Buthelezi's heartwarming birthday message
Durban - If there was “anyone who was hurt at any time through my interactions with them, I would like to apologise”, IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi said as he wrapped up his 90th birthday celebration in Ulundi on Monday.
Buthelezi said while some people think of him as being beyond human frailties, he was just a sinner, saved by grace.
“Please forgive me,” he said.
He was addressing thousands of guests and supporters who gathered at the Prince Mangosuthu Stadium in Ulundi to celebrate the milestone with him.
Among those who attended were former president Jacob Zuma, King Goodwill Zwelithini, his long-time friend Arnold Zoolman, senior IFP leaders and KZN MECs, including Sihle Zikalala, who is also the provincial ANC chairperson.
Buthelezi used the occasion to reflect on his legacy and the tribulations he had faced. One of those, he said, was that while the IFP had been formed as a front for the ANC, he had found himself being vilified by some leaders of the ANC.
He said even Nelson Mandela had been threatened by fellow ANC leaders not to meet with him. However, Buthelezi said he has not had any animosity towards the ANC and he reminded those present that, from a young age, he was mentored by ANC leaders, including Pixley ka Isaka Seme.
Earlier at the event, Zuma said Buthelezi was a hero who had played a huge role in fighting against white domination.
He said the issue of reconciliation between the ANC and IFP had to be addressed “because we are one and the same thing”.
Zuma said one of Buthelezi’s key attributes was that he was respectful to everyone - young and old. He had shown this several times in Parliament, as he was the one who always rose to talk sense whenever tempers rose.
The former president said young people who were venturing into politics could learn from the way Buthelezi conducted himself.
“Some of those who are starting out in politics think that politics is all about talking big English, but it is not,” Zuma said.
Zwelithini hailed Buthelezi as one of the shining lights keeping the Zulu nation together.
He said there were many attempts to try to divide the Zulus and the royal household.
The king said Buthelezi was one of those who had stood firm in protecting the land that belongs to the Zulus.
Buthelezi said it was a known fact that, despite the assurances given by President Cyril Rama- phosa when he met the king that the government would not take away any land under the Ingonyama Trust, there were some within the ANC who were salivating over the Ingonyama land.
He said utterances by the ANC Youth League provincial chairperson and by Cosatu leaders in the province contradicted what Ramaphosa had communicated to Zwelithini.
The king also used the occasion to lobby for investments for KwaZulu-Natal, saying he would personally ensure that projects arising from investments were protected.
Turning to Zoolman, who was seated next to Buthelezi, the king said: “When you go back to America, talk to the business sector, invite them to come to this kingdom and to invest. Each and every project that will be brought here, I will protect them myself with my warriors.”
Buthelezi’s family members, including superstar granddaughter Toya Delazy, were at the event to pay tribute to him. His wife, Princess Irene, could not attend owing to ill-health.
Buthelezi’s son, Prince Zuzifa, thanked his father for the way he had raised them as children and for “letting them be”.
“He never tried to channel us towards anything, least of all politics, but we always say we are pleased that our older sister Phumzile seems to be following him there to represent us,” he said.
The mayor of Ulundi, Wilson Ntshangase, said the municipality was honoured to have Buthelezi as one of its residents.
The celebrations continued into the night.
On Friday, another event to celebrate Buthelezi’s milestone will be held at the Durban ICC. Several high-profile guests have been invited to the event.