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The ASRI Report

Sameera Casmod |
15 September 2023 | 11:15am SAST
2-min read


Today, South Africa observes the funeral of Chief Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, who played a role in the nation’s political history. Dr Imraan Buccus, senior research associate at ASRI (Auwal Socio-economic Research Institute), shared his insights on the legacy of Chief Buthelezi and the current state of his party, the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), in this week’s ASRI report.

Chief Buthelezi’s legacy is complex, as Dr Buccus pointed out. While he played a significant role in certain aspects of South Africa’s political landscape, he was also involved in conflicts during the late 80s and early 90s, often referred to as a civil war. The violence that occurred during this period, particularly in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) and the East Rand in Gauteng, resulted in the loss of life and major massacres.

One significant aspect of Chief Buthelezi’s legacy is his alignment with countries like the United States under Ronald Reagan and the United Kingdom under Margaret Thatcher, which contravened the sanctions imposed on South Africa during the apartheid era. This, along with his collaboration with the apartheid state and the National Party, has led to a mixed assessment of his legacy.

Dr Buccus also noted that, to his recollection, Chief Buthelezi did not issue a clear-cut apology for his actions or decisions during that turbulent period. Instead, he often provided explanations or justifications and shifted blame.

Turning to the present, Dr Buccus discussed the IFP’s recent political resurgence, particularly in KZN under the leadership of Hlabisa. While the party has seen an upward trend in local government elections, its national presence remains modest. Hlabisa’s leadership style, characterised by a mix of credibility and influence, has been instrumental in this electoral shift. Additionally, his willingness to engage in talks with opposition parties, like the DA, suggests potential for strategic alliances.

The IFP, historically associated with narrow Zulu nationalism, is now seeing younger, more urban faces within its ranks. This indicates an effort to broaden the party’s appeal and attract a younger demographic less tied to ethnic nationalism, Dr Buccus noted.

As South Africa heads into a landscape of coalition politics at provincial and national levels, the future prospects of the IFP remain intriguing. Dr Buccus believes that KZN, with its unique political dynamics, is poised for an electoral shift in favour of the IFP.

Regarding Chief Buthelezi’s funeral, Dr Buccus anticipates a massive event with significant political presence. Despite electoral challenges, Chief Buthelezi remains a highly popular and respected figure, particularly among the Zulu majority in KZN. This funeral, he predicts, will serve as a platform for political grandstanding and reconciliation efforts, as South Africa approaches a crucial election season.

Listen to the ASRI Report on Sabaahul Muslim with Moulana Sulaimaan Ravat.


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