Introduction of His Majesty the King
Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP
Inkosi of the Buthelezi Clan
Traditional Prime Minister to the Zulu Monarch and Nation
And President of the Inkatha Freedom Party
Moses Mabhida Stadium: Durban
His Majesty the King of the Zulu Nation; Amakhosi and Indunas; leaders in Government and leaders within our nation.
In the present atmosphere of acrimony, violence and contempt, we must thank our King for having the wisdom to call an imbizo. South Africa is seized with a crisis that has the eyes of the world upon us.
Under these circumstances, my position as traditional Prime Minister to the Zulu Monarch and Nation affords me the privilege of introducing His Majesty our King as he rises to speak to his people. I carried this same responsibility under the father of the present king, King Cyprian Bhekuzulu Nyangayezizwe ka Solomon, just as my father served under King Solomon ka Dinuzulu and my paternal great grandfather, Mnyamana Buthelezi, served under my maternal great grandfather, King Cetshwayo, in charge of all the King’s regiments into the battle during the Anglo-Zulu War. My grandfather Mkhandumba Buthelezi participated in the battle of Isandlwana on the 22nd of January 1879 and was prepared to give his life for King and country. His brother Mntumengana died that day. Throughout my life I have served the King loyally and with respect.
It is right that we hear from our King. We gather today in a time of crisis.
There is violence sweeping through our communities, targeted at our brothers and sisters from this continent. Our people are attacking the very neighbours who gave us refuge during our own liberation struggle. These are the people with whom we have trade ties, historical ties and ties of humanity. There is no sense in what is happening. A spark has been ignited, and it has taken flame in terrible proportions.
As often happens in times of crisis, apportioning blame seems to have taken precedence over resolving the crisis. And from many quarters, the finger of blame has fallen on the utterances of His Majesty our King. All sorts of accusations have been erroneously levelled at the King on the basis of what is presented in the media as his utterances at oPhongolo. The Minister of Police the Honourable Nathi Nhleko who was present when the King spoke has repudiated these allegations.
Our brothers and sisters from African States are welcome in our midst, just as we South Africans as refugees of Apartheid, were welcome in their own countries. His Majesty, we are made to understand merely stated that criminal elements are not welcome.
I believe our King has been used as an excuse for violent men and criminals to act out their depravity. Of all that His Majesty said, only a small part is repeatedly quoted. Let me therefore state what the King said, so that we might all be reminded.
He spoke about the sacrifices of our forefathers to gain liberation, including the imprisonment of King Cetshwayo and King Dinuzulu. Considering all that they gave to secure an inheritance of freedom for this generation, His Majesty our King lamented the character of this generation.
He said, “In 2015… South Africans (are) people who don’t want to work, who are thieves, who rape children, house breakers, lazy people who don’t want to work the land; they are people when if other nations look at them will say let’s go and eat the inheritance of these stupid people…”.
When our King then said that it’s time for us to ask them to leave, he meant it is time for South Africans to start respecting the inheritance we have received from those who struggled for our freedom. It is time for South Africans to accept hard work, the rule of law and respect for human life. It is entirely irrational that our people’s response to this call would be to trample the rule of law and discard the right to life and human dignity.
Nevertheless, xenophobia is present within South Africa and it takes little to spark violence against foreign nationals. This is shameful to us all, but it is a truth we must acknowledge if we are to arrest the violence and begin to change this reality.
We as Amakhosi and leaders in our nation have an undeniable responsibility to stop the violence. Regardless of why it started or what sparked the flame this time, it is our responsibility to put out the fire. We need to send a clear and unambiguous message to our people. They must know where we stand and what we expect them to do. Our message must be unanimous.
The fact is, chasing out other nations will not solve any of our problems, because these are our own problems. They are rooted in our own hearts. St Peter could well have been describing South Africa when he wrote in 2 Peter 2 verse 19, “They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity…".
Other nations want to come to South Africa because South Africa promises freedom. But our people are, as His Majesty described, depraved in many ways. Violence lies just below the surface. Entitlement, anger and lawlessness have corrupted the souls of our people.
Thus we are faced with a threefold crisis. The first and most pressing is to put a stop to violent attacks and intimidation against foreign nationals. The second is to find a way to remove this evil from the heart of our people and restore ubuntu/botho. The third is damage control.
In the eyes of the world, the image of the Zulu nation and the Zulu Monarch has been damaged. It is necessary to set this right. This may demand a difficult action on the part of our King. But we know that leadership demands sacrifices and our Kings have never shied away from sacrificing for the name, reputation and unity of our nation.
What we cannot do, is remain silent and allow the damaged image of our King to open the way to public denigration of the Zulu monarch by those whose animosity is usually restrained, despite being ever present.
We are already seeing this public denigration everywhere. I am astounded by what has been said about our King in the media. No one would have dared say these things before. An Editorial comment in The Mercury on Friday went so far as to call His Majesty a “paid agent of ethnic mobilisation”. In yesterday’s City Press, Mr Mondli Makhanya again vented his spleen by saying that the King allows himself to be used as a political tool. This is a repugnant accusation that denigrates our monarch in the extreme. He accuses me of using the King to build my political prestige. Did my father Mathole Buthelezi use King Solomon to build his political prestige? Did my great grandfather Mnyamana Buthelezi use King Cetshwayo? I have not “carved” out a position for myself, as Mr Makhanya claims.
Is he so ignorant about our nation? No, it is not ignorance that drives these attacks, but vitriol and contempt.
The King is the son of my first cousin, His Majesty King Cyprian Bhekuzulu Nyangayezizwe ka Solomon ka Dinuzulu. King Solomon was the full brother of my mother Princess Magogo Mantithi Ngangezinye ka Dinuzulu.
The tide of public support from outside the Zulu nation has momentarily turned against our King. Our opponents will use this opportunity to vent their spleen against us. Those who oppose the institution of the monarchy and the institution of traditional leadership will attack us now. We need to undo the damage as swiftly as possible and close this gap in the wall.
Regardless of how one interprets what His Majesty said, one thing is clear. He never decreed violence, mayhem, looting, murder or arson. Our King would by no means be retracting his words to stand before our nation and order that the violence stop. Indeed, that is imminently necessary, for our King carries more authority than any of us. Ultimately, only moral leadership will heal the damage that has been done.
This would be the first step in addressing two parts of our current crisis: damage control and arresting the violence. The third part, that of restoring ubuntu/botho in our nation, will take much longer and must be a sustained vocation among Amakhosi for years to come.
A first step, I believe, at this crucial point, would be to encourage those among our people who still have goodwill to join hands and collectively reach out to foreign nationals in our midst, offering assistance and support.
Our nation needs to be seen cleaning up this mess. We need to be seen restoring order, making amends and seeking forgiveness. This may well be the medicine of the soul that our people need.
We will rely on the wisdom of our King. Let us therefore listen, as His Majesty the King of the Zulu Nation rises to address his people.
IFP Media, Parliament