STATEMENT ISSUED BY
THE NATIONAL EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE OF THE INKATHA FREEDOM PARTY
On behalf of the Inkatha Freedom Party, the IFP’s National Executive Committee extends its deepest condolences to our President, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP, on the passing this morning of his beloved wife, Princess Irene Audrey Thandekile Buthelezi.
Princess Irene has been a pillar of strength to the IFP’s President for almost seventy years. Their marriage has been an inspiration to several generations. We admired the respect, love and honour that were the hallmark of their relationship.
The IFP owes a tremendous debt of gratitude to Princess Irene for supporting Prince Buthelezi as he served South Africa. She remained strong through the most trying times of political upheaval, violence and distress. She bore the pain of every arrow fired at her husband for political gain, and she remained kind, gentle and forgiving.
In addition, the Princess was a freedom fighter in her own right. For many years she was an active member of the Women’s Brigade of Inkatha yeNkululeko yeSizwe and actively took part in its political activities. History recalls that she took part in the ANC’s 1950’s Defiance Campaign. The IFP therefore salutes this heroine of our struggle as she exits our stage to join the many heroes and heroines of South Africa’s struggle for liberation.
Princess Irene was instrumental in leading the IFP’s women-driven economic program of self-help and self-reliance, which encouraged women to participate meaningfully in sustainable agriculture and other economic empowerment initiatives.
Throughout her well-lived life Princess Irene remained a symbol of good family values which underpinned an Ubuntu/Botho based society and moral regeneration.
During the dark days of HIV/Aids denialism Princess Irene stood strong in support of her husband to destigmatise this pandemic when Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi broke the silence and told the world that two of their children, Prince Nelisuzulu and Princess Mandisi, had died of Aids.
For many years Princess Irene travelled with Prince Buthelezi, meeting international Heads of State and building lasting friendships for South Africa. She will be remembered fondly by many at home and throughout the world.
We honour her for her courage, her resilience and her endless patience. Our condolences and support are with the Buthelezi family, with Prince Zuzifa, Princess Phumzile and Princess Angela, the grandchildren, the extended Buthelezi family, and with the Buthelezi Clan who mourn this sad loss.
We, the IFP, mourn our Mother – a selfless woman of integrity.
May the Lord comfort our President in his grief, and may Princess Irene Buthelezi rest in peace.
Mayor Velenkosini Hlabisa
Secretary General of the IFP
082 873 3685
Mr Mkhuleko Hlengwa MP
IFP National Spokesperson
071 111 0539