State funeral for KZN’s first premier, Dr Frank Mdlalose
Durban - KwaZulu-Natal’s first premier, Dr Frank Mdlalose, who led the province during the volatile early years of democracy, will get a state-funded official funeral.
The announcement of the state funeral was made on Monday by current provincial premier Sihle Zikalala after he led a delegation to mourn Mdlalose’s passing at his Newcastle home.
The 89-year-old Mdlalose succumbed to Covid-19 on Saturday. At the time of his passing, he had retired from politics.
Mdlalose’s political career took him first to the ANC (before the Inkatha Freedom Party, which he joined in 1979, was formed with the blessing of ANC leaders) and later the DA.
After the historic 1994 elections, the IFP assigned him to be premier and he had to work with ANC MECs as the interim constitution required that, for national unity purposes, all major parties with sizeable seats be represented in national and provincial government.
Among the MECs he worked with was Jacob Zuma, who was serving as MEC for economic development.
Speaking to the media after visiting the Mdlalose family in Madadeni township in Newcastle, northern KZN, Zikalala said President Cyril Ramaphosa had agreed to the provincial government’s request for a state funeral.
“We would like to thank the president for granting and confirming our (provincial government) request to honour him (Mdlalose) with a state funeral. We are truly grateful to the president for that. We cannot do enough to honour Mr Mdlalose,” he said.
Justifying why Mdlalose deserved this special send-off, Zikalala said the former premier was a person who had the best interests of the province at heart.
“We thought it important to respect him with a send-off that is dignified for the role he played, firstly, in the development of the province, but in particular in working towards achieving peace in KwaZulu-Natal. Around 1992-93, he worked with former president Jacob Zuma under the banner of the Peace and Reconstruction Foundation, working to ensure stability in the whole of the province.
“We commend him for that work, but also we commend him for the manner in which he led the first cabinet which saw all parties working together, coming together (to) ensure that they built government from scratch and that they reached out to service the communities,” Zikalala said.
The date and venue of the funeral are not yet known.