King Goodwill Zwelithini. Picture: THULI DLAMINI
King Goodwill Zwelithini. Picture: THULI DLAMINI

Zulu monarch King Goodwill Zwelithini has thrown down the gauntlet to the KwaZulu-Natal provincial government‚ stating that the sensitive issue of traditional leadership and land can still be resolved through negotiations rather than the courts.

Zwelithini was speaking at his Osuthu royal palace in Nongoma in northern KwaZulu-Natal where the newly appointed provincial cabinet ministers were officially introduced to him by premier Sihle Zikalala.

The king said he is a forthright person who calls a spade a spade. “I’m going to say it to you who are here in front of me. It might happen that you like ubukhosi [traditional leadership] but you don’t fully understand how it works. This made you do some mistakes that could be be resolved through negotiations. This is a good start to sit down and correct each other.” 

He was referring to the issue of the installation of some of the traditional leaders that was challenged by the provincial government as illegitimate. He also referred to a court case between the Ingonyama Trust‚ which administers tribal land on his behalf‚ and the eThekwini municipality over the collection of rates from tribal land.

The Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) barred the municipality from collecting rates from land administered by the Ingonyama Trust.

“There is no need for this because it results to unnecessary tension‚” said Zwelithini.

The king said while Zikalala’s predecessors had tried to pursue some programmes‚ some of their efforts didn’t materialise because of a change in government and a lack of communication between traditional leadership and government employees.

He said some politicians do not want traditional leadership to be independent. The king said that while he did not like to talk politics he was tempted to say something as far as the ANC in the province was concerned — that the ANC as the leader of government and society has a responsibility to ensure there is effective legislature as a basis for an effective government.

“I know the government is a public institution that formulates policies and procedures for the functioning of the country. So I’m emphasising this context so that you are aware of the value that people put on you as individuals and as a collective.

“I’m saying all these things as an elderly person with experience of so many years being the monarch of this kingdom you are leading today.”

However‚ the king said‚ if the provincial government was serious when it said “the Zulu Kingdom calls”‚ it should look to the state of his palaces‚ which do not reflect the dignity they deserve. He complained that some of the palaces were in a state of disrepair.

“When people do things properly‚ I don’t make noise‚” he said.

Zikalala promised the monarch that the provincial government would look into the issues that he had highlighted‚ including the refurbishment of his palaces. “We’re going to continue with all programmes that are relevant to the royal family. We’re going to increase our communication with the king and traditional leaders.” 

The king‚ who was accompanied by one his six wives‚ Queen Nompumelelo MaMchiza; Ingonyama Trust chair Judge Jerome Ngwenya; and other members of the royal family‚ was presented with four cattle — a Boran‚ a Beef Muster and two Ngunis — by the ANC provincial government.