King slates virginity testing critics
Durban - In an apparent swipe at critics of virginity testing, King Goodwill Zwelithini said they were “self-proclaimed custodians of the constitution” who thought they could decide for others.
Speaking at the official opening of the KwaZulu-Natal legislature, the king said proponents for the rights of people should accept that Zulu maidens would continue to participate in Umkhosi woMhlanga (the reed dance festival).
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“Those who claim to stand for the rights of people should stop saying there are Zulu festivals that are similar to Umkhosi woMhlanga.
“They should accept it as truth that the maidens will bring the reeds to Nyokeni (royal palace), even this year and years to come,” he said, to applause from the lawmakers.
He made the comments in the wake of recent reports that the uThukela District Municipality had awarded maidens’ bursaries to 16 young women on condition they remained virgins.
The bursaries received criticism, with some virginity testing critics saying it was discriminatory among girls, and that the cultural practice was unconstitutional.
Also read: Folly of forced virginity testing
While he did not name virginity testing critics by name, the king said there were some people who thought they were the ones who had rights and could decide for others.
“They speak as if the South African constitution was formulated for them. They are self-proclaimed, who have given themselves the status of being the ‘police’ of the constitution.
“The problem is that they don’t wait for the Constitutional Court to make a ruling on the matter; instead, they are the first to state that the practising of certain cultures and religions is unlawful,” he said.
“These members of our family have a problem and need to be taught because I know they think they know it all and nobody can fault them,” the king said.
In his speech, that highlighted challenges facing the province and the country, the monarch said every family should set aside differences and look into issues confronting it.
“In their co-operation they should not agree on everything, but in the main they should agree the family unit should not be destroyed.”
He said he was making the point to the lawmakers because he knew they did not agree on everything, because they came from different parties.
“I say this knowing fully well that you know your task is to make sure the KZN and South African family and its principles are not destroyed.”
He expressed his concern at a lack of leaders from all racial groups who were not able to rise beyond their party differences.
“What is disappointing citizens is that they see impatient leaders who don’t accept each other, and discuss and come up with a single vision.”
The monarch also said the tension between police and communities contrasted with the spirit envisioned of a police force meant to protect the community.
“What is happening shows that there is some sickness,” the king said.
He added that another challenge were families which left it to teachers to educate young people, and civil servants who were pre-occupied with themselves.
“The matric results in KwaZulu-Natal should concern us equally, because at the end of the day these are our children.
“This is no time for excuses, but we should ask ourselves what role we can play to assist in the education of our children.”
The king also complained that unemployment among the youth remained a big challenge, saying: “This situation can cause a big problem if it is left unattended…”
He noted with concern the emergence of the race card in the country years after much work had been done towards racial harmony. “It does not augur well if you see members of (South African) family from different racial groups going back to the racial grouping of the past when things don’t go well.
“We should accept that there is no family that can be developed if there is no programme of reconciliation.”