King Goodwill Zwelithini. Picture: Sibonelo Ngcobo/African News Agency (ANA)

Pietermaritzburg - Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini has urged Members of the Provincial Legislature (MPLs) to take their oversight role seriously, saying the success of KwaZulu-Natal depended heavily on the cooperation of the legislature and provincial cabinet. 

He said this when he delivered the keynote address to mark the official opening of the sixth KZN Legislature on Thursday. 

The king congratulated new MPLs, KZN Premier Sihle Zikalala and applauded the work done by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) in running free and fair elections whose results were accepted by everyone.

 His Majesty said with the elections now over it was important for everyone to play their role in making KZN better and emphasised the role of the legislature and MPLs. "As members of this House you are tasked with political oversight, a task that you should take seriously," said the King, calling on MPLs to read more so that they would be knowledgeable and properly armed to play their oversight role.

He warned against public representatives that were aloof and out of touch with the experiences of the people they represent.

"The Legislature is the most important link between the public and the executive ... it should keep government in touch with popular feelings and alert it to issues on which the public feels strongly. Although governments are directly accountable to the public at elections, in between, it is up to the legislature to call members of the executive to account. An effective legislature is therefore, a key element in ensuring public faith in the political process," the King continued.

His Majesty called for bold leadership that would unite people for common action for the betterment of the country and warned that KwaZulu-Natal will never succeed if there are leaders that fear to take decisions that are not popular because of public sentiments which may be misdirected. He added that KZN needs a strong constructive opposition in order to develop for the benefit of the province's citizens and stressed that the opposition also carries a national responsibility to which it should contribute in a positive way. 

"Although it is normal for parties to differ in a democracy, both the government of the day and the opposition must remember, during their political fights in the Legislature and outside, that they do not represent themselves but the people who have elected them and those who chose not to vote, said the king." 

Former president Jacob Zuma, and former provincial premier Willies Mchunu were among the guests that attended Thursday's official opening. The opening of the legislature was held at the legislature, not at the Royal Showgrounds as has been the case in the past, and this is part of government's cost containment measures. 

On Friday Zikalala will deliver his first State of the Province Address where he is expected to map out provincial government priorities for the new five-year term.   

African News Agency/ANA