LIVE BLOG: Tributes pour in for Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi who passed away, aged 95



Published Sep 9, 2023


Former Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) founder and President Emeritus Prince Mangosuthu Gatsha Buthelezi has died at the age of 95.

Buthelezi's death was confirmed in a statement released by his family said: “It is with utter grief that we, the family of Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP, announce the passing of South Africa’s truest champion and greatest servant, our father, uMntwana wa KwaPhindangene.”

A colourful life of service

Mangosuthu Buthelezi, the politically towering Zulu prince, unyielding tribal chief and forever combative South African politician who established the IFP, an enduring Zulu nationalist formation and moulded it into a formidable political force, all the while being its eternal public avatar, has passed away.

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Reed dance cut short as King Misuzulu pays homage to Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi

Reed Dance: File Picture.

Zulu King Misuzulu ka Zwelithini has taken a different approach with this year’s annual Zulu Royal Reed Dance.

He has told the thousand maidens who flocked to Enyokeni Royal Palace in Nongoma to go back home and mourn the life of the late Zulu prime minister in line with the Zulu traditional practices.

“In respecting the passing of uMmntwana (Buthelezi), the Queen and I decided that tomorrow’s reed dance ceremony should be cancelled,”he said, adding the royal kingdom would give maidens an opportunity to travel back home in order to observe the Prime Minister’s passing.

He added: This means that today (Saturday) we are closing the Reed Dance. We will resume next year. God willing, we will continue with our cultural practice but for now as a nation, we feel that long speeches and advices that you’d like to hear should be cut short today. Dance and be merry today as today is the last day,“ he said.

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Mbeki says Buthelezi was a towering and significant figure

Former president Thabo Mbeki has paid tribute to Mangosuthu Buthelezi, saying he was a towering figure in the evolution of South African society.

Mbeki said Buthelezi left an indelible mark in the country because of the contribution he made over many years.

He said this was also the time to reflect on the commitments the country made three decades ago to build a non-racial society.

Buthelezi was also a custodian of Zulu culture and tradition.

Mbeki was joining a number of leaders who have started paying tribute to the former leader of the IFP.

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File Picture: Brett Florens

President Cyril Ramaphosa pays tribute

— Cyril Ramaphosa 🇿🇦 (@CyrilRamaphosa) September 9, 2023
South Africa - Durban - 9 April1991 - Dr Mangosuthu Buthelezi.Picture: Independent Archives; African News Agency

ANC pays tribute to Prince Buthelezi, says their relationship was complex, but respectful

The African National Congress (ANC) have recognised Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi’s contribution to the liberation struggle and the post-apartheid political environment, following his death on Saturday.

The ANC said that while Buthelezi had a multifaceted relationship with the governing party and the nation, it said his legacy would be subjected to intense debate.

Buthelezi served as the traditional prime minister to the Zulu monarch since 1968, and in a democratic South Africa, he served as the Minister of Home Affairs in the Government of National Unity and a member of Parliament until the time of his passing.

Buthelezi joined the ANCYL as a student at the University of Fort Hare, working alongside the late Oliver Tambo, Robert Mugabe, Mangaliso Robert Sobukwe and other revered stalwarts of the liberation movement.

“Buthelezi became an inextricable part of South Africa’s body politic,” the ANC said.

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Funeral plans for Buthelezi will be announced after consultations with government

The family of Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi is working with government to finalise details around his funeral.

Family spokesperson Dr Bhekuyise Ngqengelele Buthelezi said the family was meeting on Saturday to discuss the plans for the funeral.

However, they will work with government on the details and this will be made public once everything has been finalised.

Dr Buthelezi, who was speaking on Newzroom Afrika, said he hoped this will be soon.

Reflecting on the legacy of the late Prince Buthelezi, he said he was strict and a disciplinarian who believed in his principles.

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Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi and Princess Irene: A love of a lifetime

Durban - For more than six decades, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, who died on Saturday, aged 95 has loved only one woman, his beloved Princess Irene.

On the 64th anniversary of their wedding, the Sunday Tribune interviewed the couple.

The story about his relationship with his wife and the incredible, sometimes heart-breaking, journey they have travelled together is republished by IOL today, to mark the political icon’s death.

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Looking back at Toya Delazy’s relationship with her ‘woke’ grandfather Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi

London-based South African artist Toya Delazy, real name (Latoya Nontokozo Buthelezi), and her family are mourning the death of her grandfather - Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi.

The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) founder died at the age of 95. Buthelezi's death was confirmed in a statement released by his family.

Delazy, is among the Buthelezi grandchildren, who had a strong relationship with Buthelezi and his late wife Princess Irene.

The ‘Love Is In The Air’ hitmaker in a previous interview with City Press, expressed that her grandfather was “woke” amid criticism she received for wearing ibheshu (traditional Zulu attire commonly worn by men) at a ceremony celebrating her grandfather’s 90th birthday.

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Filmmaker Anant Singh on the passing of Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi

It is great sadness that I learnt of the passing of Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi in the early hours of this morning.

I first met him in the 1980’s when I first started making films and struck a special friendship with him. He was a great supporter of the creative arts, especially the film industry as he had a first-hand experience when he starred in the 1964 film, ‘Zulu’ with Michael Caine. As a supporter of my work, he attended a number of my film premieres. I enjoyed having many robust discussions with him, and appreciated his wit and wisdom.

I was honoured to have been invited to his 90th Birthday Celebrations in 2018 and produced a short film to celebrate his life on this milestone birthday.

Prince Buthelezi has left an indelible mark on South Africa’s political landscape and will be missed.

I send my heartfelt condolences to Prince Buthelezi’s family. May his soul rest in peace.

FW de Klerk Foundation send its condolences after the passing of Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi

The FW de Klerk Foundation has learned with the greatest sadness of the passing of Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi this morning – shortly after the celebration of his 95th birthday

Prince Buthelezi was, for more than forty years, one of the giants of South African politics and was, indisputably, one of the founding fathers of our constitutional democracy. In his autobiography FW de Klerk described him and his contribution to South African politics, as follows:

“Chief Minister Buthelezi took great pride in his position as the hereditary Prime Minister of the Zulu king, the young and amiable Goodwil Zwelethini.

Although a fiercely committed Zulu nationalist, Buthelezi was also in many ways a moderate.

Former presidents Kgalema Motlanthe and FW de Klerk with IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi at the at the annual FW de Klerk Foundation conference in Cape Town. Picture: Brenton Geach

While resolutely opposed to apartheid, he was committed to non-violence and to using his power-base as the Chief Minister of KwaZulu to achieve his objectives. He made a major contribution to the demise of grand apartheid by refusing adamantly to accept independence for KwaZulu and by insisting on the release of Nelson Mandela and the unbanning of the ANC before he would enter into constitutional negotiations with the government.

He staunchly favoured free-market principles and was opposed to sanctions, which he quite correctly believed were primarily harming black South Africans. While he, himself, presided over a de facto one-party state from the traditional capital of Ulundi, he favoured a liberal and strongly federal constitution with maximum devolution of power for a future South Africa.”

Prince Buthelezi went on to play a key role in South Africa’s transition to constitutional democracy, in the Government of National Unity, and in Parliament – where he became one of its longest serving members.

The FW de Klerk Foundation – and Mrs Elita de Klerk – would like to express their deepest condolences to Prince Buthelezi’s family, to his many friends and supporters and to the Inkatha Freedom Party. South Africa has lost one of its greatest sons.

Left to right Tony Leon F.W. de Klerk and Mangosuthu Buthelezi at the launch of a book about Helen Suzman at the Mount Nelson Hotel. Picture Jeffrey Abrahams.

Parliament’s presiding officers commend Buthelezi’s legacy and contribution, marking his death an end of an era

South Africa’s parliamentary presiding officers have issued a heartfelt tribute to Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, saying the death of such a towering figure in the nation’s history marked an end of an era.

Buthelezi’s contributions to Parliament have been described as “nothing short of remarkable”.

He embarked on his parliamentary journey in 1994, at the inception of South Africa’s democratic rule. Parliamentary Speaker, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said from that moment, he became a “guiding light, illuminating legislative halls with his wisdom and unwavering commitment to serving our great nation”.

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Mangosuthu Buthelezi’s shoes too big to fill, cultural expert

The death of Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi has left a huge void in the Zulu Royal family and Kingdom as his influence and role dates back to King Bhekuzulu in the 1950s until his death in 1968 and when the late King Zwelithini took over the reigns in the early 1970s until his death in 2021.

Buthelezi continued in his role as Traditional Prime Minister to the Zulu Monarch and Nation when the current King, Misuzulu kaZwelithini, was appointed to the position after the death of his father.

University of KwaZulu-Natal cultural expert Dr Gugu Mazibuko said Buthelezi was a huge figure in the Zulu Royal family.

She said this did not end in the Zulu kingdom, but he worked with traditional leaders from other parts of South Africa and the rest of the continent.

Mazibuko said Buthelezi fought for the respect of traditional leadership for almost his entire life and this was reflected in the role he played in the royal family.

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ANC in KZN says Buthelezi’s death is a depletion of matured leadership that shaped the country

The African National Congress (ANC) in KwaZulu-Natal has paid tribute to “distinguished statesman” and “fountain of wisdom”, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi.

The ANC in KZN has added to the many voices that have since paid tribute to the 95-year-old since news of his passing on Saturday morning.

“We would like to extend our heartfelt condolences to the Buthelezi family, the entire Buthelezi Clan and to the Inkatha Freedom Party. The ANC as a caring organisation, shares your pain and anguish during this difficult period.

“While we appreciated the advancement in his age and the condition of his health, we were still hopeful that he was going to recover and continue to fulfil his important roles in society,” said ANC Provincial Secretary, Bheki Mtolo.

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EFF, DA, ActionSA hail one of South Africa’s longest serving political figures, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi

As tributes for Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi who died on Saturday morning continue to pour in, South African politicians have also added their sombre voices to pay tribute to the founder and President Emeritus of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP).

The Democratic Alliance described Buthelezi as a giant on South Africa’s political landscape.

“Across three decades in Parliament and as a Minister in the Government of National Unity and as Acting President, he consistently demonstrated the courage of his convictions, never hesitated to speak truth to power, and was a role model for us all.

“Today and always, we honour his steadfast commitment to building a peaceful, just and free nation,” the party said.

DA leader John Steenhuisen said it was also heart warming to them that Buthelezi lived to witness and bless the close relationship between the DA and IFP, which led to a constructive working relationship in KwaZulu Natal and which culminated in the historic formation of the Multi-Party Charter last month.

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— John Steenhuisen MP (@jsteenhuisen) September 9, 2023

First reed dance without Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi as maidens mourn his death

The annual Zulu Royal Reed Dance also known as Umkhosi woMhlanga is set to go ahead despite the passing of Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi on Saturday morning.

Maidens from across the country had already converged at the Enyokeni Royal Palace in Nongoma when the news broke with more expected to trickle in during the day.

This will be the first reed dance without Buthelezi who has been a towering figure and a staunch advocate of the Zulu nation's traditional and cultural practices.

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IFP President Velenkosini Hlabisa

“It is with the deepest sorrow that we have received news from the family of Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP that the Lord has called His servant home. The Founder and President Emeritus of the Inkatha Freedom Party passed away peacefully in the early hours of this morning. We are devastated by this unspeakable loss to the IFP, the Zulu Nation, our country, and the greater cause of justice and peace.

“Recognising that the deepest pain is reserved for the Buthelezi family, the IFP has extended our condolences and full support in this most difficult time. We will defer to the family on all arrangements to honour Prince Buthelezi, with assurances that in the days, months and years to come, the IFP will place the legacy of our Founder at the centre of all our work in the service of South Africa.

“On behalf of the IFP, I offer condolences to His Majesty King Misuzulu kaZwelithini and the Zulu Royal Family on the loss of the Zulu nation’s long-serving traditional Prime Minister, who gave so much to strengthen the institution of the monarchy and ensure the recognition of the King.“