Throngs of people, mainly leaders and supporters of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) on Wednesday morning gathered in Ulundi for the memorial service of the late Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi.
NEWS: People have started streaming into Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi regional stadium in Ulundi, where the IFP will host a memorial service for the Zulu traditional prime minister and former minister of Home Affairs. @IOL pic.twitter.com/dvvLR175sh— Sihle Mavuso (@ZANewsFlash) September 13, 2023
The memorial is organised by his party which he founded in 1975 and led for 44 years and died as its President Emeritus, a position that was bestowed on him in August 2019 when he passed the baton to Velenkosini Hlabisa.
The party organised the service to celebrate the life and times of Buthelezi as he has been accorded a state funeral that will take place on Saturday.
As a result, President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to deliver his eulogy.
NEWS: KwaMashu hostel dwellers in Durban engaged in an early dawn protest to demand that the government provide them with buses to attend Saturday's funeral of Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi. They argue that since this is a state funeral, the government must bus them to Ulundi— Sihle Mavuso (@ZANewsFlash) September 13, 2023
The main speaker at the memorial service is expected to be Hlabisa with the family and others also sharing the podium.
Among the high-profile mourners are members of the Zulu royal family, IFP mayors, members of the Buthelezi royal family of Mahlabathini.
WATCH: IFP President Velenkosini Hlabisa tells a delegation of the ANC led by deputy president Paul Mashatile that the ball regarding the issue of reconciliation between the IFP and the ANC is now in the court of governing party. The ANC was at KwaPhindangene to mourn. @IOL pic.twitter.com/FYQuycoXeW— Sihle Mavuso (@ZANewsFlash) September 13, 2023
The Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi regional stadium which is hosting the day-long memorial service has been a hive of activities as IFP supporters from KwaZulu-Natal and other parts of the country began streaming in as early as 6am.
Some of the mourners came clad in IFP regalia and others in Zulu traditional wear despite the cold weather in the northern KwaZulu-Natal town.
Notably, another large section of the mourners who graced the memorial service were clad in the uniform of the boys and girls scouts uniform which over the years has been synonymous with the IFP.
Other than being a leader of the IFP, Buthelezi was also the traditional prime minister of the Zulu monarch and nation. During his lifetime, he served three Zulu kings - King Bhekuzulu, King Goodwill Zwelithini and the incumbent King Misuzulu.
WATCH: Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi’s son, Prince Zuzifa tells ANC mourners at KwaPhindangene on Tuesday how doors were slammed on his face merely because of his surname. He said others taught that being Buthelezi’s son opened doors for him, yet that was not the case. @IOL pic.twitter.com/FYwfNuHcSl— Sihle Mavuso (@ZANewsFlash) September 13, 2023
While waiting inside the large marquee for the service to begin, the mourners were kept busy by the archived music of Princess Magogo, the daughter of King Dinuzulu who was also the beloved mother of Buthelezi.
Occasionally, the big screens would beam a documentary about the life and times of Buthelezi and in one clip he speaks about how he fought for the release of Nelson Mandela from prison.
The memorial service is expected to conclude around 3pm.