A Voice of Sanity in South Africa
A Voice of Sanity in South Africa

A Voice of Sanity in South Africa

January 1 st 1987

When Zulu leader Chief Mangosuthu G. Buthelezi spoke at a recent luncheon meeting attended by some 700 people in Toronto, he was greeted by demonstrators who described him as a traitor and murderer. One chanting protestor wore a mask of Buthelezi and a rubber tire around his neck. It was a chilling reminder of the deadly reality of politics in South Africa.

Buthelezi's speech contrasted sharply with the revolutionary sloganeering of the protestors outside the Hilton hotel. No friend of apartheid, Buthelezi has steadfastly opposed the South African government and has refused to settle for anything less than full recognition of the citizenship of all people in South Africa.

There is good reason to believe that Buthelezi is indispensable to a peaceful settlement of the tensions in South Africa. Buthelezi has advocated a merger of Natal province and the Kwalulu homeland, and the establishment of a bicameral legislature. The first chamber would be elected on the basis of one person, one vote, which would amount to black majority. The second chamber, however, would consist of representatives of the various minorities, who would have veto power over laws affecting language, religion and culture. It seems that some such compromise is preferable to any other alternative.

In his Toronto speech, Chief Buthelezi stressed that the elimination of apartheid is not enough. The struggle is more than a struggle against unjust laws, he said, it is one to establish a legislature which can make just laws. For this reason, he rejects the revolutionary option of the African National Congress, claiming that its members do not aspire to establish a multi-party democracy but to establish their own brand of tyranny. The African National Congress, warned Buthelezi, "wants to establish a one-party state and it wants to establish a socialist-controlled economy."

The current strategy of the ANC revolutionaries is to create as much political and economic havoc as possible in order to destabilize the present order and clear the way for them to take power. They therefore support the destruction of the South African economy through, for example, sanctions and disinvestment. According to Buthelezi, "sanctions may be a very effective way for the West to make moral statements, but moral statements in the West will not suffice to balance the scales of revolution versus negotiation in South Africa." He explained: "Sanctions will radicalize what is already a very volatile South African situation. Sanctions will work to radicalize Black politics and this is precisely why the more revolutionary a Black South African, the more fervently he calls for sanctions. For revolutionaries, the application of sanctions is not the last step in non-violent action. It is a first step towards violent action. Deepening poverty suits the revolutionaries. It undermines non-violent, democratic opposition to apartheid."

If the West neglects to heed the moderate and sensible advice from this spokesman of the largest single black race in South Africa, it will be coresponsible for the bloodshed sure to follow the ANC's alternative.

Harry Antonides
Harry Antonides

Harry Antonides came to Canada in 1948, initially working as a farm hand and railway labourer. After over a decade working in a chemical plant in Sarnia, Ontario, Harry joined the newly forming Christian Labour Association of Canada (CLAC) in 1962 as a field representative. By 1970 Harry became director of research and education. In 1974, he was a founding member of the Work Research Foundation (now Cardus) and publisher of their sole publication, Comment magazine. A prolific writer and dynamic speaker, Harry delivered lectures all over North America and published numerous articles, reviews, and essays. He is author of several books on Christianity, labour, and economics, including Multinationals and the Peacable Kingdom (1978) and Stones for Bread: The Social Gospel and its Contemporary Legacy (1985). Harry is retired and lives with his wife Janet in Willowdale, Ontario.


Download and Share Articles From The Comment Reader

An introduction to Public Theology for the Common Good

Want more of the same fresh, thought-provoking content delivered right to your inbox once a week?