South African Zulu leader and politician, president of the Zulu-based Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), which he founded as a paramilitary organization for attaining a nonracial democratic society in 1974 and converted into a political party in 1994. He was appointed home affairs minister in the country's first post-apartheid government, led by African National Congress (ANC) leader Nelson Mandela, in 1994. In 1999 and 2004 Buthelezi was offered the post of deputy president of South Africa by the new president Thabo Mbeki but Buthelezi refused the post as it would have required him to step down as prime minister of Kwa-Zulu Natal province. The IFP left the ruling coalition with the ANC and Buthelezi stepped down as home affairs minister but continued as a member of parliament.
Buthelezi's threatened boycott of South Africa's first multiracial elections in 1994 led to a dramatic escalation in politically motivated violence, but he eventually agreed to register his party and joined the new government.
The great-grandson of the Zulu ruler King Cetewayo, he took over as hereditary chief of the Buthelezi clan of Zulus in 1953. Although initially opposed to the creation of black homelands in the Republic of South Africa, he was elected chief minister of the nonindependent black homeland state of KwaZulu in 1972 and broke with the ANC. Opposed to KwaZulu becoming a Black National State, he argued instead for a confederation of black areas, with eventual majority rule over all South Africa under a one-party socialist system. He was accused of complicity in the factional violence between Inkatha and ANC supporters that racked the townships after the government lifted its ban on the ANC in 1990. Thousands died as Inkatha and the ANC struggled for the allegiance of black South Africans.
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