Versions of Resistance History in South Africa: The ANC Strand in Inkatha in the 1970s and 1980s

An essential aspect to understanding the conflict of the 1980s and 1990s in KwaZulu-Natal is the complex and changing relationship between the ANC and Inkatha, now the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), in the 1970s and early 1980s. This article examines the ways in which the Inkatha leadership (especially Mangosuthu Buthelezi) employed the ANC tradition as a symbol of organized resistance to white minority rule in South Africa. The potency of the ANC as symbol lay in its position as liberation movement in the struggle against racist oppression. Inkatha leadership struggled, after its formation in 1975, to lay claim to the tradition offered by ANC resistance politics since 1912, claiming that it represented the true ANC. Inkatha interpreted the ANC’s history in such a way to justify its own strategies of negotiating politics and working within the system, while simultaneously rejecting the ANC strategy of armed struggle and isolation of the apartheid State. It can be argued that Inkatha had a measure of success in using the ANC tradition, not only because Inkatha reflected genuine aspects of the positions articulated by the founding fathers of the ANC, but also because the racial populist, or African nationalist strain that is to be found in both the old ANC as well as in Inkatha denied divisions within the constituency to whom it appealed. Ultimately Inkatha’s hijacking of the ANC as symbol of resistance failed, largely through its structural involvement in the apartheid system and because of its contradictory strand of regional ethnic populism. Bibliogr., sum.

Title: Versions of Resistance History in South Africa: The ANC Strand in Inkatha in the 1970s and 1980s
Author: Mare, Gerhard
Year: 2000
Periodical: Review of African Political Economy
Volume: 27
Issue: 83
Period: March
Pages: 63-79
Language: English
Geographic term: South Africa
External links: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/03056240008704433
http://ejournals.ebsco.com/direct.asp?ArticleID=460CA01CF72A81E66E0A
Abstract: An essential aspect to understanding the conflict of the 1980s and 1990s in KwaZulu-Natal is the complex and changing relationship between the ANC and Inkatha, now the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), in the 1970s and early 1980s. This article examines the ways in which the Inkatha leadership (especially Mangosuthu Buthelezi) employed the ANC tradition as a symbol of organized resistance to white minority rule in South Africa. The potency of the ANC as symbol lay in its position as liberation movement in the struggle against racist oppression. Inkatha leadership struggled, after its formation in 1975, to lay claim to the tradition offered by ANC resistance politics since 1912, claiming that it represented the true ANC. Inkatha interpreted the ANC’s history in such a way to justify its own strategies of negotiating politics and working within the system, while simultaneously rejecting the ANC strategy of armed struggle and isolation of the apartheid State. It can be argued that Inkatha had a measure of success in using the ANC tradition, not only because Inkatha reflected genuine aspects of the positions articulated by the founding fathers of the ANC, but also because the racial populist, or African nationalist strain that is to be found in both the old ANC as well as in Inkatha denied divisions within the constituency to whom it appealed. Ultimately Inkatha’s hijacking of the ANC as symbol of resistance failed, largely through its structural involvement in the apartheid system and because of its contradictory strand of regional ethnic populism. Bibliogr., sum.