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About Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi

Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP was born into the Zulu Royal family as the son of Princess Magogo kaDinuzulu, King Solomon’s sister, and Inkosi Mathole Buthelezi, the King’s Prime Minister.

He joined the ANC Youth League at the University of Fort Hare and completed his studies at the University of Natal. On the advice of Inkosi Albert Luthuli, he responded to the call of the Buthelezi Clan and returned to Mahlabathini in 1953 to take up his hereditary position as Inkosi.

He remained deeply involved in liberation politics and was in constant contact with leaders like Mr Walter Sisulu, Mr Oliver Tambo and Mr Nelson Mandela. In 1970, he was elected by the KwaZulu Assembly as Chief Executive Officer of the Zulu Territorial Authority. In 1972, he became Chief Executive Councillor to the KwaZulu Legislative Assembly and from 1976 to 1994 served as Chief Minister of KwaZulu.

In order to reignite the struggle for liberation within South Africa following the banning of the ANC and other parties, Prince Buthelezi founded Inkatha yeNkulukelo yeSizwe in 1975. Inkatha quickly grew into a formidable liberation organisation, home to the oppressed masses within South Africa.

Through Inkatha, Prince Buthelezi campaigned endlessly for the release of Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners, and for an end to apartheid through negotiations. Through his rejection of nominal “independence” for KwaZulu, he derailed the grand scheme of apartheid to balkanise South Africa.

But despite the undeniable role he played in securing South Africa’s political freedom, Prince Buthelezi found himself vilified by the ANC’s mission-in-exile when Inkatha refused to embrace an armed struggle and the call for international sanctions and disinvestment.

Inkatha found itself the target of the ANC’s People’s War, in which some 20,000 lives were lost in a black-on-black conflict meant to secure the ANC’s political hegemony after liberation. Throughout this time, Prince Buthelezi never abandoned his call for peaceful resistance, non-violence and negotiations.

Ultimately, when former President FW de Klerk announced his decision to release Mandela, he named only Prince Buthelezi as having helped him reach that decision.

Inkatha came to the negotiating table as the IFP, the Inkatha Freedom Party, and secured democratic gains for the future of South Africa.

Following the first democratic elections in April 1994, Prince Buthelezi became the national Minister of Home Affairs. He served in this capacity under President Nelson Mandela and President Thabo Mbeki, before being offered the Deputy Presidency. Regrettably, this was scuppered by leaders of the ANC.

During the first ten years of democracy, he was appointed Acting President of the Republic 22 times.

Prince Buthelezi continued to serve as a Member of Parliament, as the traditional Prime Minister to the Zulu Monarch and Nation, and as the President Emeritus of the IFP until his passing on 9 September 2023 in Ulundi. But first and foremost, he considered himself a servant of the people.

He travelled extensively throughout the world and has received numerous awards, both internationally and in South Africa.

Prince Buthelezi was a believer in Christ and a champion of freedom for all people. Together with his late wife, Princess Irene Thandekile Buthelezi, he had eight children, five of whom are sadly deceased.

Positions Held

Member of Parliament, National Assembly (1994 – 2023)

Minister of Home Affairs, Government of South Africa (1994 – 2004)

Acting President of the Republic of South Africa (on 22 occasions between 1994 and 2004)

Founder and President of the Inkatha Freedom Party (1975 – 2019)

President Emeritus of the Inkatha Freedom Party (2019 – 2023)

Chancellor, University of Zululand (1979 – 2001)

Inkosi of the Buthelezi Clan (1957 – 2023)

Founder of the South African Black Alliance (1977)

Initiator of the Buthelezi Commission of Enquiry into Social, Economic and Political Justice (1980)

Initiator of the KwaZulu/Natal Indaba (1986)

Chief Executive Officer, Zulu Territorial Authority (1970 – 1972)

Chief Executive Councillor, KwaZulu Legislative Assembly (1972 – 1976)

Chief Minister of the KwaZulu Legislative Assembly (1976 – 1994)

Chancellor, Institute for Industrial Education (1971 – 1977)

Patron, Magqubu Ntombela Foundation

Patron, Rhino and Elephant Foundation

Patron, Wildlands Conservation Trust

Patron of the Mabula Ground Hornbill Project (2017 – 2023)

Patron of the Growing Up Without a Father Foundation (2019 – 2023)

Honorary Patron, Sivananda World Peace and Community Development Foundation

Chairperson, Buthelezi Traditional Council (1975 – 2023)

Chairperson, Mashonangashoni Regional Authority (1968 – 2023)


Man of the Year, Institute of Management Consultants, 1972

Newsmaker of the Year, South African Society of Journalists 1973

Knight Commander of the Star of Africa for Outstanding Leadership, President Tolbert, Liberia, 1975

Doctor of Law, honorary degree, University of Zululand, 1976

Citation for Leadership, District of Columbia Council (US) 1976

Doctor of Law, honorary degree, University of Cape Town, 1978

French National Order of Merit, 1981

George Meany Human Rights Award, The Council of Industrial Organisation of the American Federation of Labour (AFL‑CIO), 1982

Apostle of Peace (Rastriya Pita), Pandit Satyapal Sharma of India 1983

Doctor of Law, honorary degree, Tampa University, Florida, USA 1985

Nadaraja Award, Indian Academy of South Africa, 1985

Man of the Year, Financial Mail, 1985

Newsmaker of the Year, Pretoria Press Club, 1985

Honorary Freedom of the City of Pinetown, Natal, 1986

Man of the Year Award, Institute of Management Consultants of South Africa, 1986

Doctor of Law, honorary degree, University of Boston, Mass, USA, 1986

Freedom of Ngwelezane, 1988

Unity, Justice and Peace Award, Inkatha Youth Brigade, 1988

Magna Award for Outstanding Leadership, Hong Kong 1988

King’s Cross Award by H.M. King Zwelithini Goodwill ka Bhekuzulu, Ulundi, 1989

Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters, City University of Los Angeles, 1989

Key to the City of Birmingham, Alabama, USA, 1989

Conservation Award Class 1, Bruno H. Schubert Foundation, 1999

King Shaka Gold Medal by H.M. King Zwelithini Goodwill ka Bhekuzulu, KwaDukuza, 2001

The Charlton Heston Courage Under Fire Award, American Conservative Union, 2001

Order of St Markhus, by the Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa, Greek Orthodox Church, Egypt, 2009

Order of St Michael and All Angels, by Bishop Dino Gabriel on behalf of the Diocese of Zululand, Anglican Church of Southern Africa, 2010

Peace Maker Award, African Enterprise, 2010

Simon of Cyrene, by the Bishops of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, 2010

Everlasting Gospel Leadership Award, Brotherhood of the Cross and Star, 2011

NatureLife-International Environment Award 2015, NatureLife-International, Germany, 2016

Honour of Merit Award, Imperial Youth of Brazil, 2021


KwaZulu Development Black Community Programmes, 1972

Inkatha Book Reality 1975 bi-weekly column syndicated to SA morning newspapers Author, 1974

Prof ZK Mathews: His Death, The South African Outlook Book Lovedale Press, 1975

Viewpoint: Transkei Independence Book Author Black Community Programmes, 1976

Power is Ours Book, 1979

South Africa: My Vision of the Future, London: Weidenfeld and Nicholson, 1980

The Constitution an article in Leadership in SA, 1983

South Africa: Anatomy of Black-White Power-Sharing: Collected speeches in Europe. Emmcon, 1986.

Role of a Foreign Direct Investment in South Africa’s Foreign Trade Policy Publication 1999