Mangosuthu Buthelezi

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Mangosuthu Buthelezi
President of the Inkatha Freedom Party
In office
21 March 1975 – 25 August 2019
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byVelenkosini Hlabisa
Minister of Home Affairs
In office
10 May 1994 – 13 July 2004
PresidentNelson Mandela
Thabo Mbeki
Preceded byDanie Schutte
Succeeded byNosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula
Member of the National Assembly of South Africa
Assumed office
April 1994
Chief Minister of KwaZulu
In office
1 February 1977 – 26 April 1994
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byPosition abolished
Chief Executive Councillor of KwaZulu
In office
April 1972 – 31 January 1977
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byPosition abolished
Chief Executive Officer of the Zululand Territorial Authority
In office
9 June 1970 – 1 April 1972
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byPosition abolished
Traditional Prime Minister
of the Zulu Kingdom
Assumed office
since 1954
MonarchCyprian Bhekuzulu, Goodwill Zwelithini, Misuzulu Zulu
Preceded byInkosi Mathole Buthelezi
Inkosi of the Buthelezi Clan
in Mahlabathini
Assumed office
since 1953
Preceded byInkosi Mathole Buthelezi
Personal details
Mangosuthu Gatsha Buthelezi

(1928-08-27) 27 August 1928 (age 94)
Mahlabathini, Union of South Africa
Political party
Irene Audrey Thandekile Mzila
(m. 1952; died 2019)
ChildrenZuzifa Buthelezi Ntuthukoyezwe Buthelezi Mandisa Buthelezi Phumaphesheya Buthelezi Angela Buthelezi (daughter) Tutu Buthelezi
ResidenceKwaZulu Natal
  • Politician
  • Zulu tribal leader
  • Zulu chief
  • anti-apartheid activist
Known forFounder of the Inkatha Freedom Party
(founded in 1975)
WebsiteOfficial website
Buthelezi in 1983

Prince Mangosuthu Gatsha Buthelezi (born 27 August 1928) is a South African politician and Zulu tribal leader who founded what became the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) in 1975, and was Chief Minister of the KwaZulu bantustan until 1994. He was Minister of Home Affairs of South Africa from 1994 to 2004. He is often referred to as Shenge, which is part of the Buthelezi clan praises.[1] Buthelezi, a member of Zulu royalty, is also the Traditional Prime Minister of the Zulu nation.

Throughout most of the apartheid era, Buthelezi was considered one of the foremost black leaders. He played a key role in creating a framework for a negotiated solution to South Africa's racial conflict, signing the landmark Mahlabatini Declaration of Faith in 1974 with Harry Schwarz. During the CODESA negotiations of the early 1990s, he represented the Inkatha. Following the introduction of the universal suffrage in the 1994 general election, Buthelezi led the IFP to join the government of national unity, led by Nelson Mandela. Buthelezi served as Minister of Home Affairs until 2004. He continued to serve as both leader of the IFP and an MP, retaining his seat in the 2014 general election.

On 20 January 2019, Buthelezi announced that he would not seek re-election to another term as party president of the IFP. The party elected Velenkosini Hlabisa as his successor at the party's 2019 National General Conference.[2]

Buthelezi played King Cetshwayo kaMpande (his own maternal great-grandfather) in the film Zulu (1964).

Early life[edit]

Mangosuthu was born on 27 August 1928, in Mahlabathini, KwaZulu, to Chief Mathole Buthelezi and Princess Magogo kaDinuzulu, the sister of King Solomon kaDinuzulu, and daughter of King Dinuzulu. He was educated at Impumalanga Primary School, Mahashini, Nongoma from 1933 to 1943, then at Adams College, Amanzimtoti from 1944 to 1947.[3]

Mangosuthu studied at the University of Fort Hare from 1948 to 1950, where he joined the African National Congress Youth League and came into contact with Robert Mugabe and Robert Sobukwe. He was expelled from the university after student boycotts. He later completed his degree at the University of Natal.


Buthelezi inherited the chieftainship of the large Buthelezi tribe in 1953: a position he still holds today. In 1963 and 1964, he served as adviser on the film Zulu about the Battle of Rorke's Drift. Buthelezi also acted in the film, playing the role of his real-life great-grandfather, King Cetshwayo kaMpande.

In 1970, Buthelezi was appointed leader of the KwaZulu territorial authority and in 1976 became chief minister of the quasi-independent Bantustan of KwaZulu. The emerging Black Consciousness Movement of the 1970s branded him an Apartheid regime collaborator, because of his strong anti-Communist beliefs. However, he consistently declined homeland independence and political deals until Nelson Mandela was released from prison and the ban on the African National Congress was lifted.

Inkatha Freedom Party[edit]

In 1975, Buthelezi started Inkatha National Cultural Liberation Movement with the blessing of the African National Congress (ANC), but broke away from the ANC in 1979 and his relationship with the ANC sharply deteriorated. He was encouraged by Oliver Tambo, the President of the ANC mission-in-exile, to revive the cultural movement. In the mid-1970s, it was clear that many in the Black Consciousness Movement were at odds with Buthelezi's politics. For instance, during the funeral of Robert Sobukwe he was barred from attending the service since they argued that he was a notable collaborator of the National Party government. In 1979, Inkosi Buthelezi and the Inkatha Yenkululeko Yesizwe, as it was then known, severed ties with the main ANC since the ANC favoured military strategies by employing the use of uMkhonto we Sizwe, "Spear of the Nation". The meeting that was held in London between the two organisations did not succeed in ironing out differences.

In 1982, Buthelezi opposed the National Party government's plan to cede the Ingwavuma region in northern Natal to the Government of Swaziland. The courts decided in his favour on the grounds that the government had not followed its own Black Constitution Act of 1972, which required consultation with the people of the region. He was also instrumental in setting up the teacher training and nursing colleges throughout the late-1970s and the early-1980s. He requested Harry Oppenheimer, his great friend and ally, to establish Mangosuthu Technikon in Umlazi, south of Durban. He maintained a friendship with journalist Jani Allen.[4]

Mahlabatini Declaration of Faith[edit]

On 4 January 1974, Transvaal leader of the United Party, Harry Schwarz, met with Mangosuthu Buthelezi and signed the Mahlabatini Declaration of Faith. They agreed on a five-point plan for racial peace in South Africa. The declaration's purpose was to provide a blueprint for government of South Africa for racial peace in South Africa. It called for negotiations involving all peoples, to draw up constitutional proposals stressing opportunity for all with a Bill of Rights to safeguard these rights. It suggested that the federal concept was the appropriate framework for such changes to take place. It also first affirmed that political change must take place through non-violent means.[5]

The declaration was the first of such agreements by acknowledged black and white leaders in South Africa that affirmed to these principles. The commitment to the peaceful pursuit of political change was declared at a time when neither the National Party nor African National Congress were looking for peaceful solutions or dialogue. The declaration was heralded by the English speaking press as a breakthrough in race relations in South Africa. The declaration was endorsed by several chief ministers of the black homelands, including Cedric Phatudi (Lebowa), Lucas Mangope (Bophuthatswana) and Hudson Ntsanwisi (Gazankulu).[6] The declaration also received praise from liberal figures such as Alan Paton.

Paramilitary accusations[edit]

Buthelezi was said to have been working with General Magnus Malan in training the youth of Ulundi, and other parts of the erstwhile KwaZulu, in setting up a paramilitary unit ostensibly since he feared that a lot of property and life were lost during the conflicts of 1984 to 1994. He was even implicated in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report as a person who was responsible for the gross violations of human rights, but before the report was published he took them to court and before the court's ruling, Buthelezi and the Truth Commission, agreed to settle out of court.

Meeting with Mandela and the elections[edit]

Buthelezi at first refused to stand at the 1994 general election, but chose to enter at the very last minute; after a meeting held on 8 April, where Mandela and De Klerk tried to sway the Zulu king, Goodwill Zwelithini, from his dependence on Buthelezi by offering him a guarantee of special status of the Zulu monarchy after the election. The offer was not immediately successful, but Buthelezi seemed sympathetic to the idea. The foreign mediation team led by former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and former UK Foreign Secretary Peter Carrington were pivotal in reaching a compromise, and convinced the IFP leader to give up his boycott of the election. Buthelezi therefore signed an agreement with De Klerk and Mandela that guaranteed the ceremonial status of the Zulu king and was promised that foreign mediators would examine Inkatha's claims to more autonomy in the Zulu area. It was probably too late though, because Buthelezi was losing support fast, and as a consequence, his party only narrowly won the elections in KwaZulu-Natal. In May 1994, Buthelezi was appointed Minister of Home Affairs in the first post-apartheid government, a position he retained following the 1999 general election. He was appointed as acting president a number of times during this period.[citation needed]

Though his appointment in the Government of National Unity was a kind of catharsis, King Zwelithini openly lambasted Buthelezi and told many members of the ruling party that he was like Mandela because for 24 years of KwaZulu government, he could not operate freely. Buthelezi countered that by saying that Zwelithini should not interfere in political matters, rather the Zulu monarchy should be modelled along the same lines as the British royal family. Because of the IFP's late entry to the election, stickers printed with their candidates' names were added to the ballot papers.[citation needed]

Demise of Government of National Unity[edit]

Prior to the 2004 general election, then President Thabo Mbeki refused to sign into law Buthelezi's attempt to overhaul the immigration laws. For the first time in South African history, a Cabinet Minister took the President to court in an attempt to secure stricter immigration regulations.

Following the 2004 election, Mbeki offered Buthelezi the Deputy Presidency, which he refused, as in exchange the IFP would have to relinquish the Premiership of the IFP-dominated province of KwaZulu-Natal. From 1994, South Africa had been governed by a multi-party Government of National Unity, consisting of the ANC (Tripartite Alliance), the National Party and the IFP. By the time of the 1999 general election, a coalition agreement was not constitutionally required, but the majority ANC again invited the IFP to join it in government. After the 2004 election, with Buthelezi declining the offer of the Deputy Presidency, the IFP left the coalition government and sat in the opposition benches.


  • Chief Executive Officer of the Zulu Territorial Authority (9 June 1970 – 31 March 1972).
  • Chief Executive Councillor of the KwaZulu Government (1 April 1972 – 31 January 1977).
  • President of Inkatha Freedom Party (21 March 1975 – 25 August 2019).
  • Chief Minister of the KwaZulu Government (1 February 1977 – 26 April 1994).
  • Member of the National Assembly of South Africa (since 29 April 1994).
  • South African Minister of Home Affairs (10 May 1994 – 13 July 2004).
  • Chairman of South African Black Alliance, that consisted of the Labour Party led by Mr Sonny Leon, the Reform Party led by Mr Yellan Chinsamy, the Dikwakwetla Party of the Free State, and Inyandza led by Mr Enos Mabuza.
  • Chancellor Emeritus of the University of Zululand.
  • Member of University of KwaZulu-Natal Foundation and Alumni.
  • Chairman of Traditional Leaders in the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature.
  • Traditional Prime Minister of the Zulu Nation


  • King's Cross Award awarded by King Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu 1989.
  • Key to the City of Birmingham awarded by Alabama 1989.
  • Freedom of Ngwelezana awarded by Ngwelezana 1988.
  • Unity, Justice and Peace Award by Inkatha Youth Brigade 1988.
  • Magna Award for Outstanding Leadership awarded by Hong Kong 1988.
  • Honorary Freedom of the City of Pinetown awarded by City of Pinetown, Kwazulu-Natal 1986.
  • Honorary LLD Boston University 1986.
  • Nadaraja Award by Indian Academy of SA 1985.
  • Man of the Year by Financial Mail 1985.
  • Newsmaker of the Year by Pretoria Press Club 1985.
  • Honorary LLD Tampa University Florida 1985.
  • Apostle of Peace (Rastriya Pita) by Pandit Satyapal Sharma of India 1983.
  • George Meany Human Rights Award by The Council of Industrial Organisation of the American Federation of Labour (AFL-CIO) 1982.
  • French National Order of Merit 1981.
  • Honorary LLD University of Cape Town 1978.
  • Citation for Leadership by District of Columbia Council United States of America 1976.
  • Honorary LLD by Unizul 1976.
  • Knight Commander of the Star of Africa for Outstanding Leadership by President Tolbert Liberia 1975.
  • Newsmaker of the Year by SA Society of Journalists 1973.
  • Man of the Year by Institute of Management Consultants of SA 1973.


He married Irene Audrey Thandekile Mzila on 2 July 1952 who was born in 1929 and died on 25 March 2019 and they had three sons and five daughters.[7]


  • Ben Temkin, Buthelezi: A Biography, London/Portland, Or: Frank Cass, 2003.
  • Role of a Foreign Direct Investment in South Africa's Foreign Trade Policy Publication 1999.
  • Jack Shepherd Smith, Buthelezi: The Biography. 1988.
  • South Africa: Anatomy of Black-White Power-Sharing: Collected speeches in Europe. Emmcon, 1986.
  • Usuthu! Cry Peace! Co-author Wessel de Kock. 1986.
  • The Constitution: an article in Leadership in South Africa. 1983.
  • Der Auftrag des Gatsha Buthelezi Friedliche Befreiung in Südafrika? Biography Contributor, 1981.
  • South Africa: My Vision of the Future. London, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1980.
  • Power is Ours. Book 1979.
  • Gatsha Buthelezi: Zulu Statesman. Biography Contributor Ben Temkin, 1976.
  • Viewpoint: Transkei Independence. Book Author Black Community Programmes, 1976.
  • Prof ZK Mathews: His Death, The South African Outlook. Book Lovedale Press, 1975.
  • Inkatha Book Reality 1975 bi-weekly column syndicated to SA morning newspapers Author, 1974.
  • KwaZulu Development Black Community Programmes, 1972.


  1. ^ "'A Cool Man on a Lion Hunt,' South Africa's John Vorster Tries to Head Off a Race War". Archived from the original on 12 May 2019. Retrieved 12 May 2019.
  2. ^ Modise, Kgomotso (20 January 2019). "IFP's Buthelezi announces won't seek re-election". Eyewitness News. Johannesburg. Archived from the original on 21 January 2019. Retrieved 12 November 2021.
  3. ^ Adams College Archived 27 September 2013 at the Wayback Machine, Historic Schools Restoration Project, accessed 3 August 2013.
  4. ^ HOW WE MET - JANI ALLAN AND CHIEF BUTHELEZI The Independent. 6 April 1997.
  5. ^ Mitchell, Thomas (2002). Indispensable traitors: liberal parties in settler conflicts. Praeger. ISBN 0-313-31774-7.
  6. ^ Muriel Horrell, Dudley Horner, Jane Hudson, "A Survey of Race Relations in South Africa" Archived 9 November 2017 at the Wayback Machine, South African Institute of Race Relations.
  7. ^ "UQconnect, The University of Queensland". Archived from the original on 16 January 2003. Retrieved 8 January 2018.

Further reading[edit]

  • Ben Temkin, Buthelezi: A Biography (London, 1976, 2013).

External links[edit]

Political offices
New title Chief Executive Councillor of KwaZulu
Succeeded by
as Chief Minister
Preceded by
as chief executive Councillor
Chief Minister of KwaZulu
Succeeded byas Premier of KwaZulu-Natal
Preceded by Minister of Home Affairs
Succeeded by
Party political offices
New political party President of the Inkatha Freedom Party