Fond memories rekindled as ANC and IFP pay homage to Buthelezi

It was an unexpected moment of laughter as fond memories were brought back to life when ANC deputy president Paul Mashatile visited the KwaPhindangene royal house on Tuesday. 

Mashatile was there to pay homage to the fallen IFP founder Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, who died on Saturday morning at the age of 95. 

Mashatile, who was in eMahlabathini in northern KwaZulu-Natal in his capacity as ANC deputy president and the country’s number two citizen, led a delegation of the governing party to bid farewell to the elder statesman.

It took several hours for him to arrive, but when he finally did, the tense and sombre atmosphere which had engulfed the tent turned into a lighthearted moment.

He spoke fondly of Buthelezi, who during his youthful days was an active member of the ruling party.

Mashatile said Buthelezi died while preaching reconciliation between the IFP and the ANC.

Umntwana [Buthelezi] did not say we must come together as one party, but he said we must work together. We should not abandon this dream,” said Mashatile.

He also pointed out that the ANC hopes to meet the IFP leadership after Buthelezi’s funeral to advance talks of joining hands.

The delegation included ANC’s first deputy secretary Nomvula Mokonyane, spokesperson Mahlengi Bhengu-Motsiri, KwaZulu-Natal ANC chairperson Siboniso Duma, and provincial treasurer Sipho Hlomuka, among others.

Duma said it was unheard of for the two fierce political rivals to come together under one roof.

“In rememberance when we were in the house, one sister said to me ‘Duma, seniyayithemba Inkatha, nihlala ngale yona ihlale ngasemnyango’ [Duma, you now trust the IFP such that you allow them to sit at the door while you sit across the house],” Duma said to roaring laughter. 

Earlier in the day, several political parties had also converged to the homestead to pay their last respects and convey condolences.

Among them was the EFF, which was led by its deputy commander in chief Floyd Shivambu, John Steenhuisen, the leader of the DA, African Transformation Movement and the Freedom Front Plus.

On Wednesday, a national memorial service will be held at Ulundi’s Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi Stadium where international dignitaries are expected to bid farewell to Buthelezi. 

Remembered as one of the country’s colourful politicians, he will be given a category-one official funeral accorded to persons of highest standing in society.


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