Abantu Batho Congress (ABC) refuses to sign electoral commission pledge due to language concerns.

ABC leader Philani Mavundla. Image: X

Abantu Batho Congress – the party that wants an independent Zulu state

As the 2024 elections near, the Abantu Batho Congress has called for an independent KwaZulu-Natal in their manifesto.

Abantu Batho Congress (ABC) refuses to sign electoral commission pledge due to language concerns.

ABC leader Philani Mavundla. Image: X

The Abantu Batho Congress (ABC) has put forward a contentious proposal in the party’s manifesto ahead of the general elections on 29 May: the establishment of an independent Zulu State.

This was revealed in an interview on CapeTalk, where ABC leader Philani Mavundla spoke to host Lester Kiewit and clarified the party’s proposal.

Mavundla details independent Zulu state plan

When questioned about the fate of other ethnic groups within the province should ABC come to power, Mavundla emphasised inclusivity.

“When we talk about the independent state of KwaZulu, we are not saying take AmaZulu out of Indians and Coloureds [sic],” Mavundla said.

Drawing parallels with neighbouring countries, Mavundla highlighted the diversity of citizens in nations like Botswana and eSwatini.

“If you go to Botswana, it’s not only Batswanas [sic] that are Botswana citizens. If you go to eSwatini, you can be White, you can be Coloured, you can be Indian; once you have an eSwatini citizenship, you become a Swati.”

Mavundla reiterated that the ABC proposal is rooted in reclaiming historical identity.

“We are saying the same thing about KwaZulu; we cannot change it and give it another name because that’s what historically it has been and what it is, KwaZulu,” he told Kiewit.

He emphasised that ethnicity is not the focal point of the initiative, asserting: “We are not looking at it in terms of colour; we are looking at it that this land belongs to our people.”

Language concerns over IEC pledge

Addressing another noteworthy aspect, the ABC garnered attention recently for its stance on the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) pledge, citing language concerns. Last week, Mavundla expressed disappointment over the pledge being solely in English without an IsiZulu version.

Mavundla refused to sign the pledge written in English.

After that, according to Sunday World, Mavundla reiterated his stance, saying: “I stand by my actions. Our country boasts numerous indigenous languages, yet we’re compelled to sign electoral agreements in English. True freedom includes liberation for our indigenous languages. With over 15 million IsiZulu speakers, it’s unjust to treat our language as inferior.”

Mavundla’s sentiments were further clear during his conversation with CapeTalk, where he emphasised the importance of linguistic inclusivity.

The ABC leader stated: “My understanding of the South African configuration in as far as language is concerned, we have 11 official languages before we bring in the sign language.”

He highlighted the necessity of having versions of the pledge in other major languages spoken in a specific region, such as Afrikaans and isiXhosa in the Western Cape.

Mavundla and the Abantu Batho Congress: The Story So Far

Established in January 2020 by Mavundla – a businessman and owner of PG Mavundla Engineering – the ABC has emerged as a significant player in South African politics.

According to Sunday World, the ABC currently holds a total of 24 municipal seats, with the majority situated in KwaZulu-Natal. Additionally, the party has secured two councillor positions in the Limpopo province.

Mavundla himself is a former deputy mayor of eThekwini and current mayor of the Umvoti Municipality in Greytown. Previously, he was also a member of the ruling ANC.