TRIBUTES TO A ZULU PRINCE
Presidency, politicians and MPs offer condolences after death of political and cultural leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi
Messages of condolences have poured in following the death of Mangosuthu Buthelezi, founder of the Inkatha Freedom Party and Traditional Prime Minister to the Zulu monarch. Buthelezi died in the early hours of Saturday, 9 September 2023. He was 95.
The Presidency announced the death of Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) founder Prince Mangosuthu Gatsha Buthelezi on Saturday morning, saying he was an outstanding leader in the political and cultural life of our nation.
“My thoughts and prayers, and those of government and our nation, go out to the Royal Household who have been blessed to share uMntwana waKwaPhindangene’s extended lifetime with him, as well as to the Zulu Nation, and the leadership and membership of the Inkatha Freedom Party.
“Announcements will be made in due course, based on consultations between government and the family, on the arrangements to mourn and honour the Inkosi of the Buthelezi clan as a formidable leader who has played a significant role in our country’s history for seven decades,” President Cyril Ramaphosa said in a statement.
IFP leader Velenkosini Hlabisa said the party was “devastated” by the news of Buthelezi’s passing and sent his heartfelt condolences to the family.
“On behalf of the IFP, I offer condolences to His Majesty King Misuzulu kaZwelithini and the Zulu royal family on the loss of the Zulu nation’s long-serving traditional Prime Minister, who gave so much to strengthen the institution of the monarchy and ensure the recognition of the King. We also extend our sympathies to the Buthelezi Clan, whom Prince Buthelezi served as Inkosi for seven decades. This loss will be keenly felt by many, both among those who directly benefitted from Prince Buthelezi’s leadership and those who admired his example of servant-heartedness.
“As South Africa mourns, the IFP gives thanks – even through our tears – for the exceptional leader given to us for so many years. He blessed our country beyond measure. We cannot begin to express our gratitude,” Hlabisa said.
Read more in Daily Maverick: Feud between King Misuzulu and Buthelezi is ‘at a point of no return’
Buthelezi was hospitalised and underwent a small procedure for back-pain management. He was later readmitted as he was experiencing complications, which resulted in the back pain not subsiding.
The late IFP founder has a rich history in South African politics. He was an MP after the first democratic elections in 1994. He is the county’s longest-serving Home Affairs Minister as he was first appointed as part of then President Nelson Mandela’s Cabinet under the Government of National Unity between 1994 and 1999. Then continued in the role until 2004.
He stepped down from the helm of the IFP after 44 years in power in 2019, but remained an MP.
Speaker of the National Assembly Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula described Buthelezi’s contribution to Parliament as “remarkable”.
“He embarked on this parliamentary journey in 1994, at the inception of our democratic rule. From that moment, he became a guiding light, illuminating our legislative halls with his wisdom and unwavering commitment to serving our great nation.
“His presence was a source of wisdom that consistently guided our work in Parliament. His unmatched dedication and unparalleled commitment to improving the lives of South Africans set a standard that we all aspired to uphold. He possessed a wealth of legislative and political leadership experience, having led a political party both during the apartheid era and in post-apartheid South Africa,” said Mapisa-Nqakula.
In extending its condolences, ActionSA said Buthelezi was a “giant who played an instrumental role in the fight for democracy during the apartheid regime and served as Minister of Home Affairs from 1994 to 2004. He led the Zulu political kingdom with unimpeachable distinction, conscience, integrity and high emotional intelligence.”
Rise Mzansi’s Songezo Zibi said: “Prince Buthelezi’s life was profoundly consequential on South Africa’s political landscape. He is globally recognised as one of the country’s foremost political leaders whose work and views influenced the country’s political development, especially over the last 40 years.
“Though a proud and unapologetic umZulu, he understood the project of building a South African national identity that united us all, where he once stated that ‘We have our own history, our own language, our own culture. But our destiny is also tied up with the destinies of other people – history has made us all South Africans’,” Zibi added while expressing his party’s condolences.
The South African Council of Churches said it had “maintained a respectful relationship with Prince Buthelezi and, as we take in the moment of his quiet departure, we recognise the joy of his spirit in being united with his dear wife and his venerable mother, Princess Magogo, in the eternal worship of the Lord he served as a dedicated Anglican lay minister”.
Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana, General Secretary of the South African Council of Churches, said: “We offer our deepest condolences to the family at this time, as they grapple with this loss. Indeed, this marks the end of an era for the Zulu Kingdom! Uphumule umntwan’enkosi.”
While Buthelezi is praised and revered for his political contribution to South Africa, others will remember his focus on ethnic interests over national unity which contributed to the divisive programme of the apartheid regime. This led to a virtual civil war between his Zulu loyalist supporters and ANC members in KwaZulu-Natal which claimed nearly 20,000 lives.
He went as far as supporting the idea of a Federal Republic to protect ethnic rights and his power base. DM