The death has occurred of Mangosuthu Buthelezi, who was a towering figure in South African politics and an outspoken Zulu chief. He was 95 years old.
After falling out of favor with the African National Congress (ANC), he established the Zulu Inkatha party in the midst of the racist apartheid state. Zulu Inkatha was one of the founding parties of the ANC.
During the early 1990s, conflicts between supporters of the two parties resulted in the deaths of thousands of people.
Later on, though, he was accepted back into the fold and appointed by Nelson Mandela to the position of minister of home affairs.
Chief Buthelezi was a brilliant but controversial politician who took a moderate road as the head of an ethnic-Zulu homeland. He was opposed to the African National Congress’s strategy of using military action against white minority rule and followed a moderate path throughout his political career.
He was against international sanctions being placed on South Africa, claiming that they would only hurt the black majority of the country if they were implemented.
During the violence that occurred in the early 1990s, Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress (ANC) accused him of working together with the government of the white minority.
Some people were concerned that the violence might spark a civil war and throw the country’s transition to democracy, which had culminated in Mandela’s election as president in 1994, off track.
Buthelezi has long disputed that this was the case, despite the widespread belief that members of the apartheid security forces were collaborating with the Inkatha movement to combat the ANC.
Tributes were led by President Cyril Ramaphosa, who referred to Chief Buthelezi as a “formidable leader”
He stated that he had “made a significant contribution to the history of our country for seven decades.”
The president continued, saying that “Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi has been an outstanding leader in the political and cultural life of our nation,” including “the ebbs and flows of our liberation struggle, the transition which secured our freedom in 1994, and our democratic dispensation.”
It was two weeks after the celebration of Chief Buthelezi’s 95th birthday when he passed away, according to him, in the early hours of Saturday.
Buthelezi was the hereditary leader of the Zulu people, which make up the biggest ethnic group in South Africa.
His mother, Princess Magogo kaDinzulu, was the sister of the Zulu monarch, hence he was born into the Zulu royal family. His father was Zulu monarch Cetshwayo. In the film Zulu, which was released in 1964, Chief Buthelezi portrayed his own great-grandfather, who was the King of the Zulu people, Cetshwayo.
In 1975, he established the Inkatha Freedom Party, a political and cultural movement that is associated with the Zulu people. Prior to that, he served as the prime minister of KwaZulu, the heartland of the Zulu. After 44 years at the helm of the party, he resigned his position as leader in 2019.
Natasha Booty contributed additional reporting.