WORDS OF THANKS BY
PRINCE MANGOSUTHU BUTHELEZI MP
KwaPhindangene: 27 August 2022
Mr Mpikayise Buthelezi, my Deputy in the Buthelezi Traditional Council; Izinduna who share the burden of administration in this Council; my son Prince Ntuthukoyezwe Zuzifa Buthelezi and Indlunkulu MaMohale; and the loyal members of the Buthelezi Clan who serve our people with such diligence; and our grandchildren, and other guests.
I am deeply touched by what you have done for me today. I was not expecting to be honoured like this as I mark my 94th birthday. Considering all that you do for me by carrying the burden in the Traditional Council and within the Buthelezi Clan, it is really going above and beyond the call of duty for you to collect funds, as you have done, to celebrate my birthday. I am quite humbled.
I must say that as Inkosi of the Buthelezi Clan I have been blessed for almost seventy years, indeed a full lifetime, with loyalty and support from my deputies and izinduna. I have never had cause to worry about the good administration of our Clan and I have always been able to rely on you to do what you have been called to do. It is a rare gift for any leader to be able to fully trust those to whom his authority is delegated.
On an occasion such as this, I cannot help but think of the beginning of our journey and how far we have come since then. I recall how, in March 1953, when His Majesty King Cyprian Nyangayezizwe Bhekuzulu ka Solomon and members of the Royal Family, as well as many friends and members of the Buthelezi Clan, had gathered for my installation, we were all shocked by the letter of appointment from the Department of Bantu Administration. Despite the Clan knowing that I was the hereditary leader from my birth, the Department stated that they would officially regard me as Acting Inkosi. In other words, I was on probation!
The Bantu Commissioner then warned me with the following words, “You are educated. But I advise you to respect the elders of your tribe. Have regard for the wisdom of age.” I should imagine that by now, were he still around, the Commissioner might be satisfied that I have acquired the wisdom of age.
I was of course being punished for my political activism at the University of Fort Hare. The regime also knew how close I was to Inkosi Albert Luthuli, for he had mentored me, while I was in Durban, before I returned to Mahlabathini to take up my position as Inkosi. It was actually on Inkosi Luthuli’s advice, that I abandoned my future, as a lawyer, to accept my duties as Inkosi.
Nevertheless, even as Acting Inkosi, I threw myself into the work of serving our Clan. I had jurisdiction to try both civil and criminal cases, and I found that my law subjects at university, assisted me greatly. It was four years before the apartheid Government finally granted me full recognition, but I remained under constant surveillance, and all my actions were reported back to Government.
It was not until September 1957 that I was recognised as fully in charge of this Clan. It was not easy to administer the affairs of the Buthelezi Clan. There were some members of the Clan who were aware that as far the government was concerned, I was not their favourite. Some were encouraged to hire attorneys to try and appeal the decisions of my court. But most of these appeals failed.
I remember the case of Mr Mafumbatha Dlamini in the eMantungweni Area. His daughter was seduced by a young man, and since according to some indigenous law, the death of a child who is a product of a seduction exonerated the culprit, Mr Dlamini took the case on appeal to the Native Commissioner’s Court. The Magistrate’s Court decided to exonerate the culprit when an abortion took place. Mr Dlamini took the case on appeal to what was then the Native High Court at the time. The young man thought that since the child died, he would not be required to pay the damages. But since he had promised in my court that he would pay the damages, the Native High Court upheld Mr Dlamini’s appeal on the basis that the young man had already promised to pay the damages before the child passed on. In other words, the argument was that he had already made a promise which he had to carry out.
The work of administering the Clan was quite demanding. At that time, of course, I travelled largely on horse-back, and it was no easy feat to go and try cases across the large Buthelezi Traditional area, parts of which were wholly inaccessible by road. We would often have to travel back by the light of paraffin lanterns, as the distance was so great that we would need to travel at night. It was even more of a hardship for members of the Clan who had to travel at the crack of dawn with the assistance of paraffin lamps.
Whenever I tried cases, I would record the evidence in writing. Often though, there was not even a roof under which to sit, and I found that, on rainy days, the rain would obliterate whatever I wrote. I actually mentioned this on the day of my installation, and appealed to members of our Clan to consider building a court house. At that time, there was not a single building for this purpose in any of the Clans of the Zulu Nation.
Interestingly, shortly thereafter, the Department of Bantu Administration built a court house for the King. After that, a few others were built by the Department for those Clans and Amakhosi who accepted the Bantu Authorities Act.
I was proud when the Buthelezi Clan took a resolution to impose a R1 levy on each taxpayer in the Clan in order to build our own office and court house. We believed, already then, in self-help and self-reliance. We were able to collect enough money and we engaged the company Froise and Co. to build our court house, which also housed my office.
Normally on the occasion of the official opening of such building, officials of Government would officiate. However, in our case, I invited His Majesty King Cyprian Bhekuzulu to come and perform the official opening for us. It was a very happy occasion and we were proud of the fact that not a cent of the money we had paid towards that building had come from any Government source.
That is how we started. Self-reliant, capable and proud.
Our work was based on commitment to serve our people. The Indunas were not paid as is the case today. They rendered services free of charge. An Inkosi received, as is the case today, what is called a stipend. While one appreciates that the Indunas are today paid, one is not happy because this prompted the government of the day to interfere in administration. For example, the Indunas are serving under Amakhosi, and yet when there is a dispute the Premier has a right to poke his nose into such dispute.
Considering the size of the Buthelezi Clan, it was necessary for me to appoint a Deputy to assist with trying cases and resolving disputes. Moreover, people were having to travel a great distance, by foot, to have their cases heard at the Buthelezi Traditional Court House, and some even needed to cross the Imfolozi River to reach it, which was dangerous when the river was in flood.
It made sense for us, therefore, to have a second courthouse at Nondayana, where my Deputy would try cases. For all these years, this has served our people well. And yet as we speak now the Provincial Government has done everything to interfere with a dispute arising out of their interference.
My own responsibilities, however, began increasing over time. In 1970, I was appointed Chief Executive Officer of the Zulu Territorial Authority in Nongoma. Two years later, I became Chief Executive Councillor of the KwaZulu Legislative Assembly, and in 1976 I became Chief Minister of the KwaZulu Government.
It would have been impossible for anyone in that position to continue doing the day-to-day work of administering the Buthelezi Traditional Council, and I did not want the members of our Clan to be neglected or justice to be delayed in any situation. I therefore appointed an Acting Inkosi, to do the duties of Inkosi as well as my Deputy, and together they served our Clan. There was no problem with this arrangement under the IFP’s administration of the province. And yet just now we have some interferences by the Provincial Government. We are in consultation with the Attorneys of the Traditional Council at present on this matter.
Tragically, after many years of service, both the Acting Inkosi, and my Deputy passed away in quick succession. I therefore appointed Mr Mpikayise Khayalakhe Buthelezi as my Deputy to try cases at the Nondayana Court House.
Mr Mpikayise Buthelezi has been serving faithfully for almost a decade, and I have the greatest appreciation for all that he has carried on behalf of our Clan in this time. Indeed, I am indebted to him beyond what I could ever repay, for he has carried a tremendous load on my behalf, even travelling from one courthouse to the other. This is something he has done out of dedication and loyalty, not for any reward. It is quite astonishing to see such loyalty. If he did not have some businesses of his own, he would not have been able to serve the Buthelezi Clan with such commitment and dedication.
Indeed, loyalty has characterised the many years of work of our Indunas as well as of my deputies and my Acting Inkosi. It is because of you that the Buthelezi Clan and the Traditional Council are administered with fairness, justice and efficiency. Today, even though you are honouring me, I want to pay tribute to each one of you.
You have helped carry my load. You have enabled me to serve our country, even as Minister of Home Affairs and as Acting President of the Republic. You have enabled me to serve as Chancellor of the University of Zululand and as traditional Prime Minister to the Zulu Monarch and Nation. Everything I have done outside of my work as Inkosi of the Buthelezi Clan has been possible because you carried the load of this work.
I therefore thank you today, and I honour you.
In the presence of my family, I want to thank you, for you allowed them to have a greater part of my life than they would otherwise have had, considering the heavy responsibilities I have carried. Knowing that our Clan was being administered well has given me peace of mind. That is perhaps the greatest gift you could give me for my 94th birthday.
Thank you for this celebration, for all that you have done, and for all that you continue to do in the service of our people.