Politicians and media who reacted to the passing of Mangosuthu Buthelezi were determined to ignore or silence anyone who wanted to talk about the conflicts before 1994 in which he played a role. This is not unusual - one of the unspoken rules since democracy arrived is drawing a curtain over what politicians did then. This ignoring the past is supposed to promote peace but it does just the opposite. It silences people, ignores their pain and makes sure that anger festers because it can't be expressed. If we want to move on from the past, we need to face it.
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Steven Friedman is a public commentator and an academic, currently employed as a Research Professor at the University of Johannesburg. He has been writing on South African politics for the entire democratic period both as a scholar and public commentator. He has published books on South Africa’s transition to democracy, the role of the trade union movement, and current South African politics. He has also written columns and articles for several South African newspapers. His writing seeks to use academic research to shed light on current politics but to ensure that this is conveyed in a way easily understood by people who have no academic training.