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Mangosuthu Buthelezi dies

Zulu nationalist and former Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) founder Mangosuthu Gatsha Buthelezi has died.

He was 95.

Buthelezi’s death was confirmed in a statement by his family on Saturday.

He was hospitalised in July. Despite reports at the time that he was battling a terminal illness, his spokesperson, Liezl van der Merwe, poured cold water on these claims.

At the time she said Buthelezi was hospitalised to treat a back problem.

Buthelezi was subsequently moved to the hospital’s intensive care unit, where he spent a few weeks before being discharged into the care of his family.

He was born on 27 August, 1928 into the Zulu royal family in the Mahlabathini district of KwaZulu-Natal as the son of Princess Magogo kaDinuzulu, the sister of King Solomon and Inkosi Mathole Buthelezi, the king’s prime minister.

Buthelezi’s royal ties earned him the title of prince, and he served the Zulu monarch and nation as traditional prime minister.

One of South Africa’s most controversial and divisive figures in the country’s political landscape, Buthelezi joined the ANC Youth League in 1948 while a student at the University of Fort Hare.

Following the banning of the ANC in the 1960s, Buthelezi founded Inkatha yeNkulukelo yeSizwe in 1975 as a cultural organisation.

A year later he opted to participate in the apartheid state’s abhorred homeland system and served as the chief minister of the KwaZulu bantustan from 1976 to 1994.

At the time, Buthelezi claimed to have the blessings of the ANC and its then-leader, OR Tambo.

However, the ANC has refuted this claim on a number of occasions.