Outgoing Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi has announced that this will be his last term as a member of parliament and he won’t be returning after the May 8 general elections.
It, therefore, means that the party will have a new leader in the National Assembly after the elections, taking over from Buthelezi who has been heading the party for 44 years. For now, though, Buthelezi will remain at the forefront of the campaign in the run-up to the elections.
The news of Buthelezi’s retirement from politics comes a day after it was revealed that his wife, Princess Irene Buthelezi passed away after a long battle with an illness. The pair had been married for 67 years.
“She leaves behind her husband of almost 67 years, their children, Prince Ntuthukoyezwe Zuzifa, Princess Phumzile Nokuphiwa and Princess Sibuyiselwe Angela, and many grandchildren. All are devastated by this loss,” the Buthelezi family said in a statement confirming the news.
Buthelezi founded the party that would become the African National Congress’ (ANC) chief opposition in Kwa-Zulu Natal (KZN), in 1975. He has been the only leader the IFP has ever known.
Buthelezi formed and reigned as president of Inkatha, a self-styled “cultural liberation movement”, from 1975. It was renamed the Inkatha Freedom Party in the early 1990s. He served for a decade in the cabinet of the Government of National Unity after Nelson Mandela became president in 1994.
The veteran leader says he’s unclear how he will spend his retirement but he is quick to add that as long as he enjoys good health, he will always be available to assist his party if asked to do so.