The South African Zionist Federation (SAZF) extends our heartfelt condolences to the family and loved ones of Prince Mangosuthu Gatsha Buthelezi as well as the Zulu Kingdom and Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) for their loss. Buthelezi was a remarkable and unforgettable leader who forged an important and indelible role in South African history. As we reflect on his life, we are reminded of the profound impact he had on the people of South Africa and the world at large.

Buthelezi was a great friend of the Jews and of Israel. He once recounted in a letter to the SAZF that he had “always drawn great inspiration from the tortuous experiences of the Jewish people” throughout our history. He noted the warm reception he always received when visiting Israel, and how in 1985 then Prime Minister of Israel, Shimon Peres, had welcomed him and stood in brotherly fellowship with him and other South Africans against apartheid. 

Buthelezi frequently recounted the value of his time in Israel, and regularly emphasised his connection to the Jewish State. He stated on multiple occasions that he felt pain over the fact that South Africa had abandoned its role as a mediator when it came to conflict in the Middle East, and how discouraged he was by the utterances of our Government and Minister of International Relations about Israel. 

Prince Buthelezi was not just a politician; he was a visionary and a symbol of hope during apartheid and the years that followed its aftermath. His unwavering commitment to justice, equality, and reconciliation touched the lives of countless individuals, transcending racial and cultural divides. 

Buthelezi’s leadership was characterised by a profound sense of compassion and a genuine desire to uplift the marginalised. His pursuit of peaceful dialogue and negotiation, even in the face of adversity, demonstrated his unwavering commitment to a brighter future for all. His love for Israel is one we hope to inspire in all South Africans, along with his vision for peace between Israel and the Palestinians. 

Members of the IFP’s executive leadership recently concluded a number of noteworthy engagements with a delegation of Israeli water experts. The IFP noted that areas such as agriculture, food security, health, environmental protection and tourism were crucial to the development of Kwa-Zulu Natal and that water management was key to these functioning optimally. They welcomed the opportunity to introduce Israeli technology to the province’s municipalities – this is something we can thank Buthelezi for. 

The relationships that Buthelezi helped build between the Jewish community, Israel and the people of KZN also resulted in the building and establishment of two clinics for the Zulu nation, in Mathubathuba and Emondlo. Both healthcare centres provide HIV-related health services and education for the surrounding communities.

“Our deepest condolences go out to the Inkatha Freedom Party and the entire Zulu Kingdom. As Prime Minister to the Zulu nation, he led with wisdom and integrity, he dedicated his life to improving those of his people.  In Parliament, he was a loyal supporter of Israel and the Jewish people. His friendship throughout the years has been greatly appreciated and held in high regard” shares Grant Maserow, Chairman of the KwaZulu-Natal Zionist Council. 

In this moment of loss, our thoughts are with his family, friends, and all those who were touched by his presence. May they find solace in the knowledge that his contributions to the cause of justice and equality will continue to inspire generations to come.

The SAZF honours Buthelezi’s memory by committing itself to carry forward the principles for which he so passionately stood. May his memory be a blessing.