DURBAN – KwaZulu-Natal’s Zulu king on Wednesday, told scores of loyal supporters that they must not allow themselves to be further provoked by the proposed scrapping or amendment of the controversial Ingonyama Trust Act.
King Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu was speaking at a sports stadium in Ulundi at a land imbizo that he had called.
The imbizo also marked the 139th anniversary of the Battle of Ulundi, where the British army broke the military power of the Zulu nation. It was the last of the major battles of the Anglo-Zulu War.
Traditional leaders, loyalists and representatives from several civil society movements attended the event. Police Minister Bheki Cele and KZN premier Willies Mchunu were also in attendance.
The Ingonyama Trust Act was pushed through on the eve of the 1994 elections to secure the involvement of the Inkatha Freedom Party in the country’s first democratic election.
Speaking in isiZulu before a crowd of close on 4000 people, Zwelithini said the Zulu nation inherited the land from their ancestors and any attempt to strip them of their ownership would be an insult to the ancestors.
"Anyone who wants to take away our inheritance does not like us," he said.
“I did not choose to be black and I did not choose to be a king. What we see today is that we are being discriminated against. It has become clear that the Zulus are not wanted. War has been declared against all Zulus.”
The Ingonyama Trust owns about 29.67 percent of mostly deep rural land in the KwaZulu-Natal province. The king is the sole trustee of the land, which is divided according to clans and is overseen by traditional leaders.
Zwelithini said that a new regiment, known as Ingaba, would be established to 'defend' the Ingonyama Trust.
The future of the Trust has come under intense public scrutiny since the release in November last year of a report titled the “High Level Panel on the Assessment of Key Legislation and the Acceleration of Fundamental Change”.
Chaired by former president Kgalema Motlanthe, the panel recommended that “the Ingonyama Trust Act be repealed, or substantially amended, to protect existing customary land rights”.
But Zwelithini told Wednesday’s gathering that government should stop focusing on land and instead focus on its leadership abilities. He also called on the state to respect the Zulu nation.
He said some politicians were behaving as if they were “gods”.
“Zulus are not stupid, they do not worship politicians,” he said.
“There is nothing as painful as being governed by thieves,” said the Zulu monarch.
Political leaders should be open and honest about their feelings for those of Zulu descent, he said.