Bow out gracefully

Love him or hate him, Mangosuthu Buthelezi has been a colourful figure of our political scene for more than 60 years. But his star has faded with every election.

Love him or hate him, Mangosuthu Buthelezi has been a colourful figure of our political scene for more than 60 years. But his star has faded with every election.

Last week he lost the leadership of the KwaZulu-Natal House of Traditional Leaders.

This left him with the presidency of his Inkatha Freedom Party and being a member of Parliament as the only elected office he now holds in the public sphere.

Even that is tenuous. The youth brigade of the party he founded in 1975 and has led since wants him out.

We hope that Shenge will resist the temptation of behaving like a boxer. He should know when he has had his innings. And right now the writing is on the wall.

Accepting that the formation of the IFP might have been the brainchild of the ANC leader Oliver Tambo, who tasked him with its leadership, it would be misleading if we did not mention that Buthelezi's leadership has not always been without blemish.

Though he has denied personal knowledge, Buthelezi was at the helm of his organisation when the Inkathagate scandal exposed how police funds were secretly channelled to the IFP to block ANC activities.

He has many admirable qualities, most notably his openness about HIV-Aids at a time when the government was in denial.

He should bow out gracefully before he is remembered as another of Africa's big men who assumed that all public leadership space were their birthright.

X