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The Making of History!

20 March 1996

On December 17th, 1997, at the University of the North West, Mafikeng, history was made when the IFP delegation, led by Dr. Lionel Mtshali, attended the opening session of the historic 50th ANC National Conference, to a rousing applause of the ANC`s approximately 4000 delegates.

Three months later, in March 1998, the IFP Youth Brigade sent a high level delegation of its National Chairperson and Secretary, Mr. Mntomuhle Khawula and Mr. Otto Kunene respectively, to the 20th National Congress of the ANCYL at the World Trade Centre, Johannesburg. Again, to the rousing applause of the more than 2000 ANCYL delegates.

In July 1998, history was once more made when the ANC President, Comrade Thabo Mbeki, addressed a packed opening session of the IFP`s Annual National Conference, thus being the first ANC leader to address an IFP gathering of the significance of Conference.

In September of the same year, the ANCYL President led the ANCYL delegation to what will now be an historic 20th Annual National Conference of the IFP Youth Brigade at Emandleni-Matleng, Ulundi-a Young Lion at the conference of the Young Elephants.

The question does arise: what is the significance of all this, what do all these events signal and mark?

Surely, all will agree that we, South Africans, are witness to history being made. These events, taken together with other initiatives which include discussions between the ANC and IFP Presidents; and between the ANC and IFP in KZN; the new spirit of co-operation in governing the country and many other initiatives unsung about, we are quickly transcending to an era where political violence and conflict shall become a thing of the past.

This may sound a bit ironical and rather idealistic, cynics will say, considering the political violence and conflict in Richmond which has already resulted in the killing of hundreds of people; and considering the stance of the ANC on the question of any "peace" talks with the UDM.

However, the Richmond situation differs drastically. In Richmond we are dealing with the vultures preying on the carcasses of our people, criminals trying to rise to political relevance and prominence through blood and murder. The only solution to the Richmond crisis is the President Mandela option: descend heavily on these criminals and murderers ! And, it works !

Secondly, we argue that even those within the ANC and IFP who clearly do not want peace, who spend sleepless nights plotting its abortion, because the attainment of peace means their political extinction, these too must be brought to account. At best, our organisations must isolate them and remove them from their ranks !

Some of those who are cynical about this include parties of minority privilege, which are threatened by the agenda of the maximum unity of black people, which want anything but black majority rule; and hence will do everything in their power to see a divided black people, who remain in the status of being poor and underprivileged.

However, contrary to their wishes, the process of re-defining the relations between the ANC and IFP is continuing, and has really gained an unprecedented momentum.

Who would, two years ago, have thought it possible for the IFP and ANC to exchange delegations to each other`s conferences? Certainly, I would never have thought it possible, let alone wise, to go to Emandleni-Matleng attending an IFP conference.

Indeed, at some point in 1992 I was one of those who were over-zealous about a march on Ulundi. This time, my chance came, but the nature, character, objective and tone of the march was now drastically different.

The historic significance of these occurrences between the ANC and IFP, and their youth organisations, is that the climate and condition for free political activity, political co-operation (between these organisations and their people), and peaceful co-existence can now be attained.

Accordingly, and most significantly, a programme for fundamental social transformation which was launched with the 1994 elections can now gain an increased momentum.

These new relations being forged between the ANC and IFP must only be premised on the single most urgent and important objective; the achievement of the fundamental and genuine social and economic emancipation of black people in general, and Africans in particular. The creation of a better life for these people is our most principal task.

Clearly, conditions of violence, conflict and lack of co-operation undermine this fundamental objective for national liberation for which the ANC was formed in 1912, because of which the founders of this organisation argued that the demon of tribalism must be buried forever, and proceeded to seek the most maximum unity of all black people in order to marshal them properly in the struggle against national oppression. This will further undermine this programme of creating a better life for all.

More than any other black organisation, the IFP has shown unique consistency since it joined the GNU. It has co-operated with the ANC, constructively criticised it and has been part of the proper governance of this country. It has refused to align itself with the parties of minority privilege, and has seen itself, as Dr. Buthelezi stated at the IFP Annual Conference, as part of the system and process of governance in South Africa, not just the opposition.

Can the same be said of the PAC? Does anyone still believe, except the most naive and stupid, that the PAC is committed to the unity of those still yawning for a decisive improvement in the quality of their lives? Is it still committed to the genuine and fundamental social and economic emancipation of the black people in general, and Africans in particular? Was it ever?

Certainly, its recent history attests to the opposite. Remember that in 1995 the PAC aligned itself with right-wing parties led by the NP to oppose in the Constitutional Court the passing of the South African Schools bill intended to end Bantu Education and introduce People`s Education ? Like the right-wing parties, it, through Patricia De Lille, accused prominent anti-apartheid fighters, people who occupied many forward trenches, and on countless occasions walked in the shadows of death itself, of having been apartheid era spies.

It has done it again, forging an alliance with the most reactionary, counter-revolutionary and backward parties of white privilege, the DP and FF. What more can the PAC surprise us with ?

Unlike the IFP, and I sincerely shudder the comparison, the PAC has truly been consistently reactionary and backward in its approach to majority rule. Probably because it contributed very little to the struggle against apartheid, and is a genuine flat tyre !

The youth of the ANC and IFP have an unprecedented responsibility. They live in an era of a vast social and economic revolution. They are part of history being made, are active agents of the making of that history, and are also active architects for a better life !

The creation of this better life is about reclaiming our country and decisively ending white minority domination in many spheres of life. If we failed to jointly tackle this problem, future generations will accuse us, justifiably, of having been accomplices and contrived in the continued condition for this domination.

Consequently, we must seize the moment and build a giant future for our people, the youth in particular. What we do today has a direct bearing on our future. For this reason, co-operation between the ANCYL and IFPYB is an urgent matter, for which we must attach high significance and place high on our agenda.

Jointly, we must tackle the HIV/AIDS epidemic and crime, and co-operate in the promotion of nation-building, education and training, youth development and employment creation for young people, through, among others, the national youth service programme.

I know that the youth of the IFP share these ideals. I know that they too believe that a nation that does not value its youth does not deserve its future, but also that the youth that do not value their nation do not deserve a future !

Malusi Gigaba