Buthelezi tells Phoenix residents he is a ’Zulu Indian’ as campaign unfolds
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Durban - IFP President Emeritus Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi arrived in Phoenix with a message of peace and hope telling supporters that he had spent a lifetime working for social cohesion.
“When I come here today, I come as someone who has spent a lifetime working for social cohesion, equality and peace,” he said.
Buthelezi is on the campaign trail as the country prepares to cast their votes in the local government elections on November 1.
Phoenix has been a key area to campaign as political parties descended on the suburb, north of Durban, to convey messages of unity.
The area was affected by violence during the July unrest. A total of 42 people are standing trial for the murder of victims in the area.
The DA came under fire after it put up posters in Phoenix, which read “The ANC called you racists” and “The DA calls you heroes”, and were slammed with claims that they referred to the murder of 36 black South Africans in Phoenix during the civil unrest that engulfed KwaZulu-Natal and parts of Gauteng in July. After a huge uproar, the posters were taken down by the party last week.
Now, the IFP has come into the area with posters reading, “Real heroes unite communities”.
Buthelezi also said there was a debate raging in Phoenix currently about heroes and racists and it was a debate that sought to divide and use scare tactics and hatred to pit South Africans against one another.
“I know how much propaganda is involved, as I myself became a victim of propaganda on social media when I publicly praised the community of Phoenix for standing against lawlessness and destruction. Hand-in-hand with senior IFP leaders, you were doing here what I was doing with IFP leaders in my own community in Ulundi.
“You were protecting homes and protecting businesses. You were staying up through the night, patrolling the streets and ensuring that looters did not run rampant.
“All of this was being done in close co-operation with law enforcement and within the bounds of the law. I thanked you then, and I thank you now because I know that countless citizens stood up for law and order. Because of you, livelihoods were protected and lives were saved.
“But days later, when a few vigilantes began acting outside the law and lives began to be lost, someone took the clip of me thanking you and placed it on Facebook above the image of chaos in the streets of Phoenix. Above the image of a body lying in the street, was me applauding the Indian community. It was made to look as though I supported vigilantism, and the floodgates of hatred opened against me.
“Hundreds of social media posts wished a slow and painful death on Buthelezi. All manner of expletives and insults were hurled at me, as people questioned how I could be so racist against my own people. But it was all manufactured. It was all lies. It was intended not only to damage my reputation but to spark greater hatred between Indians and blacks; because I am known as a Zulu Indian. I refused to take the bait.”
Buthelezi said the most important task was to restore peace between the people, to restore unity and social cohesion. He said he knew how quickly violence descends into retaliatory attacks and bloodshed and so he called on everyone to act within the law and to desist from vigilantism
“The focus needs to shift away from the few to the many who are working to save South Africa. The debate needs to change. The dichotomy between racists and heroes is wrong. Heroes are not people who take the law into their own hands. Real heroes unite communities. Real heroes restore peace. And within the communities of Phoenix, KwaMashu, Chatsworth, Bambayi and elsewhere, there are millions of real heroes. I am here today to speak to the real heroes because you are the ones who will save this country. You are the ones holding government to account for failing to fulfil its promises,” he said.
Buthelezi told supporters that he spent 70 years pursuing these ideals and has fought every attempt to divide communities.