The Inkatha Freedom Party

The goals of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) can be understood best by understanding the group’s criticism of the prevalent ANC politic. At the core of the IFP’s ideology is the belief in a multiparty and free democracy, a political culture in which dissension and varying opinion, where “people must be free to choose, [where] they must be free to differ” (383) are hallmarks of the system. This is in contrast to the ANC, which the IFP claims used intimidation tactics, international pandering, divisive, “us or them” language, and violence to create a climate of obedient servitude to the party platform (384). Furthermore, the IFP seeks to include minority voices in the political discourse rather than exclude them, avoiding the creation of a one party state and the bifurcation of the black community into pro and anti ANC camps; for the IFP, the political reality is nuanced by shades of gray rather than the absolute factionalism of ANC rhetoric (384).

The IFP protested the ANC practice of creating quasi-governmental documents which are fraudulently represented as being the voice of the people during ANC-government negotiations, such as the Harare Declaration. For the IFP, which favored true democratic representation, this process disenfranchised a silent majority of the population and arrogantly assumed that all Africans are aligned with the ANC’s politics while the case was such that it was a “party among parties,” not the singular voice of the African people (385). While the IFP sought a policy of conciliation with the white government, and an open-ended political process involving the participation of all parties, including the National Party, the ANC had adopted a hostile philosophy of exclusion and so plunged the townships and urban centers into disastrous orgies of violence (385). Central to the strife in the streets is the ANC’s endorsement of terrorism, regime overthrow and armed resistance against black “collaborators” and white government officials through its armed branch the ‘Spear of the People’ (386), while it simultaneously and hypocritically seeks to engage in more deliberate political discourse through quasilegal and diplomatic channels. The IFP, in contrast, calls for the free operation of democracy to decide the future of the country, and cooperation with the white government to arrive at a more amenable rather than divided future (386-388). While the IFP hopes to gradually and peacefully transfer power from a white minority to a broad democratic multiparty system, it understands the degree of white power and influence, and so has decided to temper its resolve with respect for the National Party hegemony (389-390). This is in great contrast to the ANC, which called for the humiliating surrender of white power and the general primacy of their body politic (389), invoking the wrath of a white backlash, and so devastating the black community.

While the IFP suspected that if the ANC came to power it would oppress dissenting opinion and minorities in the same fashion the Soviets were then doing in Europe (385), the inauguration speech of Nelson Mandela hinted at a more magnanimous and cosmopolitan administration. Rather than relive the errors and monstrous injustices of the past through a different type of tyranny, of the majority, Mandela pledged instead to call for renewal and respite, “to bridge the chasms that divide” and to focus on the “healing of wounds.” (398) While the IFP feared the domination of the ANC politic, Mandela appeared to have wisely chosen a more subtle and encompassing stance, forgiving his previous oppressors and those who he considered collaborationists, urging that the people of South Africa must “therefore act together as a united people, for national reconciliation, for nation building, for the birth of a new world” (398).

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