Issued by the FW de Klerk Foundation on 09/09/2023


The FW de Klerk Foundation has learned with the greatest sadness of the passing of Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi this morning – shortly after the celebration of his 95th birthday.

Prince Buthelezi was, for more than forty years, one of the giants of South African politics and was, indisputably, one of the founding fathers of our constitutional democracy. In his autobiography, FW de Klerk described him and his contribution to South African politics as follows:

“Chief Minister Buthelezi took great pride in his position as the hereditary Prime Minister of the Zulu king, the young and amiable Goodwil Zwelethini. Although a fiercely committed Zulu nationalist, Buthelezi was also in many ways a moderate. While resolutely opposed to apartheid, he was committed to non-violence and to using his power-base as the Chief Minister of KwaZulu to achieve his objectives. He made a major contribution to the demise of grand apartheid by refusing adamantly to accept independence for KwaZulu and by insisting on the release of Nelson Mandela and the unbanning of the ANC before he would enter into constitutional negotiations with the government. He staunchly favoured free-market principles and was opposed to sanctions, which he quite correctly believed were primarily harming black South Africans. While he, himself, presided over a de facto one-party state from the traditional capital of Ulundi, he favoured a liberal and strongly federal constitution with maximum devolution of power for a future South Africa.”

Prince Buthelezi went on to play a key role in South Africa’s transition to constitutional democracy, in the Government of National Unity and in Parliament – where he became one of its longest serving members.

The FW de Klerk Foundation – and Mrs Elita de Klerk – would like to express their deepest condolences to Prince Buthelezi’s family, to his many friends and supporters and to the Inkatha Freedom Party. South Africa has lost one of its greatest sons.