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Introductory remarks by the Hon. Mr Velenkosini Hlabisa MPL

Chairperson of the Board of Trustees

His Excellency Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP, South Africa’s finest champion and the reason we are all here this afternoon;

Members of the Board of the Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi Foundation;

Director of Programmes;

The Hon. Mrs Bongi Sithole-Moloi, KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Agriculture and Rural Development;

Mr Ngodup Dorjee, Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama;

His Excellency Ambassador Anthony Ho of the Taipei Liaison Office;

Distinguished guests from across the spectrum of Prince Buthelezi’s life experience;

Friends and fellow patriots.

It is my great privilege to introduce a Foundation that has, quite frankly, been in the making for more than fifty years.

Considering the legacy that Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi has created throughout his life’s work, a Foundation in his name, to carry forward his principles and values, could have been established decades ago. His work on conservation alone, or on education, or nation-building, on reconciliation, or constitutional democracy – or on any one of the myriad aspects of his legacy, deserves not only to be honoured, but continued into the future.

Prince Buthelezi has been one of our country’s most remarkable leaders. In the words of former President Mandela, he is “a formidable survivor”. In the words of former President Kenneth Kaunda, he showed “unwavering courage and commitment to the cause of liberation”. In the words of the late King Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu, “I am here Mageba to congratulate you on saving the Zulu Nation, even during my reign. You have served South Africa as a whole in the most dedicated manner. Future generations will build on (your) messages and philosophies…”

Friends; one could quote many other luminaries in their rich praise of uMntwana waKwaPhindangene. But perhaps such quotes are succinctly captured in the words of our seasoned journalist, Ms Jani Allan, when she simply says, “I support Buthelezi the man because he makes me believe that heroes still exist.”

In 2015, when the IFP celebrated its 40th anniversary, the Hon. Ms Baleka Mbete – who now heads the National Liberation Heritage Institute of South Africa – asked Prince Buthelezi to please ensure that our grandchildren are taught the history that he has lived. That is a task that Prince Buthelezi has been fulfilling for decades, through every interview, every speech, every article and every letter; for he willingly shares from his vast experience the truth about the past, and offers wisdom for the way ahead.

In more than seven decades of public life, in service to his country, his people and his King, Prince Buthelezi has accumulated a momentous legacy. The principles he has championed for all these years are principles that South Africa desperately needs. Going forward, if these principles were to be forgotten or neglected, South Africa’s future would be very uncertain.

Accordingly, the Party which Prince Buthelezi founded in 1975 took a resolution at its national conference in 2019 to preserve the legacy of its Founder, to ensure that his teachings, his personal and political philosophies, and his life’s work could continue to enrich the pursuit of democracy, freedom and development everywhere.

Out of this grew the concept of creating a Trust which ultimately would administer a Foundation dedicated to preserving and promoting the legacy of Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi.

Through its founding Trust Deed, the Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi Foundation was registered in 2022 as a Public Benefit and Non-Profit Organisation. The Mission Statement of the Foundation was framed as follows –

“The Foundation exists to preserve the legacy of Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi in its diverse entirety and, through his life philosophy and principles, to work towards contributing to a better South Africa, Africa and the world at large.

The Foundation strives to create a world in which every individual is empowered to reach their full potential, working on their own or collectively with others.

The Foundation works to promote virtues of nation-building, constitutionalism, justice and inclusiveness.”

In line with the mission of the Foundation, twelve Objectives are captured in our founding document. In seeking to achieve these objectives, the Foundation will both initiate activities and collaborate with like-minded organisations, through programmes, campaigns, conferences, funding and other initiatives. This, of course, requires that we actively seek donations and funding to achieve these aims.

The twelve Objectives of the Foundation speak to the life’s work of Prince Buthelezi, and they are as follows –

1. To promote peace through negotiations and the non-violent resolution of conflicts wherever they occur.

2. To promote reconciliation, social cohesion, multiculturalism and unity in diversity with the objective of nation-building, in order to heal the wounds of the past and secure a shared future in which the rule of law prevails and equality is upheld.

3. To promote education as a priority and a fundamental right, to support research and innovation, and to increase responsible mentorship.

4. To advocate equality, particularly gender equality, with an emphasis on empowering the most vulnerable members of society.

5. To champion human rights and strengthen the institutions that protect human rights.

6. To honour and uphold the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, promoting democracy and constitutionalism as the best guarantors of freedom.

7. To pursue good governance and moral leadership, and to hold those in leadership positions to account for principled behaviour and utmost integrity.

8. To support conservation initiatives that preserve our natural heritage and enhance sustainable living.

9. To drive initiatives promoting self-help and self-reliance, with a particular focus on food security.

10.  To pursue the development of legislation and other means to enshrine and promote the role, powers and functions of traditional leaders and to honour the governance role of traditional leadership within communities.

11. To promote social and economic justice for all the people of South Africa.

12. To promote The Constitution, the Bill of Rights, Multiparty Democracy, Transparency, Accountability and the principle of subsidiarity in governance.

Each of the thirteen Trustees of the Board have been tasked with becoming Initiators. They will take personal responsibility, therefore, on the basis of their specific skills and experience, for bringing projects and initiatives to the Board for consideration. Those which we deem will fulfil the Objectives of the Foundation will be wholeheartedly pursued.

And that brings us, of course, to the identity of these Initiators. I take pleasure, therefore, in introducing to you the Trustees of the Foundation.

It is my privilege to serve as the first Chairperson of the Board. I emphasise “the first” for once this Foundation begins running with a number of projects and has been seen to become efficient in its operations, it is likely that we will see alterations to the Board of Trustees to ensure that we continually increase our resource base of skills, experience and expertise specifically related to the Foundation’s Objectives.

The Board has appointed as our Acting Chief Executive Officer, Mr Senzo Mfayela, who has served our country as a Member of Parliament and who has a specific interest in conflict resolution, stability and the creation of peace. He heads up the Foundation’s Research and Documentation Committee.

Our Spokesperson, whom you have already met, is the Reverend Musa Zondi, who commands wide recognition as a paragon of integrity and moral leadership.

As is appropriate, the three children of Prince Buthelezi serve on the Board of Trustees; his son Prince Ntuthukoyezwe Zuzifa Buthelezi, who chairs the Foundation’s Governance Committee; uMntwana’s first-born Princess Phumzile Nokuphiwa Buthelezi, as well as Princess Sibuyiselwe Angela Buthelezi, whose focus is on multi-party democracy and subsidiarity in governance.

With a particular interest in advocacy for the rights of the vulnerable and gender equality, is Ms Liezl van der Merwe, who also heads up the Foundation’s Public Relations Committee.

Mr Narend Singh is our financial guru, who has accepted the unenviable task of heading up the Fundraising Committee, as well as Finance and Administration. He is the gentleman to speak to should you wish to make a donation – I am just saying.

Mr Mkhuleko Hlengwa will be a familiar face to many of you, as he so often graces our screens in chairing the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Accounts. His focus on the Foundation is on reconciliation, nation-building and healing the wounds of the past.

Mr Ishwarlall Ramlutchman is a remarkable businessman and philanthropist. Together with Mrs Thembeni kaMadlopha-Mthethwa, their focus is on driving self-help and self-reliance, specifically to ensure food security. As many you will know, this has been a primary philosophy of Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi throughout his life, for he has always sought to empower individuals and communities to forge their own futures.

Alderman Petros Ngubane is driving another of Prince Buthelezi’s life-long objectives, which is the protection of the role, powers and functions of traditional leadership within a democratic society, to ensure that traditional communities enjoy good governance and that an age-old way of life is respected.

Mr Themba Jeremiah Nkosi is a self-driven philanthropist whose focus is on education as a fundamental right, and responsible mentorship.

Ladies and gentlemen, these are the Trustees of the Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi Foundation. We are easily identifiable this afternoon by the branded shirts we are wearing. I encourage you to engage us on our work, for I have no doubt that we in this room share many values and philosophies which could be translated into shared initiatives.

I am delighted that you will be hearing this afternoon about the Foundation’s first Project in which we have become deeply involved as funders and ultimately as custodians. While I will not give too much away in terms of the details, knowing that a full presentation has been prepared, allow me simply to say that this project is preserving the full body of documentation, correspondence, speeches and artefacts that have crossed the desk of Prince Buthelezi at some point in his long public life.

Through the creation of the Buthelezi Digital Archive, the story of a remarkable chapter in our country’s history will be told through a first-hand account which will be accessible to anyone with an interest in Prince Buthelezi’s legacy, or simply in a history in which he was – more often than not – a key protagonist.

I would like to echo the words of our Spokesperson, the Reverend Zondi, who invited you to visit the Foundation’s website, and I also hope that you will visit the Foundation’s offices and exhibition centre which are presently being designed and prepared here in Durban.

Finally, ladies and gentlemen, I must mention that the Foundation will be hosting its inaugural public lecture in Johannesburg in October. We intend to use spaces like that to guide the national debate towards hope and a restored morality in South Africa.

That, we feel, would be a fine tribute to a man whom we deeply admire. We must thank Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi for allowing us to continue his work in this manner. May it birth many partnerships and projects to take our country forward.

I thank you.

This speech was given at the Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi Foundation Launch on 1 September 2022 at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre in Durban and published on on 2 September 2022.