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The decline of Zulu nationalism as a defining feature of IFP policy, 1994-1997.

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This thesis provides an analysis of changes apparent in the ideology and style of the Inkatha Freedom Party'si politics since April 1994. The IFP's first three years in power under the new dispensation, as a member of the Government of National Unity and the majority party in KwaZulu-Natal, have witnessed a significant shift away from the militant Zulu nationalism and confrontational tactics that characterised the party from the mid-1980s. Zulu nationalism has been abandoned in favour of a broader appeal, while the brinkmanship employed during negotiations in the early 1990s, the walkouts and threats of violent resistance, have been largely absent in the post-election period. Confrontation since 1994, and especially since 1996, has gradually given way to more accommodatory and cooperative relations with the political opposition, on both the national and provincial levels of government. To understand why this shift has occurred, it is necessary to examine the nature of Zulu nationalism as espoused by Inkatha. It is my assertion that Inkatha employed Zulu nationalism in an attempt to preserve its institutionalised power base in the KwaZulu-Natal region and exercise a voice on the national level. Nationalist rhetoric became increasingly prevalent as violence escalated in the late 1980s, and peaked in the uncertainty of the political transition as the IFP faced marginalisation on South Africa's emerging politicalstage. Zulu nationalism acted as the rallying call for party faithful to resist the challenge of the United Democratic Front!African National Congress in the 1980s, and provided justification for Inkatha's confrontational approach and demands for Zulu self-determination in the early 1990s. Indeed, Inkatha's brand of Zulu nationalism has always been about 1 advancing the party interest, rather than defending the integrity of the divided and warring ,J Zulu people. It is in this light that the post-1994 shift in ideological emphasis must be understood. The April 1994 general election ushered in a new era in South African politics, in which the IFP found its role radically altered. From playing the part of spoiler on the outskirts of formal political structures it now had to adjust to its status as the majority party in the provincial legislature, with Buthelezi in a prominent role in the national cabinet. Under these conditions, the party's interests were advanced by the establishment of a smootWy run provincial administration, under which its regional power could be consolidated. Thus, the new political order created a space for the IFP within the democratic system in which its credibility rested on its ability to govern the province effectively. Further, under these conditions, confrontation was not only less attractive as a means of achieving party objectives, it was also less effective and feasible. This the IFP learnt the hard way, in terms of its disastrous constitution-making experience. Its boycott of negotiations at the national level merely served to deprive the IFP of a role in drawing up the country's final constitution, while a belligerent approach at the provincial level prevented the realisation of a compromise agreement. The IFP was forced to accept that its majority in the provincial legislature was insufficient to allow it to rule unilaterally in the province. The loss of therKing's political allegiance, coupled with election results which revealed strong support for the ANC among urban Zulus while the IFP's support was largely confined to traditionalist rural communities, undermined the party's claims to represent the Zulu nation. Furthermore, the gradual return of law and order in the province diminished the IFP's capacity to resort to militarism, thus taking some of the bite out of a confrontational strategy. In brief, the IFP was both pulled and pushed into the new order, and hence to some extent, a new ideology and political style. By 1996 the Zulu nationalism and belligerence that had characterised the party since the mid-1980s had been replaced with a liberal-conservative platform that sought resonance with the urban electorate, coupled with efforts to improve cooperative relations with the political opposition in the interests of provincial stability.


Thesis (M.A.)-University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg, 1998.


Zulu Nationalism., South Africa--Politics and Government--1994., Kwazulu-Natal--Politics and Government--1994., Inkatha., Theses--Political science.