Mangosuthu Buthelezi (1928–2023)

09 September 2023 | Compiled by Niémah Davids. Photo UCT News. Read time 3 min.
Mangosuthu Buthelezi
Mangosuthu Buthelezi

27 August 1928 – 9 September 2023

Following the passing of anti-apartheid activist, founder of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) and the Zulu traditional prime minister, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi; the University of Cape Town (UCT) joins the nation as it commemorates the life and times of this astute son of the African soil.

Buthelezi died during the early hours of Saturday morning, 9 September, just two weeks after celebrating his 95th birthday.

In recognition of his tenacious service to the nation, he was awarded a doctor of laws (honoris causa) from UCT in 1979. He was also awarded three other honorary doctorates in law from the University of Zululand in 1976, Florida’s Tampa University in 1985, and the University of Boston in 1986.

‘Outstanding’ leader

He was the firstborn child of Mathole Buthelezi, the traditional leader of the Buthelezi clan, and Princess Magogo kaDinuzulu. He grew up in rural KwaZulu-Natal and was an advocate for Zulu nationalism. Buthelezi attended Adams College in Amanzimtoti south of Durban where he matriculated in the 1940s. But it was only once he reached the University of Fort Hare that he got involved in politics. He joined the African National Congress (ANC) Youth League and participated in various student political movements that opposed the apartheid regime. But he was expelled in 1950 for participating in a student protest.

In 1975 Buthelezi founded the IFP – a right wing political party where spent more than four decades at helm. He was part of the Government of National Unity (GNU) in 1994 – established under the leadership of the ANC and headed by the late former president Nelson Mandela, to steer the country during the first few years of democracy. The GNU comprised members of various political parties, including the IFP and the National Party, and Buthelezi served as South Africa’s first minister of home affairs, a portfolio he held until 2004.

Announcing the news of his passing, President Cyril Ramaphosa described Buthelezi as an outstanding leader who was resolute in the fight against apartheid and made an immense contribution to the battle for a free and liberated South Africa. His tireless contributions extended during the transition to democracy and into the new democratic dispensation.

Buthelezi is survived by his children Princess Phumzile Nokuphiwa, Prince Ntuthukoyezwe Zuzifa and Princess Sibuyiselwe Angela, and his grandchildren.

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