Durban - King Goodwill Zwelithini is in the firing line from the Young Communist League (YCL), referring to him as “one fellow”, and sharply criticising the king for venturing into politics with the comments he made during a Heritage Day speech.
YCL deputy secretary, Isaac Luthuli, this week said the king had spoiled the mood of the day with an address he made at the Umkhosi weLembe event last Thursday.
“I am saying that he tried to spoil our mood precisely because of some utterances he made against government, in particular the KwaZulu-Natal government, during the occasion of the Heritage Day.”
Statements by the YCL are often articulate views more widely held in the Tripartite Alliance.
During his address in KwaDukuza, the king lashed out at the KwaZulu-Natal government for erecting banners that bore photos of politicians.
He had wanted the banners to have his photo and complained about maintenance of his palaces.
The monarch had also presented a wish-list, including a royal defence force, power to appoint and dismiss junior traditional leaders, and 17-gun salute, among other things.
Although Premier Senzo Mchunu has declined to respond to the king’s comments, that did not stop the YCL to launch a scathing attack.
Luthuli, also education MEC Peggy Nkonyeni’s spokesman, said the king was venturing into politics and should not expect respect in return as traditional rules did not apply.
“I think the king is over-exaggerating his role in the political space and is venturing into wrong territory that is not suitable for him at all.
“Once you enter or attempt to mingle into a political platform you will be definitely treated as a politician.”
Luthuli said departments, including the Office of the Premier, could not be castigated and dictated to on which banners they should display.
He dared the king to organise his own celebration of Umkhosi weLembe, which is also known as Shaka Day, using his own money.
“It will be within his right to deploy banners and whatever material advertising and showcasing the royal house.”
Luthuli pointed out that during an imbizo on xenophobia convened by the provincial government this year, the monarch had made no remarks on the banners that fluttered at Moses Mabhida Stadium.
He questioned the timing of the monarch’s statements, especially that they were ahead of the municipal elections and the ANC KZN elective conference.
“These days the king seems to be so cosy with (Mangosuthu) Buthelezi, who is a leader of the IFP. This comes at a time where we are approaching local government elections whilst the IFP is so weak like one teabag in a big pot of water,” he said.
He said the monarch appeared to have taken sides on who should lead the ruling party amid the contest between Mchunu and secretary Sihle Zikalala.
Luthuli’s sentiments were shared by YCL spokesman Khaya Xaba, who on Tuesday, reminded the king that he was never elected and his demands were unnecessary.
“If he wants more power, then he should consider running for elections,” Xaba said.
He said the R56 million budget allocated to the king’s royal household should be slashed.
“That is way too much money to give to one individual in a country ravaged by poverty, unemployment and inequalities,” Xaba said.
Prince Thulani Zulu, spokesman for royal household, said the king’s speech was aimed at government leaders, who seemed to have understood.
Zulu also said he did not want to drag the king into mud-slinging with the YCL.
“Our culture does not allow that. I don’t take it seriously,” he said. “Anyway, in a democracy, young people have a right to say anything,” Zulu said.
Meanwhile, the unusual criticism levelled at King Goodwill Zwelithini by the Young Communist League (YCL) this week was condemned by some organisations on Thursday.
There was, however, silence from certain organisations, including the SACP and the ANC.
IFP national chairman, Blessed Gwala, said the YCL had gone too far in attacking the king who was addressing his subjects in the government.
“As a father of the nation, he was right to voice his displeasure about issue without anyone, including the YCL being a mouthpiece of those serving the government.
“It is uncalled for, unwarranted and it is unusual and uncultural for young people to attack the king,” Gwala said. The NFP Youth Brigade’s Sibusiso Mncwabe said it was taboo and disrespectful to challenge and exchange words with an elderly person. “It’s worse when you do it to the father of the nation,” Mncwabe said.
“(The) YCL has lost respect and family values, and need to rebirth,” he added.
KZN-based pressure group, Injeje yamaNguni, also waded in the criticism against the monarch.
The group’s Phumlani Mfeya said the quiescence of elders in the Tripartite Alliance was an indication they knew the consequences of challenging the monarch.
“They (YCL) choose to become parrots who irresponsibly repeat things spoken by their seniors behind closed doors instead of having their pulse on pertinent youth issues,” Mfeya said.