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It has been mere days since the passing of the IFP’s Founder and President Emeritus, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, and the nation is yet to come to terms with its loss. Within the IFP, we feel his absence keenly. There is deep pain, but also a profound sense of gratitude.
We are grateful to our Founder for having given us such a strong foundation of principles to guide us in the next chapter. We are grateful for the immutable legacy he leaves, of patriotism, hope and leadership. But we are also deeply grateful to the people of South Africa, and to friends throughout the world, for rushing to comfort us in this most painful time.
The IFP has been buoyed by the affection of a nation for uMntwana wa KwaPhindangene. It has been a blessing to hear the tributes paid and the memories shared of a man who changed lives for good. Prince Buthelezi gave his life to the service of South Africa, and his work contributed enormously to our liberation, development and stability. We owe the strength of our constitutional democracy largely to the principled stands taken by Prince Buthelezi.
On behalf of the IFP, I thank the many delegations who travelled to Ulundi to offer condolences to the Party and to the family. The IFP has been focussed on supporting Prince Buthelezi’s children and grandchildren, as well as the Zulu Royal Family, in their loss. It has been enormously comforting to see the support extended to us as a Party. The countless messages of condolences have touched our hearts.
When Prince Buthelezi stepped down from the presidency of the IFP in August 2019, after leading us for 44 years, he spoke of the burden that had been lifted from his shoulders. At the same time, however, he accepted our Party placing a new burden on him, to guide and advise us as President Emeritus. He said: “Having served my country all my life, I will continue serving – for whatever time is left to me – with a sense of privilege and humility.”
The IFP benefitted from our Founder’s selfless love of his country. It has been a balm to our souls to witness that country reciprocating his love. We thank South Africa’s leadership and the people of South Africa from all walks of life who have honoured Prince Buthelezi in a manner befitting his life’s work.
As the IFP continues that work, we are grateful to do so in partnership with those whom Prince Buthelezi called “the people of goodwill”. We thank you for your incredible support as we mourn, knowing that together we will pick up the work placed in our hands by one of our truest champions.
Issued by President of the IFP and Leader of the Official Opposition in KwaZulu-Natal Velenkosini Hlabisa