Mangosuthu Buthelezi, describes his role as a political party leader in apartheid and post-apartheid South Africa. As leader of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) in apartheid South Africa, he opposed creation of his home region as an independent “homeland.” His goal was to attempt reform from within by remaining within the Union of South Africa. He opposed the imposition of sanctions by the international community and the armed struggle espoused by the African National Congress. He and his party at first refused to take part in elections after the apartheid regime relinquished power, but then agreed to participate in the elections, in government, and in drafting the constitution. He was and remains a staunch advocate of a federal system of government with significant provincial autonomy. He describes his reasons, and provides examples of actions he took as a leader in Kwazulu-Natal.
At the time of this interview, Mangosuthu Buthelezi had been a member of parliament from the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) since 1994. Following the elections after the apartheid regime relinquished power, Buthelezi served as minister of affairs and, during President Mandela’s absence, as acting president of South Africa. A member of the Zulu royal family, he became involved in liberation politics after his studies at Fort Hare University in 1950. He returned home in 1953 to assume chieftainship of the Buthelezi clan. As traditional prime minister of the Zulu nation, Buthelezi also holds the title Undunankulu Ka Zulu. He was named chief executive officer of the Kwazulu Territorial Authority in 1970. He organized the IFP in 1975 with support of the African National Congress (ANC). In 2004, President Mbeki offered Buthelezi the Deputy Presidency. Because this meant the IFP would lose its political position in Kwazulu-Natal, Buthelesze refused and the IFP left the unity government.