Johannesburg - IFP leader Velenkosini Hlabisa disapproves of those who want to tarnish the memory of the late Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi.
Buthelezi died in the early hours of Saturday at his home in KwaZulu-Natal. It had been almost two weeks since he celebrated his 95th birthday.
Amid the announcement, a number of people, including media houses, accused Buthelezi, well known as Prince of KwaPhindangene, the traditional prime minister of the Zulu monarchy and nation, and the founder of the IFP, of leaving behind a legacy marred by violence that tore through townships in the country in the late ’80s and ’90s.
Hlabisa said it was unfair that Buthelezi has been portrayed as the face of violence while the ANC remains blameless.
Hlabisa described Buthelezi as a “peacemaker”.
“The truth is the majority of people as well as stakeholders (political parties or civil groups) speak with one voice to acknowledge the role Buthelezi played in our country. Very few people are opportunistic and use this opportunity to point out Buthelezi as someone who was involved alone in violence.
“You will agree with me that the IFP was involved in violence with the ANC. I am not hearing anyone say former ANC leader Oliver Tambo or former president Nelson Mandela was a killer because it was at the time of these leaders that the two organisations got involved in black-on-black violence,” said Hlabisa.
He said a few of those people “are reckless”.
Political analyst Sakhile Hadebe, speaking in an interview with a broadcaster, said he thought that all South Africans should agree that Buthelezi was “a very complex character in nature”.
“Why am I saying this? Look at his legacy; you cannot afford to be one-dimensional when assessing his life in history. It is known that Buthelezi has been at the centre of the royal family as prime minister for a very long time; he served three kings.
“He is a founder of the IFP, and during the 1970s he was a member of the ANC Youth League. After the fallout from the ANC and IFP, he had close ties with the apartheid regime. It is interesting how he shifted from being an anti-apartheid activist to an apartheid collaborator. He is a statesman; one cannot take that away from him,” Hadebe said.
Meanwhile, senior members of the AmaZulu Royal Family visited the home of Buthelezi on behalf of King Misuzulu kaZwelithini. The week of mourning officially began yesterday, after the government announced that Buthelezi would be buried this Friday.
Because of customs and tradition, King Misuzulu kaZwelithini will not attend the funeral service.
Those who visited to pay tribute were the wives of the late King Zwelithini, his siblings, King Misuzulu’s siblings, those who contested who should be on the throne, and those who supported Prince Simakade.
IFP secretary-general Siphosethu Ngcobo said it meant a lot that members of the royal family came in numbers to pay respects to Buthelezi.
“For the royal family to come to his home to mourn and try to calm everybody, to us, it has been a very big moment. We had some exchanges with the princes in particular, and we hope from here we will be able to move forward,” said Ngcobo.
He said he believed that Buthelezi’s death would be a catalyst to try to solve a number of things, not only in the royal family, “but in the party and everybody else”.
Ngcobo said the memorial service would take place on Wednesday at the Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi Stadium. The stadium will accommodate thousands of mourners, including family, regiments, amatshitshi (maidens), tourists, “politicians and more” and the funeral would take place on Friday.