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By Eric Naki

Political Editor

Zulu king Zwelithini: Long live defender of his people

The king was a great visionary who had deep insights how best to develop the country and its people, Ramaphosa said.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has praised Zulu king Goodwill Zwelithini as a bridge-builder between various cultures and a peacemaker who pursued efforts to end violence and political killings in KwaZulu-Natal during his lifetime.

He said the king appreciated the importance of unity and social cohesion – meeting people across cultures and religion in the province, something that helped to bridge racial, cultural and religious divides.

He built bridges among traditional communities, too.

In a eulogy he delivered during king’s funeral service in Nongoma yesterday, Ramaphosa also acknowledged the role played by former president Jacob Zuma and others in ending the violence that happened in the early ’90s that threated the dawn of democracy.

Killings in KwaZulu-Natal began with the Msinga civil war in the ’80s, followed by conflict between Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) and members of the United Democratic Front, and bloody confrontations between ANC and IFP members in the early ’90s.

Nelson Mandela, working with IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi, Zuma and the king, intervened. Post-’94 killings have continued among ANC councillors and politicians who fought over party and government positions.

The ongoing political killings have precipitated a commission of inquiry. Ramaphosa said during Zwelithini’s reign, the Zulu kingdom achieved the stability and harmony that had so long eluded it.

The monarch would be remembered as the staunchest defender of his people.

“He not only defended them and advanced the interests of the Zulu people but advanced their cultures, their customs, their traditions and a deep sense of identity and nationhood. He is celebrated across our beloved continent because he valued diversity and respected the culture of other kingdoms and nations,” Ramaphosa said.

Talking about his role as a peacemaker, the president said the king brought peace and stability in KZN during the difficult times the country went through.

“As a leader, he preached peace and unity, he abhorred violence and its consequences. As the country moved towards democracy, he called for an end to political killings, travelling around the country meeting and encouraging people to resort to peaceful means of resolving conflict.”

The king was a great visionary who had deep insights how best to develop the country and its people, Ramaphosa said.

The monarch, who died of Covid-19-related complications, championed the fights against HIV-Aids, sexually transmitted diseases and the Covid-19 pandemic. He despised the abuse of women and children.

“The late king was a soldier against gender-based violence,” he said. “Let it be clearly understood that moral courage was one of his noblest virtues. He encouraged young people to be safe from sexually transmitted diseases, from substance abuse and from premature parenthood.The king supported male circumcision (ukusoka) among the Zulu people that was initiated by the government.”

Ramaphosa said the project would remain part of Zwelithini’s enduring legacy, adding the monarch called on his amakhosi, izinduna and community leaders in the province to support the initiative.

Other speakers included Prince Buthelezi as the king’s traditional prime minister and KZN premier Sihle Zikalala. Buthelezi said under Zwelithini, the traditional leadership became stronger.

Zikalala said with Zwelithini’s death, a big tree had fallen. He praised the king for bring peace among hostel dwellers, not discriminating among religions and races – “because they all belonged to him. We thank His Majesty for his wisdom.”


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