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This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

Mdlalose, Frank Themba

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Frank Mdlalose was born at Nqutu on 29 November 1931. He matriculated from St Francis High School, Mariannhill in 1949. He studied for a BSc degree at the University of Fort Hare between 1950 and 1952 and completed his University Education Diploma in 1953. His interest in politics was first aroused through the influence of Mangosuthu Buthelezi when both were studying at the University of Fort Hare. Buthelezi suggested that Mdlalose should attend an ANC Youth League meeting. From that point onwards Mdlalose became increasingly involved in political activity, becoming chairman of the Victoria East branch of the ANC Youth League.

Mdlalose played an active role in the defiance campaign which was launched on 26 June 1952. He enrolled as a medical student at the University of Natal where his political experiences were very different from those at Fort Hare because the medical students were isolated from the main campus. He qualified as a doctor in 1958.

In 1959 the Freedom Charter was adopted. Mdlalose had reservations about the charter, and in 1959 considered joining Sobukwe's breakaway PAC, but decided to stay with the ANC in an attempt to counter its left wing. He participated in the potato boycott in 1959 in protest of the use of pass law offenders used as prison labourers on farms.

In 1974 Buthelezi asked Mdlalose for his ideas on forming a new political party, and in 1975 he was invited to a meeting to discuss the organisation's constitution. This meeting resulted in the forming of Inkatha yeNkululeko yeSizwe. In 1976 Mdlalose was elected as Inkatha's second national chairman. In 1978 he was appointed Minister of Interior in the KwaZulu legislature, and in 1983 he became Minister of Health and Welfare. Mdlalose served as leader of the Inkatha delegation at the Natal Indaba in 1986. in 1990 he succeeded Oscar Dhlomo as Minister of Education and Culture in KwaZulu.

Following the unbanning of the ANC in 1990, Mdlalose worked with the ANC in an effort to stop the violence between ANC and Inkatha supporters.

In 1991 Mdlalose was relieved as Minister of Health and became Minister without Portfolio attached to the office of the chief minister. Mdlalose headed the IFPs' delegation at Codesa. He was also a member of the National Peace Committee. In the April 1994 elections the IFP won 51% of the vote in the Kwazulu Natal province, and on 11 May Mdlalose was elected premier. He resigned from that position in 1996 to pursue a business career.

Sources: Shelagh Gastrow, 1995. Who's who in South African Politics, Number 5. Johannesburg: Ravan Press.

Peter Joyce, A Concise Dictionary of South African Biography (1999). Francolin : Cape Town.

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. Return to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory site.