IFP stalwart Prince Gideon Zulu dies

By Time of article published May 17, 2006

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By Zukile Majova

Former KwaZulu-Natal Social Welfare and Pensions MEC Prince Gideon Zulu died on Tuesday night after a long, cancer-related illness.

He was 71.

Zulu, an Inkatha Freedom Party stalwart and senior member of the Zulu royal family, was a confidante of IFP President Mangosuthu Buthelezi.

His loyalty to Buthelezi remained unwavering even when other members of the Zulu royal family began to distance themselves from the IFP leader in the mid-1990s.

A hard core Zulu traditionalist and historian of the Zulu royal bloodline, the former MEC will be remembered for his rousing rhetoric during annual Shaka Day celebrations in KwaDukuza.

When on a public platform, Zulu always ensured that he invoked warrior pride among his Zulu audience, and this would often see regiments, clad in traditional Zulu garb, jumping up from their seats armed with shields and assegais (spears) in mock battle formations.

Zulu, a former clerk at a government hospital in Eshowe, had a soft side for those who interacted with him on a daily basis, particularly those in the media.

Before joining the KZN government in 1994, Zulu served the former KwaZulu homeland government as a minister under Buthelezi, who was chief minister.

Between 1994 and 2004 he served in the KZN cabinet as Social Welfare and Pensions MEC. In 2004, when the ANC took control of the province, he became an ordinary member of the legislature.

He became ill with an undisclosed cancer-related illness. His fragile health became public knowledge when the ANC complained about his prolonged absence from the legislature.

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