Renowned South African political figure Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, a prominent leader during the nation’s transition from apartheid to democracy, has passed away at the age of 95. President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the news, reflecting on Buthelezi’s complex legacy and his significant role in shaping South Africa’s history.
A Controversial Political Figure in South Africa
Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, known for his leadership of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), played a pivotal role in South Africa’s political landscape. Here are the key details:
- Founding the IFP: In 1994, as South Africa transitioned from apartheid to democracy, Buthelezi founded the Inkatha Freedom Party, which became the country’s third-largest political party.
- Early Life and Career: Prince Buthelezi’s political journey began as a member of the ANC Youth League. However, he later diverged from the ANC and formed the IFP, which initially aligned with the ANC but later became embroiled in violent clashes with ANC supporters during the 1980s and early 1990s.
- Role in Apartheid Era: During the apartheid era, Buthelezi headed the administrative region of Zululand, one of the “homelands” created by the apartheid government. These homelands were part of the policy of separate development, and Buthelezi’s leadership led to accusations of collaboration with apartheid authorities, causing friction with liberation movements like the ANC.
- Pre-Election Violence: The violent clashes between the IFP and the ANC in the 1980s and early 1990s were among the bloodiest in South African history. These tensions culminated in the Shell House Massacre in 1994, where 19 IFP supporters were shot and killed by ANC security guards during a protest.
A Complex Legacy
Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi’s legacy remains a subject of debate and discussion in South African history. While he opposed apartheid, his positions on controversial issues, such as his opposition to international sanctions against apartheid and support for free markets, put him at odds with ANC leaders.
Mourning and Funeral Arrangements
President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that arrangements for Prince Buthelezi’s mourning and funeral will be determined in consultation with the Zulu royal family. His passing marks the end of an era in South African politics, leaving behind a legacy that encompasses both praise and criticism.