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By Eric Naki

Political Editor

Don’t laugh the Zulu king off, analysts warn

More traditional leaders throughout SA feeling threatened by the land debate could also rise up, with disastrous consequences.

The call by Zulu king Goodwill Zwelithini for KwaZulu-Natal to secede from the rest of South Africa and re-establish a Zulu homeland should be taken seriously. It is not an empty threat, political analysts said yesterday.

The experts said Zwelithini’s call could be echoed by other traditional leaders across the country, and that monarchs all over the world could not exist without land.

Analyst Ralph Mathekga said the ANC-led democratic government had blundered in the manner it had handled the land question and that could soon backfire.

Mathekga said Zwelithini was within his rights to reject the suggestion for the dissolution of the Ingonyama Trust, as his monarchy would be meaningless without land.

Mathekga was reacting to a suggestion by Zwelithini that Zulu people would rather break away from South Africa and establish a separate Zulu homeland than allow their land to be taken away. He said the Ingonyama Trust would not be dissolved and that Zulus were prepared to go to war in defence of their land.

Zwelithini was speaking at the land imbizo he organised at Ulundi under the Ingonyama Trust.

The Zulu monarch was angered by the recommendation of the high-level panel led by former president Kgalema Motlanthe that recommended the Ingonyama Trust be dissolved and people given title deeds to own the land directly.

“Imagine a monarchy without land. This is no empty threat. We should not take lightly the call for possible secession by the Zulu king. This matter has been approached in an amateurish manner,” Mathekga said.

The ANC government had failed to deal with the land issue timeously and in a proper manner. Instead, it kept on politicking and failed to consider what it meant for the different stakeholders.

Mathekga said the way government had handled the land issue could boomerang. It could spread to the rest of the country, as other traditional leaders could also resist and even resort to violence to protect their land from being taken.

“If the Zulu monarch is given preferential treatment on this, others will respond in the same manner. Politicians should have thought deeply about it carefully and not in this amateurish manner,” said Mathekga. 

Many who attended the gathering – including chiefs and politicians (among them Police Minister Bheki Cele, KwaZulu-Natal Premier Willies Mchunu and Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi of the IFP) – called for the Ingonyama Trust and Zwelithini to be left alone.

Representatives from various areas of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng said anyone who interferred with the king’s land would face their anger. They threatened bloodshed and “to die where the king would die”.

Another analyst, Somadoda Fikeni, said all the threats should be taken seriously.

“It’s serious. Not only in KwaZulu-Natal but all traditional leaders who feel threatened by this will rise up,” Fikeni said.

He said the current situation was taking a dangerous turn as a certain ethnic group was being mobilised for nationalism and war, something that could have unintended consequences for the country.

“There are no two ways about this; it is very serious,” Fikeni said.

The analyst said Zwelithini’s call for the land under the king to be left alone and his threat of war or violence could not at this stage be regarded as treason.

“As long as he is not mobilising for the overthrow of the state, it is not treason,” said Fikeni.

Speaking at the imbizo, Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans’ Association spokesperson Carl Niehaus criticised Motlanthe for an “unjustified attack” on traditional leaders with his suggestion for the dissolution of the Ingonyama Trust.

He said Motlanthe’s report was not adopted by the ANC and no resolution was taken by the party on the Trust.

“The ANC should be concerned about the land that was stolen by whites from the black South Africans. The ANC was formed and carried by traditional leaders and therefore should not betray them,” Niehaus said.


ALSO READ: I’m not beating the drums of war – Buthelezi to land imbizo

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