Durban - Talks between the government and King Goodwill Zwelithini about a traditional leadership academy for KwaZulu-Natal are at an advanced stage.
Zwelithini went public with his dream for the King Bhekuzulu Institute during the opening of the KZN Provincial House of Traditional Leaders in Ulundi on Friday last week.
“I want to open an academy where our sons will be groomed to be responsible leaders who will be at the forefront of development in the country. The King Bhekuzulu Institute will also help strengthen brotherly ties between amakhosi from a young age,” he said.
The institute, which will be named after Zwelthini’s father, will have a multi-disciplinary approach to education.
This will include management, finances, development, “how to lead ethically and responsibly, how to work with people and the government and the history and cultures of all African countries”.
Zwelithini said it saddened him that most people thought traditional leaders were against democracy, and he hoped that future chiefs would help strengthen the ties between the political and traditional spheres.
“An example of a good chief is one who respects his king, himself and his people. If you are a leader, you need to have your morals in check and not encourage things like ukuthwala (where girls are kidnapped and forced into marriage). You also need to watch your alcohol consumption,” he said.
Lennox Mabaso, spokesman for the Provincial Department of Corporative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta), said MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube had a continuous partnership with Zwelithini to ensure that amakhosi were skilled to lead in the modern world and across cultures.
“This has resulted in an indigenous knowledge systems programme which has been running at the University of KwaZulu-Natal for three years. More than 100 amakhosi have qualified and some have been inspired to take up more studies after that,” Mabaso said.
He said that after examining the success of the programme, Dube-Ncube and Zwelithini saw that there was a need for the institute.
“We live in a fast-paced world with things like ‘globalisation’. This comes with dangers of possibly eradicating some of our traditional values and customs which form a great part of our identity,” said Mabaso. “The King Bhekuzulu Institute will empower amakhosi on the preservation of those values and customs while being relevant.”
He could not divulge where or when the academy would be built, but that “all the details will be revealed soon”.
Professor Nogwaja Zulu, from the UKZN’s School of Arts, said it was possible for Zwelithini to ask one of the higher-education institutions to host the new institute as some already had courses in traditional leadership.
His colleague, Professor Sihawu Ngubane, said he fully supported the idea of having an institute specialising in training amakhosi.
“In the past, there was a Bhekuzulu College in Nongoma which was established to provide leadership skills to young princes. With the change in politics and some other influences, this college was closed down. I think to revive it will be ideal, instead of reinventing the wheel,” he said.