“The Zulus inherited the land from their ancestors and what is now being suggested is an insult to the ancestors. Anyone who wants to take away our inheritance does not like us,” he said, while addressing the imbizo held at the Ulundi sports ground.
In a show of force, the king convened the Zulu nation imbizo to discuss what he says are threats against the Ingonyama Trust, which administers traditional land in KwaZulu-Natal. More gatherings will be held in Durban and Johannesburg. The king, the sole trustee of the Ingonyama Trust, lamented what he says is ill treatment of the Zulus by the government, saying that even the treatment of Ingonyama Trust board by some parliamentarians was demeaning to his stature.
“The government now needs to look into the conduct of the portfolio committee on land. I cannot have my board being ill treated by young children The lawmakers need to stop provoking the Zulu nation on the issue of land,” he said, adding that some were provoking the Zulus because they want to see the country in flames. The king said the Ingonyama Trust land was under threat following a recommendation by a high-level panel, chaired by former president Kgalema Motlanthe.
The panel had recommended that the Ingonyama Trust Act be repealed or amended. The former president has become enemy number one to many of the king’s subjects who attended the imbizo. A group of amabutho arrived at the stadium brandishing traditional weapons and singing “uyadelela uMotlanthe (Motlanthe is rude)”. Also speaking at the gathering, the Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans spokesperson Carl Niehaus apologised for what he called an “unjustified attack” on traditional leadership by Motlanthe.
“Let us not try to attack our traditional leaders. As a member of the ANC, I must express my concern and in fact I must express my apology,” he said to applause. King Zwelithini, while saying he was not calling for war, reminded the Zulus of the bravery of their forefathers who fought wars against land dispossession. The imbizo was held to coincide with the 139th anniversary of the attack on King Cetshwayo’s Ondini palace, in 1879.
“When the enemy was attacking you stood firm,” the king said, adding that Zulus should unite irrespective of their political affiliation. Some politicians should think they are demigods. Zulus are not stupid and they do not worship any politician.”
The king urged his subjects to reflect on whether political parties still like them as Zulus or not. Mgiliji Nhleko, an induna who is also a commander of the Zulu regiments, said amabutho were ready to defend the land with their lives. “Our forefathers died for this land. When are we going to die? Zulus are not afraid to die for their land, for their wives and for their livestock,” said Nhleko.
IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi, who was speaking in his capacity as the traditional prime minister of the Zulu nation, called on the government to give clear answers about traditional land. “Government cannot shy away from explaining itself. Our nation deserves answers But in truth we deserve more than that. We deserve to retain our land and to enjoy the authority of our monarch,” Buthelezi said.
Buthelezi also said he was not calling for war but warned that without land the king would be reduced to nothing. He said taking land away from the king’s control was akin to ripping the soul from the Zulu nation. Calls for KwaZulu-Natal to be renamed were also made by some of the speakers who believe that Natal should be removed from the name to reassert the king’s authority in the province.
“We do not know where this Natal comes from. The province should be called KwaZulu because all the province belongs to the king and it should be returned to the king,” said Nkosenhle Shezi, who referred to himself as the champion for radical economic transformation. Shezi was representing organisations like Delangokubona and Nafupa SA.