Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi.
 Picture: Sibonelo Ngcobo/ANA
Durban - The SACP was “grossly irresponsible” and had “crossed the line” by bringing ethnicity and tribalism into the current political confusion, IFP leader Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi told the Daily News on Wednesday.

He was reacting to a statement circulated by the SACP on Tuesday which claimed that President Jacob Zuma had called on “tribalism and ethnic mobilisation” to save his skin.

The statement has since been rubbished by the ANC.

The SACP statement “condemned tribalism and ethnic mobilisation”, including that of amabutho (Zulu regiments), as part of Zuma’s plan to “continue overstaying his welcome in office”.

“The SACP reiterates its decision for President Zuma to resign and for the ANC to recall him if he remains intransigent by refusing to resign.

“President Zuma’s conduct is reckless and unacceptable. The SACP is calling on all South Africans to unite in defence of our country and not allow him to go down with our hard-won democracy,” read the statement.

Buthelezi, the Prime Minister of the Zulu nation and chief of the amabutho, said there was no substance to the SACP’s claim.

“This is an indication that relations in the alliance have reached rock-bottom and this statement is not conciliatory.

“In my public life spanning 60 years, I really don’t remember my country landing in a situation like this. I’m afraid we are losing focus instead of guarding against excitement and crossing the line.

“I don’t think ethnicity and tribalism fit in the current chaos as bringing these up was not in the best interests of the nation,” Buthelezi said.

He said it was almost criminal for the SACP to make such accusations, and warned against bringing the monarch into political affairs.

He said he would have known if the allegations about amabutho mobilising were true.

“As far as I’m concerned, no Zulu warriors are involved in an individual’s campaign because this is a South African issue,” he said.

He said the postponement of the State of the Nation address was a “very good” decision regardless of individuals who wanted to be in the limelight as the victors in the current “fragile” political landscape.

Friends

About the recent meeting between Zuma and Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini, Buthelezi said the two were known to be friends.

Soon after the release of the statement by the SACP, the Presidency called the allegations “preposterous, outrageous, completely baseless and without foundation”.

In a statement on Wednesday, Ramaphosa said he had met Zuma on Tuesday and begun direct discussions on the transition and matters relating to the latter’s position as the president of the republic.

He said the discussions were constructive and laid the basis for a speedy resolution of the matter in the interests of the country and its people. The two would continue the discussions and report to the ANC and the country in the coming days, the statement said.

“I am aware that the uncertainty surrounding the position of the head of state and government is a cause for concern among many South Africans. This is understandable. However, I am certain that the process we have embarked on will achieve an outcome that not only addresses these concerns, but also unites our people around the tasks that all of us must necessarily undertake to build our country.

“We will be able to communicate further on President Zuma’s position as president of the republic once we have finalised all pertinent matters,” Ramaphosa said.

Professor Nogwaja Zulu, an expert in cultural and socio-linguistic matters at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, concurred with Buthelezi that the SACP’s statement was “provocative and dangerous”.

“You can’t bring tribalism and ethnicity into the current political climate. They (SACP) were just trying to scare the people and this was reckless,” Zulu said.

Political analyst Dr Somadoda Fikeni said the SACP’s statement would not have made any difference even if the sentiments had come from within the ANC.

He said the statement was a cry by the SACP for inclusion in consultation and discussions.

“They feel out of place now that they don’t have people in the upper level of government structures.

“Zuma’s retreat to KwaZulu-Natal whenever he was under attack has led to individuals in the public domain easily accepting the SACP’s statement,” Fikeni said.

Ideologically, he said, the SACP did not respect tribal authority.

Daily News