May 26, 2005

Buthelezi cautioned over “national interests”

Ethnicity was among the issues raised during the president's budget vote, with President Thabo Mbeki cautioning that fault lines could emerge and generate conflicts that the country did not need. The president referred to attempts to mobilise Afrikaners on the basis that the democratic order was focused on denying them their identity and legitimate rights. He also referred to attempts to mobilise Zulus "on the false basis that they share so-called national interests different from the interests of other citizens". Mbeki said these attempts "reflect and seek to exploit the class and nationality fault lines we inherited from our past which, if ever they took root, gaining genuine popular support, would pose a threat to the stability of a democratic South Africa".
In reference to the recent Zulu imbizo called by IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi, Deputy President Jacob Zuma also waded in. "In the hurly burly of politics, claims are often made that this government is seeking to destroy or undermine traditional leadership as an institution, and the Zulu kingdom in particular," he told MPs. Zuma said that "there are political parties that present their views and issues in a manner that makes it difficult to distinguish whether the issues raised are those of the party or traditional leaders, for example, in KwaZulu-Natal". The matter was compounded when traditional leaders were also leaders of political parties, he said. (Argus, Pretoria)


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