Condolences have been pouring in since the announcement of the passing of the long-serving Traditional Prime Minister of the Zulu Nation and Inkosi of the Buthelezi Clan, Prince Mangosuthu Gatsha Buthelezi, a parliamentarian and founding leader of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP).
Last night, President Cyril Ramaphosa released a statement announcing the veteran politician’s death, sparking a series of condolatory messages from all corners of South Africa.
Buthelezi, who had been hospitalized several times in the past month, passed on in the early hours of yesterday, just two weeks after the celebration of his 95th birthday.
“It is with utter grief that we, the family of Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP, announce the passing of South Africa’s truest champion and greatest servant, our father, uMntwana wa KwaPhindangene.
“In this devastating moment, we thank God Almighty for His faithfulness and grace, knowing with certainty that uMntwana has been embraced by His Lord. He quietly and painlessly stepped into eternity in the early hours of this morning,” said Princess Phumzile Buthelezi, MP, on behalf of the family.
The Princess stated that the family would engage Zulu King Misuzulu kaZwelithini, the Buthelezi Clan, Ramaphosa and the IFP leadership regarding funeral arrangements.
“Further details in this regard will be announced in due course. As we come to terms with this unspeakable trauma, we as the family request that our privacy be respected,” she said.
Ramaphosa said Buthelezi’s passing saddened him.
“Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi has been an outstanding leader in the political and cultural life of our nation, including the ebbs and flows of our liberation struggle, the transition which secured our freedom in 1994 and our democratic dispensation. Prince Buthelezi served as the democratic South Africa’s first Minister of Home Affairs.
“My thoughts and prayers and those of government and our nation go out to the Royal Household who have been blessed to share uMntwana waKwaPhindangene’s extended lifetime with him, as well as to the Zulu Nation and the leadership and membership of the Inkatha Freedom Party,” said Ramaphosa.
IFP leader Velenkosini Hlabisa said the party and its members were still reeling from the sad news.
“It is with the deepest sorrow that we have received news from the family of Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP that the Lord has called His servant home. We are devastated by this unspeakable loss to the IFP, the Zulu Nation, our country, and the greater cause of justice and peace.
“Recognizing that the deepest pain is reserved for the Buthelezi family, the IFP has extended our condolences and full support in this most difficult time. We will defer to the family on all arrangements to honor Prince Buthelezi, with assurances that in the days, months and years to come, the IFP will place the legacy of our founder at the center of all our work in the service of South Africa,” said Hlabisa.
ANC provincial secretary in KwaZulu-Natal, Bheki Mtolo, said despite his old age, Buthelezi was still a valuable well of wisdom to the nation.
“While we appreciated the advancement in his age and the condition of his health, we were still hopeful that he was going to recover and continue to fulfill his important roles in society. He was a distinguished statesman, and more importantly, he was a committed Zulu Traditional Prime Minister until his last days.
“His untimely death is a depletion of matured leadership that shaped KwaZulu-Natal and the country as a whole. We are calling upon leaders of all faiths to join hands and pray for his family. Shenge’s resilience throughout his stay in hospital demonstrated his perseverance in the face of adversity, a remarkable trait of his extraordinary life,” said Mtolo.
Mtolo said the provincial structure of the party has mandated Kwazulu-Natal Premier Nomusa Dube-Ncube and her cabinet to request Ramaphosa to accord Prince Buthelezi a Category 1 Funeral.