5 memorable quotes by the late King Goodwill Zwelithini as recorded over the years

The late King Goodwill Zwelithini. Picture: Mandla Mkhize/African News Agency (ANA)

The late King Goodwill Zwelithini. Picture: Mandla Mkhize/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Mar 12, 2022


Nongoma - The late combative and unyielding King Goodwill Zwelithini who passed away aged 72 on March 12 last year after ruling the Zulu nation for almost half a century, was a fountain of great wisdom.

Although he left a debatable legacy, over the years he dished out memorable quotes on corruption, illegal immigration, HIV, tribal land of the Zulus, and many other issues of national importance.

On the first anniversary of his passing, IOL's senior political journalist, Sihle Mavuso, looks back at some of his best quotes.

1. On illegal immigrants

He was always vocal on illegal immigration, even when big South African corporations operating throughout the African continent felt he was harming their interests.

“Everyone has got his or her own home, no one can claim he or she doesn't have one... so people must go back (to their countries), they must go back,” he said in 2015 while he was addressing his people in Pongola in northern KwaZulu-Natal.

It was later claimed that the comment led to the xenophobic attacks that later rocked Durban where foreign nationals were attacked and displaced. The South African Human Rights Commission cleared the King.

IOL honours the life and contribution of His Majesty King Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu with this special commemorative digital magazine. It features moving personal tributes from Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, traditional Prime Minister to the Zulu Monarch and Nation; Jacob Zuma; Ela Gandhi; Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Cogta Minister; and Nigel Ward, on behalf of the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The wonderful images accompanying each of these tributes are perfectly complemented by a stunning photo spread capturing the King’s life and passing.

2. On the Land issue

To the Zulu nation, the issue of rural and tribal land under the control of the king has always been a hotly debated one since time immemorial. When it was once recommended that their King should lose such control, he freaked out.

“The Zulus inherited the land from their ancestors and what is now being suggested is an insult to those historic ancestors. Anyone who wants to take away our lifelong inheritance is against us,” the King said in July 2018 during an imbizo after a Kgalema Motlanthe panel recommended that the state must take over all land owned by Ingonyama trust.

3. On Education

The late King was also deeply involved in initiatives to promote education, subsistence agriculture and social work, so much so that at some point, the University of Zululand, twice, conferred him with honorary degrees - first in 1994 and later in 2018.

“So, my good people (to honour my 70th birthday) next year (work hard so that) you can achieve 100% when I turn 70. This can only happen if we improve our performance (as a province) on certain subjects. The ball is in your court,” the King said in 2018 while telling the provincial department of education to improve its results.

4. On Corruption

The late King hated corrupt people and politicians so much that he used many occasions to lash out at them.

In one particular and widely circulated video he called corrupt people thieves. Distinctively, while addressing the Zulu nation from Ulundi in July 2018, he took aim at corrupt politicians.

“Even God himself does not like corrupt people, corrupt people who point fingers at others and accuse them of corruption when they are the most corrupt people on earth," the King said in Zulu.

5. On the HIV pandemic

When the legendary King Shaka, the great grandfather of the late King took over the throne from his father, King Senzangakhona, he developed an expansionist agenda. He wanted to have a standing army that would conquer the world (Africa).

However, he was worried that at some point during the year, a lot of young men who were eligible to go to war would go to the mountain to be circumcised, then later have to spend time healing their wounds.

He banned the centuries-old practice of the Ngunis (Zulus, Xhosas, Swatis and Ndebeles) and decreed that it should cease henceforth. Decades later, one of his descendants realised that it was harmful and revoked the ban to halt the spread of HIV among his people.

“I don't want to lose any of my Zulu people... As I have revived this circumcision, I'm showing my love to my people. Let's hold our hands together. But you young ones, accept ... listen to your king's call (and circumcise to halt the spread of HIV/Aids) - The King said in July 2010 while encouraging his people who were often called subjects, to cut the foreskin.

[email protected]

Political Bureau