No one has done it in such a forthright manner before, but yesterday Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema attacked Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini for fanning black-on-black violence with his statements about the expropriation of land without compensation.
Malema, who said he feared nobody, became the first politician to openly criticise the monarch, who this week urged chiefs to fight anyone who attempted to expropriate land controlled by the Ingonyama Trust. The king is the patron of the trust.
Zwelithini said anyone who tried to interfere with the land under his jurisdiction would face the wrath of the Zulus in a war similar to that waged by the Israelis and Palestinians over Jerusalem. He added that Zulus were as attached to their land as Muslims were to Mecca.
The king’s comments, made during the opening of the KwaZulu-Natal legislature and later the provincial house of traditional leaders, sparked fears that Zulus could interpret it as a licence to attack those associated with land expropriation.
The king also accused government of failing to arrest foreigners from neighbouring countries who steal vehicles from South Africans to take aross the borders.
Malema warned Zwelithini to desist from threatening violence.
“The Zulu king must stop these threats of violence. We are not scared. I am scared of no one. No amount of violence can scare me because some of us are surprised that we are still alive today,” he said.
The firebrand leader said that if the land under the control of traditional leaders was intended to benefit people, the state could expropriate it and redistribute to the people, even if it was done through vehicles like the Ingonyama Trust. Land could be owned by the state and then transferred to the Trust to benefit the people equitably, he said.
“Let us not talk war, let us not beat the war drum. We love the Zulu king, but we must discuss issues openly even if we disagree with the king.
“We have never promised war on the Zulu king, we have never promised war on the whites, no one is talking war here. We are saying let us have a peaceful engagement,” he said.
Malema said Zwelithini must be aware that any action that pitted blacks against blacks was unacceptable.
“We want every Zulu-speaking person to get a piece of land. If the king wants to give land through the Ingonyama Trust, he must convince the EFF and the government,” Malema said.
Malema also accused the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal of tip-toeing around the issue of land expropriation without compensation, despite the ANC national conference resolving in December to implement the policy.
“They don’t even have respect for their own resolution,” Malema said, referring to statements made by KZN Premier Willies Mchunu during his state of the province address indicating the province did not support the policy.
The EFF leader said this contradicted the ANC conference decision.
Zwelithini’s spokesperson Prince Thulani Zulu declined to comment.
“It’s just a political statement unless Malema comes to speak to the king,” he said.
King Goodwill Zwelithini:
- Called for foreigners to be deported (April 2015).
- Snubbed a panel probing subsequent attacks on foreigners following his remarks (April 2016).
- The South African Human Rights Commission exonerated the king of hate speech (September 2016).
- Demanded salary fit for a king (September 2017).
- Made further remarks on foreigners, saying they steal cars from “our people” (March 2018).
- No official state statement condemning Zwelithini’s statements (March 2018).
- Zwelithini will earn a salary of R1.1 million per annum for the 2017- 18 financial year.
- Budget allocation of R58 million for his household per year.