By Ashok Ramsarup :: Tributes have been pouring in following the death of legendary South African politician Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi on Saturday morning. Buthelezi who was the longest-serving political figure died at the age of 95. He founded the opposition political party Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP).
The IFP National Executive Committee (NEC) has suspended all its activities ahead of the funeral of the former leader. Currently, the NEC is discussing funeral plans at its special meeting.
IFP national spokesperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa says a special National Council meeting gets underway tomorrow and an announcement will be made on the details of the memorial service to pay homage to Buthelezi.
Hlengwa said Buthelezi had been a tower of strength and dedicated his life to serving the people of South Africa. He said his death was a profound loss to the IFP. Buthelezi led the party for over four decades until a few years ago when Velenkosini Hlabisa took over as leader.
Member of the National Council of IFP and Provincial KwaZulu Natal Legislature Les Govender said Buthelezi had an impeccable political history. Govender found Buthelezi to be a humble and inspirational man. He said: “Buthelezi embraced all cultures, respected all religions as he worked closely in unifying people of all walks of life and creating Ubuntu for a better South Africa”.
One of the fundamentals, he said that Buthelezi worked vigorously towards social cohesion and nation-building and ultimately tirelessly worked towards education for all.
He said Buthelezi worked closely with conservationist Ian Player in the protection of wildlife as one of his goals.
Buthelezi led a life of selfless service to South Africa in his capacity as the Traditional Prime Minister to the Zulu Monarch and Nation, as well as the Founder, President Emeritus, and Leader of the IFP.
In Parliament, IFP Caucus Chairperson Russel Cebekhulu said Buthelezi was always a voice of reason. “He was politically astute beyond measure and an all-round leader, par excellence. He will be remembered for his unwavering definiteness of purpose in building a democratic and free South Africa,” said Cebekhulu.
He added: “His leadership, guidance, and occasional stern admonition when taking principled ‘points of order’ at times when thek National Assembly descended into chaos, were admired by South Africa at large”.
IFP Chief Whip Narend Singh described his kindness to all, and the fondness and love he had for his IFP Members of Caucus and IFP support staff in Parliament, as well as to all office bearers and staff of Parliament was greatly admired.
Singh said: “We grieve collectively beyond words, for a loss that is immeasurable. However, in honour of Buthelezi’s extraordinary life and legacy, we pledge ourselves to continue in his footsteps and fulfill the vision he held for a unified, peaceful, free, and prosperous South Africa.
In paying tribute to Buthelezi by the presiding officers of Parliament, led by the speaker of the National Assembly and chairperson of the National Council of Provinces, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said: ”It is heavy hearts to pay tribute to a towering figure in our nation’s history and a beloved Member of Parliament, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi.
Mapisa-Nqakula said: “Buthelezi had left behind a legacy that will forever inspire us and guide our path as a nation.
“His contributions to Parliament were nothing short of remarkable. He embarked on this parliamentary journey in 1994 in the country’s fledgling democracy. Since the inception of our democratic rule, from that moment, Buthelezi became a guiding light, illuminating our legislative halls with his wisdom and unwavering commitment to serving our great nation”, she added.
The University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) has joined the nation in commemorating the remarkable life of Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi.
In a statement, the university described Buthelezi as a statesman, politician, traditional leader, and Prime Minister to the Zulu Nation, as he had left an indelible imprint on the landscape of South Africa’s history.
Prince Buthelezi played a pivotal role in South Africa’s arduous journey to democracy. His political acumen and leadership contributed to the fight against apartheid, shaping the country’s transition to a democratic state, the statement said.
As an academic institution, UKZN is particularly grateful for Prince Buthelezi’s significant contributions to education. Among his most notable achievements in this sphere was the establishment of the Mangosuthu University of Technology, which fittingly bears his name.
Buthelezi was South Africa’s longest-serving Minister of Home Affairs, during the presidencies of Nelson.