common and individual loyalty and devotion to its members' land.

To cooperate locally and internationally with all progressive African and other nationalist movements and political parties which work for the complete eradication of all forms of colonialism, racialism, neo-colonialism, imperialism and discrimination and strive for the attainment of African unity.

Membership is open to all blacks over 18, giving Inkatha a broader base than would have been the case had it been a purely Zulu nationalist movement. (During the nineties this policy was broadened to include whites it is maintained that 'co 000 whites are already members of the Inkatha Freedom Party.) Financially, the organisation is exceptionally strong. Besides the membership fees, it also receives money from the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung of Germany. The Stiftung finances the Inkatha Institute, a research office of the organisation, and has a permanent representative in Natal. Israel also donated a large sum of money to help establish the youth wing.

Inkatha devotes itself to organising the youth, arranging youth pro-grammes on a large scale. The Inkatha youth brigade has in recent years assumed a paramilitary character. Members wear uniforms and take part in activities like marching. They receive training in a wide variety of practical courses, and are educated in politics. The organisation denies that it is paramilitaristic and says the so-called Youth Service Corps is used for "social reconstruction".

Inkatha's economic policy is based on a free-market system qualified by the requirement that the redistribution of the national wealth should be acknowledged. Buthelezi and other Inkatha leaders have often rejected disinvestment and sanctions as a mechanism of change, declaring that black workers would suffer most under an effective sanctions campaign. Inkatha's pro-capitalist view-point has won it the widespread sup-port of the Zulu business community. The organisation has been very successful in overcoming the problem of potential class distinctions and has managed to win the support of a large section of the working class.

Concern about the possibility that large numbers of Zulu workers might join the progressive Federation of South African Trade Unions (Fosatu) and its successor, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), led to the establishment of Inkatha's own trade union, United Workers' Union of South Africa (Uwusa), on May Day 1986. There is, however, doubt about Uwusa's popularity among the workers. Though it allegedly has 150 000 signed-up members, it has enjoyed little support among workers outside Natal.

In line with its policy of non-ethnicity, Inkatha also tried to make an impact on national politics by becoming involved in the South African Black Alliance (Saba), a loose association formed in 1978 between the Labour Party, the Reform Party, the Inyandza National Movement of KaNgwane, and, for a brief period, Qwaqwa's Dikwankwetla Party. After the Labour Party's decision at Eshowe in 1983 to participate in the tricameral parliamentary system, Saba was disbanded.

Inkatha's relationship with other black organisations, including exiled and legal groups within the country, has been tense. Inkatha took over the ANC symbols, the green, gold and black colours and Nkosi Sikele' iAfrika, in an effort to demonstrate its viability as successor to and sister organisation of the ANC. During 1978 and 1979 there was a remarkably close relationship between the ANC and Inkatha (as a university student Buthelezi was a member of the ANC). Subsequently the relationship between the two organisations rapidly deteriorated; by 1986 it was one of open antagonism. The breach probably occurred as a result of Buthelezi's strong opposition to the school boycotts in Natal and his rejection of the ANC's use of violence.

Unlike Inkatha and the ANC, Inkatha and the UDF never joined forces. Buthelezi declared that the UDF was a proxy organisation of the ANC and aimed to undermine Inkatha. The UDF in turn renounced Inkatha, accusing the organisation of being a government sympathizer (collaborator). Fighting broke out between supporters of the two groups in 1984/1985. Many people were killed in fighting at the University of Zululand, Lamontville and Inanda near Durban. There was conflict, too, between Azapo and Inkatha, though this never led to violence. By the end of the eighties the majority of the more than 4 000 deaths due to the political violence had occurred in Natal as a result of continuing clashes between UDF and Inkatha supporters. In 1989/1990 the violence was endemic: in 1988, 912 people were killed in Natal and in 1989/1990 more than t 000. While the state of emergency was lifted throughout the rest of the country in June 1990, it remained in force in Natal until October 1990. Although there is no single explanation for the violence, it seems that political antagonism between supporters of Inkatha and the UDF/ANC is the root cause.

Over the years Inkatha has held talks with numerous white parties and organisations. Buthelezi also undertook many new political initiatives: In 1980 the Buthelezi commission was appointed to investigate alternative political dispensations; the Kwa-Natal Indaba (a negotiation forum which investigated regional solutions) published its final report in 1986, breaking new political ground. Although the government rejected these initiatives, suggestions made at the Kwa-Natal Indaba were later partially implemented. The Joint Executive Authority for KwaZulu and Natal is a result of the Kwa-Natal Indaba. The rejection of the Indaba proposals upset Buthelezi to such an extent that he subsequently moved outside the reach of government plans and opposed the new National Statutory Council of P W Botha.

After F W de Klerk took over the leadership of the NP, Buthelezi's attitude towards the government underwent a marked change. His support for the principles of "real politics", ie to "gain maximum ad-vantage from the absence of viable alternatives", could be fully deployed. Buthelezi declared on many occasions on behalf of Inkatha that the organisation was prepared to participate in a negotiation process to establish a new constitution for South Africa.

In August 1990, at a congress at Ulundi attended by more than 12 000 people, Buthelezi, in anticipation of the competition and alliances of a possible new dispensation, trans-formed Inkatha into a political party, open to all races. The new party, the Inkatha Freedom Party, immediately positioned itself at the centre of the political spectrum by demanding a multi-party, non-racial democracy supported by a free-market system. According to Buthelezi the new party has to meet the following challenges:

The establishment of an open, free, non-racial reconciliatory society with built-in democratic safeguards for all people.

The utilization of the country's re-sources to fight hunger, poverty, unemployment, illness and ignorance.

The redistribution of the country's wealth, and the creation of political and economic structures to encourage entrepreneurship for the creation of new wealth.

The creation of a stable, peaceful society so that all people can aspire to happiness and realize their full potential.

In early December 1990 the Inkatha Freedom Party held a special general congress in Ulundi, Natal. The more than 20 000 supporters unanimously re-elected Mangosuthu Buthelezi as leader, and Dr Frank Mdlalose as national chairman. The mass campaigns of the ANC were strongly rejected by the congress, and they re-quested that a "large-scale peace pact" be entered into by all political parties in South Africa to oppose violence.

Inkatha has blamed the ANC for much of the violence in South Africa, and rejects allegations of collusion between Inkatha and the security forces. At the congress and on numerous later occasions, Buthelezi op-posed the formation of a constituent assembly as requested by the PAC, ANC and other organisations. Ac-cording to him, this would lead to a transfer of power to blacks which would elicit a strong reaction from whites. Although Buthelezi was also sceptical about the ANC's suggestion in January 1991 to hold a multi-party conference, he indicated that he would be willing to participate.

Buthelezi also extended a hand of friendship to the ANC, but added that he would oppose any attempts by the ANC to impose its policy on Inkatha. There was a marked increase in the support for the IFP during 1990 and 1991. While intimidation politics could possibly have played a role in the increase, another important factor is the broad South Africanism for which the IFP stands.

Any organisation such as Inkatha which can boast nearly two mil-lion members will remain an important factor in South African politics.

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. Return to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory site.