Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini. File picture: SUNDAY TIMES/TEBOGO LETSIE
Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini. File picture: SUNDAY TIMES/TEBOGO LETSIE

Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini has warned of a clash of nations should the state make good on moves to dissolve the Ingonyama Trust board and cede thousands of hectares of traditional land to the state.

A defiant Zwelithini was speaking at an imbizo in Ulundi in northern KwaZulu-Natal on Wednesday.

The mood and sentiments expressed by the Zulu king have set a sensitive tone for the constitutional review committee hearings to take place in the province from July 18 to 21.

"What I want you to know about our history is that the issue we are faced with now is very similar to the one our forefathers were faced with.

"This will be the second clash," he told thousands who gathered for the event.

Wednesday’s gathering marked the 139th anniversary of the battle of Ulundi, a decisive battle during the Anglo-Zulu War. More than 500 Zulu warriors were killed and King Cetshwayo was forced to flee for safety. He was captured in the Ngome forest and exiled to Robben Island off Cape Town, according to history books.


The call to assemble also came as the state adopts a posture of change, informed by a high-level panel on the assessment of key legislation and fundamental change recommendation that the Ingonyama Trust Act should be repealed or amended, and the Ingonyama Trust should be collapsed.

This, traditional leaders say, would spell doom for traditional authority in SA, with the Zulus the first to fall.

But Zwelithini said that he, like his forefathers, would be resilient and rebuff any attempt to "take" the land.

"I was born from a brave man and that is why I know I will be victorious against those who are trying to take my land," he said.

"It is 2018 and we are faced with the same issue that we were faced with in the olden days. The difference is that it is now coming from a black man and not a white one. The war our fathers faced before is the same war we are faced with today."

In terms of the legal framework of the Ingonyama Trust, Zwelithini is the sole trustee of the land.

The act provides for the establishment of a board to administer the affairs of the trust and the trust’s land.

But the panel, which recommended the scrapping of the act and the dissolution of the board, has found that the trust’s current practices were inconsistent with the government’s land policy and did not secure land tenure for residents.

Zwelithini said that any move to compromise his hold on the swathes of traditional land was an insult to Zulu culture itself.

"I am here to remind you who birthed you. This is important because someone who knows themselves knows that what we are faced with today is spitting on the work of our forefathers," he said.

"The truth is that this nation that we fought for so hard, that we were arrested for, that we died for, today we are being punished. They are saying we must be stripped of what we have. Where must we go? We thought we were part of South Africa. The truth is that our existence is an annoyance."

The king also had terse words for political parties and made veiled references to EFF leader Julius Malema.

"I will not be disrespected by children who are not older than my own children, who say they aren’t afraid of me. A child who thinks they can just do and say what they want about me because they lead a political party, I am too old for that.

"You await to hear what the future holds for you, so that you can make a decision. One of the decisions you need to make is that how much longer will you allow yourselves to be bullied by people who ask you to vote but don’t like you, they only like your vote," he said.