- Tributes have poured in for NFP leader Zanele kaMagwaza-Msibi who died in hospital on Monday.
- She was described as a strong female politician who served with distinction.
- Her former party, the IFP, also sang her praises despite their previous disagreements.
Tributes have poured in for National Freedom Party (NFP) leader Zanele kaMagwaza-Msibi who died on Monday morning.
KaMagwaza-Msibi died in hospital, the party said, with NFP MP Ahmed Shaik Emam saying they were reeling from the news.
IFP national spokesperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa lauded kaMagwaza-Msibi's political ideals, saying they were "formed in the IFP from an early age".
"She served in our structures and was mentored by the founder and then-president of our party who recognised in her the passion to create social and economic justice for our country."
Hlengwa said the IFP "benefitted from her leadership" when she served as its national chairperson, and the party "confidently advanced her as our premier candidate for KwaZulu-Natal in the 2009 national and provincial elections".
He added the party would not reflect on this tumultuous period between the IFP and NFP.
"At a time like this, one would not wish to remember subsequent events. Suffice to say that when the Honourable Mrs kaMagwaza-Msibi split the IFP and formed the NFP, our founder maintained that the door would never be closed, despite the deep pain that had been caused.
"We therefore have no negative words as the nation grieves this loss of a former deputy minister, Member of Parliament, and political leader. We acknowledge the difficult time experienced by the NFP as its president struggled with ill health, and we extend our sympathies."
KaMagwaza-Msibi formed the NFP as a breakaway party from the IFP in 2011 after months of tension over the IFP president position.
At the time, the split was a blow to the IFP which took control of only three of KwaZulu-Natal's 61 municipalities in the local government elections. Most were won by the ANC which formed coalitions with the NFP in nearly 20 municipalities where there was no clear majority.
The IFP has since come back strongly in KZN ahead of the DA as the official opposition.
DA national spokesperson Siviwe Gwarube said the party also mourned her death, labelling kaMagwaza-Msibi a "powerhouse politician".
In a statement, ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe acknowledged her role as a parliamentarian between 2014 and 2019 as well as her serving as deputy minister of science and technology in the Jacob Zuma Cabinet."May the family, friends and colleagues of Mama Zanele find solace in knowing that their loss is shared by the entire nation," he said.
Embattled former health minister Zweli Mkhize and his family also issued a statement, saying they were aware she was battling health issues and "has not been well for a while".
"KaMagwaza-Msibi emerged as a powerful woman leader amongst political leaders in South Africa as she led in the IFP and later NFP that she had founded. She was respected as a strong champion for transformation and for her role in improving lives of our people."
Mkhize said she was "a pragmatic leader" who ensured her views and those of her party "remained independent and distinguishable even as the party co-operated with others to ensure successful service delivery".
"As the provincial leader of the African National Congress that entered into a co-operative arrangements with NFP after winning a number of local government seats in KwaZulu-Natal in 2011, I appreciated the principled leadership that Njinji provided to bring about stability in governance in the municipalities co-governed by our respective parties."
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