South Africa: Buthelezi Lauded At 90 As Party Launches Manifesto in Soweto

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On Human Rights Day the IFP celebrated its 44th birthday by launching its Gauteng manifesto in Soweto. While the party's age counts in its favour, the same might not be true for its 90-year-old leader, Mangosuthu Buthelezi.

There were no laps around the stadium for the benefit of the adoring crowd, but when Mangosuthu Buthelezi stepped out of the silver BMW X6 that drove him onto the pitch, the sea of white T-shirts bearing his face cheered loudly anyway.

"Siyahamba naye jikelele," they sang, "We go with him everywhere," as he smiled and waved at them.

The relative ease with which he negotiated the thick grass of the Zola Sports Complex and walked up the ramp onto the huge stage unaided is admirable for a nonagenarian - as is his ability to hold the crowd for two hours in both English and Zulu, and then lead them loudly in song.

Buthelezi is introduced as a leader who has rubbed shoulders with anyone "from popes to presidents", a man whom Margaret Thatcher and others praised for his courage to ensure that the apartheid government released Nelson Mandela from prison.

In the booklet distributed at the event with his printed speech, there...

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