President of the Inkatha Freedom Party Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi. Picture: Sibusiso Ndlovu/African News Agency (ANA)

Durban - Once political foes but now brothers as old age creeps in, the leader of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) Inkosi Mangosuthu Buthelezi, has lauded Meshack Radebe for the role he played in ending the political violence that ravaged the township of Hammarsdale in the late 80s and early 90s.

Speaking as a guest speaker at Radebe’s 70th birthday party held in Maqongqo, Pietermaritzburg on Saturday, Buthelezi said the former MEC was taught by his late father that reconciliation was key to overcoming political differences. 

He said during the brutal people’s war that raged in the country ibrother was pitted against brothers and there was a great deal of bloodshed particularly in KZN and in what was then known as the Witwatersrand. 

“In Hammarsdale, black-on-black violence was rife and while several attempts had been made to restore peace, they had failed. The leadership of the ANC-in-exile then commissioned Mr Meshack Radebe as its representative, and Inkatha commissioned Mr Sipho Mlaba. The peace they negotiated was recognised with the awarding of a doctorate to Mr Radebe by the University of Natal. 

“I cannot pay tribute to Dr Radebe without mentioning this important aspect of history. Our two parties knew at that point that the crisis of violence needed to be overcome, and the only hope was the normalising of political relations,” Buthelezi said.

Turning to the prevailing economic woes of the country, Buthelezi said the country is no longer facing a crisis of political violence but an economic one.

He said everyone should wake up and sit up when the national treasury predicts a situation where everything collapses.

“In a situation like this, the normalising of political relations, particularly in this Province, becomes urgent once again. We believe in a strong multi-party democracy, but we also know that we need to prioritise the present crisis over political differences. It is for this reason that the IFP still seeks reconciliation with the ANC, even now, 25 years into democracy.” 

Political Bureau