What Buthelezi said

Staff Writer | Sep 09, 2019
‘I must speak very bluntly to my fellow South Africans, not to take sides, but to quell the tensions with the voice of truth,’ former Inkatha Freedom Party leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi said in Jeppestown yesterday.

Buthelezi said the violence of recent days was ‘unacceptable’ and, should it continue, would have far-reaching ‘diplomatic and economic ramifications’.

He said: ‘I come here today not as a politician, but as an elder. There is a terrible quarrel in our nation with foreign nationals who are living amongst us. Lives have been lost and property damaged. There has been looting and burning and violence. While all this is happening, the world is watching, and we are being judged.

‘I must speak very bluntly to my fellow South Africans, not to take sides, but to quell the tensions with the voice of truth.

‘What we have seen in the past few days is unacceptable. The attacks on foreign nationals and their businesses are purely xenophobic. It is a violation of human rights and a violation of our Constitution. Our Constitution enshrines the right to freedom from all forms of violence. That right applies to everyone in South Africa, whether citizens or not.’

Buthelezi said he understood ‘the tensions, the complaints and the anger. I understand that there is validity to the complaints, on both sides. I also understand that wrongs have been committed by both sides. This has not come out of nowhere.’

But he added: ‘Even where there are valid complaints against an individual, we cannot take the law into our own hands. Looting and destruction of property is a crime, full stop. Assault is always wrong.’

He warned: ‘Don’t think these things have no consequences. This violence has diplomatic and economic ramifications. We have hundreds of thousands of South Africans living in countries throughout Africa. We have businesses and companies operating across this continent. We have vital trade relations within the African Union and within SADC, the Southern African Development Community. South Africa is not an island.’

Buthelezi asked: ‘Do we really want (this) to escalate into international conflict?’

He said the violence had left him feeling ‘ashamed’.

‘As Africans we are making ourselves a laughing stock in the rest of the world. Because the world knows what we seem so quick to forget: Africans are brothers and sisters.’

Later in his address, he said: ‘African countries like Lesotho, Swaziland, Nigeria, Zambia and Tanzania took huge risks on our behalf. Is this how we repay them?

‘I am not saying that anyone should be able to live in South Africa if they come here illegally, or if they are illegally running a business. If they are committing crime, they are criminals like any South African would be a criminal for doing the same thing. But we cannot adopt the attitude that Africans have no right to come here, and no right to be here, if they come through legitimate channels.’

 

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