Up to the last moments of his colourful public life, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi epitomised the ambiguity of his complex political career that polarised opinions and attitudes towards him locally and internationally in equal measure.
Received and feted by eminent statesmen of the West while intensified apartheid repression in his native country saw South Africa being condemned to a pariah state, many freedom fighters, exiled or fighting on the home front, dismissed Buthelezi as a puppet of the oppressors created by the despised Bantu homelands system.
Despite the derogatory labels at home, Buthelezi’s audience was sought by presidents of the United States of America Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan; then US Secretary of State Dr Henry Kissinger; German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and British prime ministers John Major and Margaret Thatcher, a long-time ally and friend.
Similarly, across the African continent, he was received warmly by the Frontline States that supported the struggle for liberation in South Africa, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe. He interacted directly with key leaders such as Tanzania’s president Julius Nyerere and Zambia’s Dr Kenneth Kaunda and many others, despite efforts by the exiled African National Congress to undermine his projection as a genuine leader of the oppressed black people in South Africa.
By then, his global influence extended beyond the political arena. His vehement opposition to the imposition of economic sanctions against South Africa made him a darling of big business locally…
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Publish date : 2023-09-09 10:04:34