Zulu Chief Mangosuthu Gatsha Buthelezi on Saturday challenged the African National Congress for the leadership of South Africa’s 25 million blacks in what could develop into a major black-versus-black confrontation.
Even before Buthelezi spoke here, four people were killed and five others, including a 3-year old girl, were seriously injured in fierce fighting Saturday morning between his supporters and those of the African National Congress in neighboring Lamontville, outside Durban on the Indian Ocean coast. Two more were killed and seven injured Saturday afternoon in what appeared to be a revenge attack by the Buthelezi supporters for the earlier deaths.
Two men were killed elsewhere in the country, according to police headquarters in Pretoria, bringing the death toll in Saturday’s unrest to eight.
Further clashes appeared likely in the Durban area after Buthelezi, chief minister of the Zulu tribal homeland as well as president of Inkatha, the largest black political group in the country, brought the increasingly bitter feud fully into the open and made clear his intention to challenge the congress’ claim to represent most of South Africa’s disfranchised blacks.
“The African National Congress has now openly declared war on Inkatha,” Buthelezi said, referring to his 1.1-million member, predominantly Zulu Inkatha political movement, “and, in fact, it has ordered my assassination.”
The fighting between supporters of Buthelezi and those of the African National Congress broke out when Inkatha members traveling to the rally clashed with residents of Lamontville, where Buthelezi is strongly opposed. Three men were stabbed to death, according to police, and a fourth was stoned to death and set alight in the street.
As Buthelezi spoke, three busloads of Zulu warriors, all armed with spears and many in tribal dress of animal skins, descended upon Lamontville and attacked residents of the neighborhood where the Inkatha members had died earlier. At least two more persons, one of them from Inkatha, were killed before police managed to stop the skirmish and get the Inkatha group to leave.
More than 70 people were killed in Durban last month in violence that Inkatha and the United Democratic Front, a coalition of anti-apartheid groups, have blamed on each other, and Saturday’s deaths aroused fears of a wave of reprisals in Umlazi, Lamontville and other black townships around Durban.
“We demand that you now cease pitting black against black,” Buthelezi said, in a call to Oliver Tambo, president of the African National Congress. “We demand that you now cease sowing the seeds of a black-against-black civil war, which would destroy the soul of black South Africa. If, however, you mean to drop a gauntlet, we will pick it up immediately.”
In an action apparently meant to embarrass Buthelezi, congress guerrillas had planted four bombs in downtown Durban stores Friday evening in a show of the underground organization’s strength in his home territory. Three exploded within minutes of each other, causing limited damage and no injuries, and the fourth was found before it was detonated.
Buthelezi, dressed in the leopard skins of a Zulu chief, spoke at a rally of 15,000 Zulus marking the death of the great 19th-Century Zulu king, Shaka; and his warnings to the African National Congress, the United Democratic Front and other political rivals drew an angry rumble, a rattling of spears from the Zulu warriors here and then the traditional Zulu war cry, “Usuthu!”
Zulu King Adds Warning
King Goodwill Zwelithini, the present Zulu king and Buthelezi’s nephew, added his own warning to the African National Congress, most of whose leaders are in exile. “They have been out of the country too long and have forgotten what kind of a people we are,” he said. “Let me tell them as king of the Zulus that if they came here today, the people would hiss and then usuthu would rise as a cry from tens of thousands of throats and they would be driven out. . . .
“We will not be divided. The (congress leadership abroad) must know that it will never succeed in driving a wedge between the people of this region and their chosen leaders whom they are prepared to defend even if it means dying to do so.”
In Johannesburg, the United Democratic Front accused Inkatha of “collaborating with the security forces and unleashing a reign of terror” in the country’s black ghettos, particularly those around Durban. This “belies some of its leaders’ hollow commitment to peace and justice,” the organization said in a statement.
In his bid for leadership of the country’s blacks, Buthelezi said the main issue is what strategy they should pursue in their struggle to end apartheid. He advocates political negotiation and, while opposing apartheid, working from within with what power he has as chief minister of the Kwazulu homeland. The African National Congress, however, remains committed to armed struggle and has called upon blacks to make the country “ungovernable” through their continuing protests against apartheid.
Seeks Broader Base
Buthelezi, although scorned by many blacks as a collaborator of the minority white regime because of his position as chief minister of Kwazulu, has been trying in the past six months to broaden his political base beyond the 6 million Zulus and to appeal to other black tribal groups, to the emerging black middle class in the cities and to whites, where he is developing considerable respect as a black leader of stature and moderation.
“The fundamental difference in approach between Inkatha and the African National Congress revolves around the use of violence,” he said. “The ANC has declared the armed struggle as the primary means of bringing about change in our country. . . . I say no because the so-called armed struggle has been a dismal failure for 25 years, and I see it as senseless to go on repeating that dismal failure for another 25 years.”
Without sanctuaries for its guerrillas in neighboring countries and arms for blacks in South Africa itself, Buthelezi said, the African National Congress cannot hope to defeat the strongest regime on the African continent.
The civil unrest, encouraged by the African National Congress as the start of a “people’s war” against the minority white government, is turning black against black, Buthelezi continued, with political killings now commonplace. “The black struggle for liberation is being eroded from within black ranks by those who want to destroy the democratic forces we have built up after so many generations of suffering,” Buthelezi said. “Black is now taking to killing blacks for political purposes, and the black-on-black confrontation is surpassing those between blacks and the police and security forces.”
‘Politics of Negotiation’
But his own efforts to bring change through “the politics of negotiation” are succeeding, he contended, noting that the government of President Pieter W. Botha is under mounting pressure from liberal white opposition parties, from most of the country’s churches, from a large segment of business, from labor unions and other groups to end apartheid. “We are succeeding where they have failed,” Buthelezi said. “We are proving that waging the armed struggle now is premature. We are proving that the time for an armed struggle has not yet arrived. That is why we are being attacked in every possible way by the African National Congress and why they have ordered my execution.”