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Introductory Remarks by Hon. Velenkosini Hlabisa MPL

Chairman of the Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi Foundation

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His Excellency, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi,

Hon. Brahmarishi Mohanji,

Board Members of the Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi Foundation,

Representatives of the Mohanji Foundation and Centre of Benevolence in South Africa,

Distinguished guests,

Community members,

All those joining us today via the live stream,

I greet you on behalf of the Board of the Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi Foundation, as we gather here to commemorate and celebrate Earth Day.

Unlike Earth Day, which was first commemorated in 1970, and is familiar to people across the globe, I would like to take a few moments to introduce the Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi Foundation, which was established much more recently.

The Foundation was launched right here in KwaZulu-Natal, on 1 September 2022, in Durban. At the heart of the Foundation’s vision and mission is the exceptional life and legacy of His Excellency, the Prince of KwaPhindangene. The Prince of KwaPhindangene is a multi-faceted individual, who has excelled and inspired in all his many roles: as traditional Prime Minister to the Zulu Monarch and Nation; as Acting President of the Republic of South Africa more than twenty-two times; as Minister of Home Affairs; as Chief Minister of the former KwaZulu Government; as liberation stalwart; as the Founder and leader of the Inkatha Freedom Party; as the former Chancellor of the University of Zululand; as a man of faith and a true servant of the people and also, of particular relevance today, a life-long conservationist.

Although Prince Buthelezi’s name might be more familiar in relation to his political achievements, it would be remiss of anyone to neglect to mention his deep love and respect for the environment, as well as his dedication and commitment to protecting the natural world, and all its flora and fauna.

It is because of this that the Foundation adopted as one of its 13 objectives, the commitment to “support conservation initiatives that preserve our natural heritage and enhance sustainable living”.

To achieve these objectives, the Foundation is open to partnerships with like-minded organisations.

The Mohanji Foundation and Centre of Benevolence in South Africa is one such organisation. Their goal of creating a better world for the future, and their simple motto – “Adding Value to the World” – resonate deeply with the Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi Foundation.

In addition to our focus on conservation, the Foundation is further committed to 12 other objectives, several of which, we believe also speak to the work of the Mohanji Foundation and Centre of Benevolence.

These include the promotion of peace through negotiations and the non-violent resolution of conflicts wherever they occur, as well as to the promotion of 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.

Education is another of our priority areas, as well as the promotion of equality, particularly gender equality, with an emphasis on empowering the most vulnerable members of society. Championing human rights and strengthening the institutions that protect human rights, as well as the pursuit of good governance and moral leadership, also form part of the Foundation’s work.

In keeping with His Excellency’s legacy, the principles of self-help and self-reliance will also be actively promoted, with a particular focus on food security, inspired by the Prince of KwaPhindangene’s ‘one home, one garden’ initiative.

Another essential objective for the Foundation is to pursue the development of legislation and other means to enshrine and promote the role, powers, and functions of traditional leadership within communities, as well as to promote social and economic justice for all the people of South Africa.

Lastly, we will strive to champion the provision of quality healthcare, medical innovation, and accessibility of healthcare services, to promote the physical and mental well-being of all South Africans.

For this reason, the Foundation donated four Jo-Jo Tanks to assist with the provision of water for the broader community.

The Foundation is deeply committed to building a future where every individual is empowered to reach their full potential, whether working on their own or collectively with others.

This Earth Day, may we all be inspired to take daily steps towards this future by making a personal commitment to protecting our environment and the world we live in. There are so many ways to make an individual impact, among others, by planting a tree, recycling waste or being conservative when using another precious resource, our water. You can make a difference!

I thank you.

This speech was delivered at the Earth Day 2023 Tree Planting and Water Supply Event jointly hosted by the Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi Foundation and the Mohanji Foundation South Africa on 23 April 2023 at the Mohanji Centre of Benevolence in Nonoti and published on on 25 April 2023.