Sunday Times

Simon Gumede: Politician and traditiona­l leader


SIMON Hulumeni Gumede, a member of the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Legislatur­e, died in a motor vehicle accident on Wednesday. He was 65.

Gumede, Inkosi of KwaMakhasa and KwaNibela on the KwaZulu-Natal far North Coast, was a traditiona­l leader, an astute businessma­n, a keen conservati­onist and a career politician. A man who skilfully bridged the divide between traditiona­l leadership and parliament­ary politics, Gumede was a far cry from many of his peers in the House of Traditiona­l Leaders.

In a province where many amakhosi use their positions to create personal fiefdoms in the tribal authority under their control, Gumede was a man apart.

He was constantly involved in efforts to make concrete interventi­ons which bettered the lot of those he represente­d.

Gumede was central in ensuring that conservati­on efforts in his area directly benefited his people in economic terms.

He was a man of principle, leaving the IFP — of which he was then deputy secretary-general — in 1997 to later return to the party when its leadership abandoned the path to conflict they were on at that time.

His area, although an IFP stronghold, was one part of KwaZulu-Natal where political tolerance was practised, even in the dark days of conflict between the IFP and ANC.

Gumede was renowned as a negotiator and peacemaker in KwaZulu-Natal.

Premier S’bu Ndebele said Gumede had played a “major role in bilateral meetings to establish peace in the province”.

IFP president Mangosuthu Buthelezi described Gumede as “a man of principle, the doyen of community-based politics, and a humble servant of his people.

“His shrewd political judgment, strong social conscience and staunch traditiona­lism will be sorely missed. Inkosi was, quite simply, a star.

“First and foremost, he will be remembered as a Zulu and a South African patriot. His negotiatin­g skills par excellence came to the fore during the constituti­onal negotiatio­ns.”

IFP provincial leader Dr Lionel Mtshali described Gumede as a leader dedicated to the preservati­on of Zulu institutio­ns.

He said: “The sheer power of Inkosi’s argument on the subject was proof enough that our ancient traditiona­l institutio­ns were here to stay.”

Mtshali added that Gumede was a leader who combined traditiona­lism with “vast experience in community work and administra­tion”, giving him talent in “the most intricate tasks of both government and opposition”. — Paddy Harper

 ??  ?? NEGOTIATOR: Simon Gumede combined traditiona­lism with political savvy
NEGOTIATOR: Simon Gumede combined traditiona­lism with political savvy

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