Inkatha funding scandal shakes de Klerk regime

July 31, 1991

By Norm Dixon

The long-held view of the African National Congress that the South African government, its army and police are behind the murderous Inkatha violence has now been proved beyond any doubt. Leaked official documents have revealed that millions of rands from secret government accounts were tossed Inkatha's way at the direct request of the police high command. The revelations have plunged the apartheid regime into crisis.

Documents leaked to the British Guardian and the South African Weekly Mail in mid-July confirm that big payments were deposited in Inkatha bank accounts by the political police. A payment of R150,000 (A$65,000) financed a rally in Durban in March 1990. In the week following the rally, Inkatha goons launched attacks which cost 160 lives and left 20,000 people homeless. Another payment was made to finance a rally in 1989.

The funding was recommended by the Durban security branch of the police. A memorandum to the minister for law and order, Adriaan Vlok, written by a Major Louis Botha after long meetings with Inkatha leader Chief Mangosuthu Gatsha Buthelezi, argued that Inkatha should be secretly funded to boost its falling membership and sagging popularity, and to combat the ANC's mass support.

Following the revelations, Vlok also admitted providing R1.75 million to Inkatha's trade union wing. Foreign minister Pik Botha, who only weeks before aggressively denied any funds had been given to Buthelezi, was forced to concede that he authorised the funds to be passed to Vlok.

A white parliamentarian, Kobus Jordaan of the liberal Democratic Party, told the press he has evidence that the government has paid out at least R5 million (A$2.2 million) to Inkatha and allied groups over recent years.

Known at the top

On July 23, the auditor-general revealed that de Klerk himself must have been aware of the payments: he is required to sign the final audit report for the hundreds of millions of rand set aside annually for covert operations by South Africa's security services. Since 1987, the government has spent over R1.5 billion (A$775 million) on secret projects, including funding the terrorist Renamo and UNITA armies in Mozambique and Angola and trying to prevent a SWAPO victory in the 1990 Namibian elections.

The ANC demanded the resignation of Vlok, Pik Botha and defence minister Magnus Malan. It is also demanding an independent judicial inquiry into secret spending. The call was backed by the

South African Council of Churches. De Klerk has refused to sack the ministers, fearing that he too will be directly implicated.

Newly elected ANC president Nelson Mandela said that beginning negotiations with the government was "out of the question" at this stage. "The ANC and the government clearly are on a collision course, and if the government continues with these criminal operations, it is doubtful we can avoid a complete breakdown in relations", Mandela added.

The ANC accused the government of continuing to rely on "covert operations, state murder squads, secret funds to corrupt and buy support and other dirty tricks." It said that the secret funding is "a clear indication that the de Klerk government has been pursuing a twin-track strategy of posing as committed to peace while waging war against the democratic movement, especially the ANC".

The scandal reinforces the ANC's demand for an elected constituent assembly to formulate a new constitution and for an all-party interim government in the meantime.

The Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) and the Azanian People's Organisation (Azapo) will join the ANC in a campaign of mass protests against the state-fostered violence.

Planned violence

Last year 2900 people were killed in the orgy of Inkatha and police violence. So far this year, more than 400 people have died. Collusion between the security forces and Inkatha has been widely reported and documented.

The aim of this violence is to discredit and weaken the ANC and boost Buthelezi, with whom the white minority regime favours an alliance, prior to constitutional negotiations. Such an alliance, the government hopes, would preserve white supremacy behind a non-racial facade.

The sinister actions of the government underline the need for international trade, financial and arms sanctions to be maintained until a genuinely democratic, non-racial constitution is in place.

Very few amongst the black majority ever doubted that the de Klerk government is deeply involved in fomenting violence and that Buthelezi is little more than a puppet of the regime. On July 24, a poll commissioned by the Johannesburg Star and Radio 702 found that 62% of those surveyed believe the police are biased against the black majority and a massive 80% do not believe Buthelezi's claim he knew nothing of the secret government funds given to his organisation.

Secret camps

The extent of government responsibility for the carnage was exposed in a report in the South African progressive weekly New Nation in June. A former South African Defence Force officer, Nico Basson, told New Nation that the SADF operates secret training camps hidden in game reserves.

"It was decided that black-on-black violence should be one of the strategies and a confrontation between Zulus and Xhosas should be encouraged because ... [they] constitute the two largest ethnic groups in the country", explained Basson.

"The army recruits people from outside South Africa — rebel [Renamo and UNITA] soldiers — and sends them to specific areas to start paramilitary units, protect hostels and start violence." Basson said these agents aimed to use terror to discourage the wearing of ANC T-shirts and other signs of support for the liberation movement and to promote Inkatha instead.

Evidence for an SADF link in the distribution of AK-47 rifles has also been uncovered by the Weekly Mail. Police and army often claim the ANC is the source of AK-47 rifles used in township violence and robberies. Attempting to discover the source of these weapons, a reporter bought an AK-47 for R1500 from "a firm and vociferous supporter of the Inkatha Freedom Party". One of the preconditions for the sale was that it would not fall into the hands of "comrades". A reporter for the Sowetan was able to buy a similar rifle for just R70. Both rifles originated in Mozambique.

A former SADF military intelligence clerk, Roland Hunter, who had been jailed for five years for passing military secrets to the ANC, has recently described how the SADF shipped thousands of AK-47s to Renamo forces in Mozambique. The rifles came from Romania, Bulgaria or Czechoslovakia via Israel.

Each month, up to 60 tons of AK-47s, ammunition, mortars and other equipment were supplied to guerillas fighting the Mozambican government. With the winding down of the civil war in Mozambique, these weapons are now being distributed to Inkatha fighters and SADF provocateurs.

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