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Mangosuthu Buthelezi

South African politician and Zulu prince

Died when: 95 years 13 days (1140 months)
Star Sign: Virgo


Mangosuthu Buthelezi

Prince Mangosuthu Gatsha Buthelezi (born 27 August 1928) was a South African politician and Zulu traditional leader who was currently a Member of Parliament and the traditional prime minister to the Zulu royal family.

He was Chief Minister of the KwaZulu bantustan during apartheid and founded the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) in 1975.He also served as Minister of Home Affairs from 1994 to 2004.

Buthelezi was one of the most prominent black politicians of the apartheid era and his legacy in that period remains controversial.

He was the sole political leader of the KwaZulu government, entering when it was still the native reserve of Zululand in 1970 and remaining in office until it was abolished in 1994.

Critics described his administration as a de facto one-party state, intolerant of political opposition and dominated by Inkatha (now the IFP), Buthelezi's political movement.

In parallel to his mainstream political career, Buthelezi held the chieftaincy of the Buthelezi clan and was traditional prime minister to three successive Zulu kings, beginning with King Cyprian Bhekuzulu in 1954.

He was himself born into the Zulu royal family; his maternal great-grandfather was King Cetshwayo kaMpande, whom he played in the 1964 film Zulu.

While leader of KwaZulu, Buthelezi both strengthened and appropriated the public profile of the monarchy, reviving it as a symbol of Zulu nationalism.

Bolstered by royal support, state resources, and Buthelezi's personal popularity, Inkatha became one of the largest political organisations in the country.

During the same period, Buthelezi publicly opposed apartheid and often took a patently obstructive stance toward the apartheid government.He lobbied consistently for the release of Nelson Mandela and staunchly refused to accept the nominal independence which the government offered to KwaZulu, correctly judging that it was a superficial independence.

However, Buthelezi was derided in some quarters for participating in the bantustan system, a central pillar of apartheid, and for his moderate stance on such issues as free markets, armed struggle, and international sanctions.

He became a bĂȘte noire of young activists in the Black Consciousness movement and was repudiated by many in the African National Congress (ANC).

A former ANC Youth League member, Buthelezi had aligned himself and Inkatha with the ANC in the 1970s, but in the 1980s their relationship became increasingly acrimonious.

It emerged in the 1990s that Buthelezi had accepted money and military assistance from the apartheid regime for Inkatha, arguably stoking the political violence in KwaZulu and Natal in the 1980s and 1990s.

He also played a complicated role during the negotiations to end apartheid, for which he helped set the framework as early as 1974 with the Mahlabatini Declaration of Faith.

During the Congress for a Democratic South Africa, the IFP under Buthelezi lobbied for a federal system in South Africa with strong guarantees for regional autonomy and the status of Zulu traditional leaders.

This proposal did not take hold and Buthelezi became aggrieved by what he perceived as the growing marginalisation both of the IFP and of himself personally, as negotiations were increasingly dominated by the ANC and the white National Party government.

He established the Concerned South Africans Group with other conservatives, withdrew from the negotiations, and launched a boycott of the 1994 general election, South Africa's first under universal suffrage.

However, despite fears that Buthelezi would upend the peaceful transition entirely, Buthelezi and the IFP not only participated in the election but also joined the Government of National Unity formed afterwards by newly elected President Mandela.

Buthelezi served as Minister of Home Affairs under Mandela and under his successor, Thabo Mbeki, despite near-continuous tensions between the IFP and the governing ANC.

In subsequent years, the IFP struggled to expand its popular base beyond the new province of KwaZulu-Natal, which had absorbed KwaZulu in 1994.

As the party's electoral fortunes declined, Buthelezi survived attempts by rivals within the party to unseat him.He remained the IFP's president until the party's 35th National General Conference in August 2019, when he declined to seek re-election and was succeeded by Velenkosini Hlabisa.

In the 2019 general election, he was elected to a sixth consecutive term as a Member of Parliament for the IFP.

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