ON THE PASSING OF LADY MARGARET THATCHER FORMER PRIME MINISTER OF THE UNITED KINGDOM STATEMENT BY PRINCE MANGOSUTHU BUTHELEZI MP PRESIDENT OF THE INKATHA FREEDOM PARTY
I am devastated by the news of Lady Margaret Thatcher's passing this morning. She is an iconic figure in world history, being the first female Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, the woman who reversed her nation's decline following World War II, saw victory in the Falklands War, won three elections and served her country from 1979 to 1990.
But in my mind she remains, first and foremost, a friend. Lady Thatcher will forever command my respect and admiration, not only for her leadership in the UK, but for her leadership on global matters. She was a voice of reason during Apartheid and listened attentively to my plea against sanctions and economic disinvestment, which we both recognised would hurt the poorest of our people the most.
I was privileged to visit Lady Thatcher at 10 Downing Street in 1986, and was honoured when she specifically travelled to Ulundi to visit me as the Chief Minister of the erstwhile KwaZulu Government. Never before had an international dignitary shown such respect for a black leadership. She displayed all the best features of a trailblazer; the courage of her convictions and a tenacious belief in doing what was necessary and right.
Her illness in her later years has been difficult to accept, and her death will be more difficult still. However, in such a sombre moment, I am reminded of the great strength and stoicism of my friend. Indeed, I can almost hear her say, as she was apt to say, this is not the time to "go wobbly". This is the time for courage in the face of grief.
May Baroness Thatcher's legacy be honoured as she is laid to rest, quite appropriately with the first State funeral for a British Prime Minister since Sir Winston Churchill. May her friends and family be comforted, as an entire nation grieves. And may my dear friend now finally rest in peace.
Issued by the IFP, April 8 2013
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