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Buthelezi, a force for peace and reconciliation in South Africa, dies at 95

Annisa Essack |
9 September 2023 | 07:30 CAT
2 min read

Photo Credit: IOL

Prince Mangosuthu Gatsha Buthelezi, the Zulu prince and South African politician who founded the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) and served as Chief Minister of KwaZulu Bantustan during apartheid, died on 8th August 2023 at the age of 95.

Buthelezi was born on 27th August 1928 in Mahlabathini, KwaZulu Natal. He was the first-born son of Mathole Buthelezi, chief of the Buthelezi clan, and Princess Mathole, daughter of King Dinizulu of the Zulus. Buthelezi was educated at Adams College University and the University of Fort Hare, where he studied history and Bantu Administration.

After graduating from Fort Hare, Buthelezi worked as a teacher and journalist. In 1955, he was elected to the Executive Committee of the African National Congress (ANC). However, he resigned from the ANC in 1971 in protest of the party’s decision to abandon its policy of non-violence.

In 1975, Buthelezi founded the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), which he said would be a more effective vehicle for fighting apartheid than the ANC. The IFP quickly became KwaZulu’s most prominent black political party, and Buthelezi was elected Chief Minister in 1976.

Buthelezi’s relationship with the ANC was often strained, and the two parties fought a bloody civil war in KwaZulu-Natal in the 1980s. However, Buthelezi played a crucial role in the negotiations that led to the end of apartheid, and he was appointed Minister of Home Affairs in the first post-apartheid government in 1994.

Buthelezi remained a controversial figure throughout his career. He was accused of being a collaborator with the apartheid government and criticised for his support of traditional Zulu culture. However, he was also praised for his commitment to democracy and his role in bringing peace to South Africa.

Buthelezi is survived by his wife, Irene Mzila Buthelezi, and their seven children. He will be remembered as a complex and controversial figure who significantly shaped South Africa’s history.

In addition to his political career, Buthelezi was a noted philanthropist and businessman. He founded the Buthelezi College of Education and the Buthelezi Foundation and was chairman of the South African Breweries.

Buthelezi was awarded the Order of the Companions of O.R. Tambo, South Africa’s highest civilian honour, in 2005. He was also awarded the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany and the Order of the Star of Africa from Liberia.

Buthelezi was a complex and controversial figure but also a significant one. He played a vital role in the fight against apartheid and helped bring peace to South Africa. He will be remembered as a man who fought for what he believed in, even when it was unpopular.

A week ago, Buthelezi was released from the hospital after being admitted for prolonged back pain. His family had announced that he was recovering well. While in the hospital, he suffered other health complications and spent some time in the Intensive Care Unit.

He passed away two weeks after celebrating his 95th birthday in the hospital.


Prime Spot!!!


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