Durban — The mooted reconciliation between the IFP and the ANC has hit a snag after the ANC’s rejection of a proposal by the IFP to have its founder and Zulu traditional prime minister Inkosi Mangosuthu Buthelezi’s statue erected in the KZN legislature.
Addressing close to 10 000 mourners at the Buthelezi memorial service in Ulundi, in the north of KwaZulu-Natal on Wednesday, IFP provincial chairperson Thami Ntuli called for the erection of Buthelezi’s statue to honour him.
Although Ntuli did not directly attach his proposal to gestures of reconciliation made by the ANC leaders who visited Buthelezi’s grieving family at their KwaPhindangene residence on Tuesday, many regarded it as a condition for the ANC-led government to show its seriousness about restoring its working relationship with the IFP in honour of the dead founder, but the ANC rejected the call.
ANC KwaZulu-Natal spokesperson Mafika Mndebele laughed off the proposal, and said it was practically impossible. He said besides the fact that there was no space for Buthelezi’s statue, it would be improper to have the late Zulu king Goodwill Zwelithini’s statue standing alongside his prime minister, because that would mean the two had equal status, which was not true.
“No, we cannot have both Mdlokombane’s statue alongside the prime minister as that would be an insult to the late king and to the royal family,” said Mndebele, referring to the late king by the name he was affectionately called.
“We believe there are many ways to honour Shenge, but not with the statue in the legislature.”
Furthermore, Ntuli called for the renaming of strategic areas after Buthelezi, and singled out Umhlathuze Local Municipality, specifically calling on its mayor, Xolani Ngwezi, to ensure the name was changed to Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi Local Municipality.
In response to the call, Umhlathuze municipal manager Nkosenye Zulu said the municipality leadership would start extensive consultation with all stakeholders about the proposal.
Another call came from the royal family through its former spokesperson Prince Thulani Zulu.
Speaking on behalf of the king and the royal family, Prince Zulu called on the government to gazette the Zulu traditional prime minister’s position and establish its office.
Zulu further proposed that the government also recognise the position of the senior prince, arguing that the two positions were key to the success of the current government in executing his duties.
Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs spokesperson in KZN, Siboniso Mngadi, said it was unfortunate that people were using the death of the Zulu traditional prime minister to start a public debate while the MEC and the department were still mourning and focusing on laying to rest uMntwana waKwaPhindange in a dignified manner.
“It is un-African to make noise over the body of a dead person, therefore we will not want to be drawn into such debates and rather wait for the funeral process to end.
“But the MEC, Bongi Sithole-Moloi, wishes to reiterate her commitment to continue supporting the kingship and traditional leadership of the province. As the Presidency has granted uMntwana waKwaPhindangene a category 1 state funeral, ours now is to focus on making sure that indeed the prince is honoured with a good send-off,” said Mngadi.
Among the people who also heaped praise on Buthelezi were political parties’ representatives, including those in Parliament.
Speaking on behalf of the EFF, Dr Mbuyiseni Ndlozi lashed out at those who were calling Buthelezi an apartheid collaborator.
In a thinly veiled swipe at the ANC, Ndlozi said the real collaborators were those who collaborated with Lonmin mine bosses to kill mine workers in Marikana.
Ndlozi again mooted that the EFF and the IFP work together to form a coalition after next year’s elections.
Delivering his main address, IFP president Velenkosini Hlabisa described Buthelezi as a true South African and African leader.
As part of the category 1 state funeral, President Cyril Ramaphosa will deliver a eulogy and Buthelezi’s body will be draped with the country’s flag and be carried by South African soldiers to his grave.
The funeral will take place at Ulundi Stadium on Saturday. The stadium has already been named after Buthelezi.
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