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Voices

No regret about signing with Schwarz

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Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP, President of the Inkatha Freedom Party

I had the greatest respect for Mr Schwarz, not least because of the hardship of his childhood which led him to South Africa. Once here, he poured himself into the work of transforming our country and, in so doing, left an indelible mark on South Africa’s history. His intelligence, talent and natural bent for politics made him a great activist.

I admired his integrity and vision, and the courage it took to join me in 1974 in signing the Mahlabathini Declaration. He was always a man to act on his conscience.

The declaration was significant because it was the first agreement signed between black and white political leaders in South Africa that committed to underpinning principles for a negotiated settlement. It was a blueprint for racial peace.

I accepted Mr Schwarz’s integrity even though one of my liberal friends kept on trying to warn me not to do so. In retrospect, I have no regret about having signed the Mahlabathini Declaration with Mr Schwarz. In fact, the pen we used in signing it is lost amongst so many pens and things amongst my possessions. I used to come across it until recently.

We agreed in the declaration on the importance of material and educational advancement, consultation in constitutional planning, a federal system, the safeguarding of cultures, and a bill of rights. We also committed to pursue political change through non-violent means.

The following year, I established Inkatha yeNkululeko yeSizwe, which subscribed to these very principles.

 

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