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The Life and Times of Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi

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By Rachel Mohamed

Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, the former founder of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) and the traditional prime minister to the AmaZulu monarch, passed away at the age of 95, in the early hours of Saturday morning of last week at his home in Ulundi.

There have been mixed emotions and messages of condolences after the news broke of the passing of the late Buthelezi, with many questions arising over his legacy and the marred political past, which led to many lives lost in the black townships of Gauteng and Kwazulu-Natal provinces during the 1980s.

“Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi’s passing leaves us with unresolved questions and deep-seated issues of the land debate under the Ingonyama Trust and the murders and killings of the people’s war in the townships between members of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) and the African National Congress (ANC) in the 80’ and 90’s”, said Political Analyst and Director of Gender Equity Unit at the University of the Western Cape (UWC), Dr Fikile Vilakazi on VOC’s Drive Time show on Monday afternoon.

Furthermore, Vilakazi stated that Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi’s passing happened at a time when the ANC and IFP were negotiating possibilities of resolving issues in joining forces as political parties and possibly engaging in a process of declaration for the people who were affected and died during these wars, as matters were not resolved, which leaves a huge gap in relation to the deaths and reparation in terms of the issue of land in Kwazulu-Natal.

Vilakazi highlighted that Buthelezi’s legacy happened at a moment when the nation needs to dissect these issues and ask ourselves how we deal with these matters and heal from the divisions of the past. This comes amid a legacy deeply seated in these divisions as they happened at a time when the country was negotiating a government of national unity and the IFP under the leadership of Buthelezi as the then prime minister of the Bantustan and the Zulu homeland.

“His role was pivotal, and the wars happened mainly because he had a particular stance of only entering democratic government if the nation of KwaZulu was to be given land and the right to self-govern under the IFP political manifesto in relation to the federal government, which was granted to Buthelezi but that granting came at a huge cost with the spill of bloodshed of innocent people and women lost their husbands, More than 20,000 people died, with citizens now living with deep wounds from the townships from hostels that were occupied by members of the IFP with the support from the apartheid government to fight against the ANC at the time”, said Vilakazi.

Even though Buthelezi’s legacy and political history had been covered with a dark cloud he contributed immensely to the academic space in building universities and schools in ensuring that the Zulu child from the rural area is afforded the right to education and land.

“Buthelezi’s legacy is important to highlight all these perspectives and on the other hand under the system of self-governance in Kwa-Zulu Natal, he was able to build universities and schools to make sure the children of Kwazulu-Natal have access to education and to live in the land.

But have also other contestations in relation to the Ingonyama Trust, over the years under his leadership things changed in the manner in which the issues that contributed to his passing because of his disagreements with the AmaZulu king, on to how to handle the trust and that caused divisions under the department of Minister Thoko Didiza between the king and the government and the land of Ingonyama Trust Act as part of becoming national land.”

Buthelezi was known as a Zulu nationalist who fought tooth and nail for the rights of the Zulu nation in getting them the land, in this regard, the establishment of the Ingonyama Trust Act would see the king (His Majesty the King Misuzulu kaZwelithini ) under the trust as a sole trustee.

“The issue of self-governance comes back into the fore and as citizens are aware the government of the Western Cape (WC) is in a dispute in negotiating for self-governance, but it is not only the issue of the WC, but it is embedded in the idea of confederalism, which the IFP has been leading, where both parties of IFP and DA have been able to forge coalitions with certain municipalities, as they follow the same ideology and are in agreement with each other, and the ANC is not following but wants to talk about democratic centralism and saturating power within one political party and that will not work partly as a result of the ills that you see in the country,” commented Vilakazi.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that Buthelezi would be laid to rest and would be given an official sendoff with a category one funeral, which will include a military honour and flags will be flown at half-mast at flag stations around the country until the day that the funeral will take place this coming Saturday, 16 September 2023.

VOC News

Photo: Pexels


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