Bring back ‘Gatsha’ book, say young Reds

2010-03-04 00:00

THE Young Communist League (YCL) has called for the return to library bookshelves of a controversial biography of Inkatha Freedom Party president Mangosuthu Buthelezi.

The book, Gatsha Buthelezi: The Chief with a Double Agenda, written by ANC academic and resear­cher Nobleman “Mzala” Nxumalo, disappeared from library shelves in South Africa about 20 years ago, after Buthelezi’s lawyers, Friedman & Friedman, wrote to libraries demanding that it be removed from circulation because it is defamatory to their client.

YCL provincial spokesman Mafika Mndebele said the resolution to demand the return of the book was passed on the grounds that “young people needed to be well informed from different perspectives on the history of our liberation”.

“This is informed by understanding that any democracy must be informed by different ideologies; our young people must draw conclusions upon the total information they receive. The book by Mzala must therefore be seen and admitted as a catalyst in unmasking the truth about the history of our liberation,” Mndebele said.

The book was published by Zed Books in London in February 1988, and the agency for its South African distribution was David Philip Publishers.

In May 1991, university libraries received a letter from attorneys Friedman & Friedman acting on behalf of Buthelezi, saying the book is defamatory and threatening that its continued circulation would lead to claims for damages.

Libraries were asked to submit a written undertaking within 14 days that the book had been withdrawn from the shelves and would subsequently not be loaned to any individual or organisation.

After consulting their lawyers, almost all South African university libraries removed the book, prompting protests from students and freedom of expression activists.

Author Mzala died at the age of 35 in London in February 1991, leaving a heated academic debate concerning authenticity and relevance of his revelations in the controversial book.

IFP national spokesman Reverend Musa Zondi said that if the YCL is an authentic part of the tripartite alliance, the call for the return of the book is out of line as the ANC has recently made attempts towards a reconciliation with the IFP.

“The book … contains propaganda and lies about Inkosi Mangosuthu Buthelezi. We have gone a long way with the ANC in trying to reconcile and they agreed they made some mistakes that created a gulf between us.

“Part of the things discussed was this book by Mzala. The YCL call contradicts everything the ANC said it stands for.”

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