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
Enyokeni Royal Palace
His Majesty the King of the Zulu Nation, King Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu; the President of the Republic of South Africa, His Excellency Mr JG Zuma; the Premier of KwaZulu-Natal, the Honourable Mr ES Mchunu; the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, the Honourable Mr S Zokwana; the Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, the Honourable General B Cele; Honourable Members of the KwaZulu-Natal Executive Council; Honourable Members of the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development; Amakhosi of Zululand District; His Worship the Mayor of Zululand District Municipality, Councillor MA Hlatshwayo; Members of the Royal Family; and all distinguished guests.
Since ascending to the throne forty seven years ago, our reigning King has been a continual champion of agriculture, rural development and subsistence farming. His concern has been for food security, and he has led by example as a cattle farmer and a tiller of fields.
Three years ago, His Majesty the King summoned Amakhosi here to Enyokeni Royal Palace and instructed us to make optimal use of the land held under the Ingonyama Trust. We will continue to heed that instruction.
But we have faced a severe obstacle in the form of a devastating drought. I too am a farmer, leading our people by example to plough the lands, plant, and harvest, so that every family may have food on the table. Like every farmer of livestock in this province, I have lost cattle to the drought. It is painful to see one’s cattle die. But many of us are facing this pain.
I therefore commend the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development for interventions it is making to improve breed qualities, productivity and market opportunities for communal farmers. The introduction of the Boran breed is a welcome intervention, for we know that the health of our livestock industry impacts many areas beyond our economy. It affects employment levels, the dietary health of our people, and the sustainability of rural communities.
I believe that history is etched in our national psyche. We still remember the Rinderpest plague that decimated our nation’s livestock two centuries ago, leaving families destitute and forcing mass migration. It unleashed poverty among black communities whose lives were centred around livestock farming. Thanks God, Rinderpest has been eradicated. But somehow we still bear the memory of what can happen if our livestock are substantially reduced.
Because of drought, slaughter numbers increased in 2013 and higher feed grain prices kept slaughter numbers high in 2014. But the commodity cycle has now turned in favour of livestock production. According to the 2015 Agricultural Baseline of the Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy, profitability is set to become more stable and farmers will begin rebuilding their herds.
As they do that, it would be wise to rebuild with a breed that is adaptable to harsh conditions including, in particular, food scarcity. I was fascinated to learn that the Boran breed, while docile, is alert, which makes it more difficult to steal.
Stock-theft has been a bane of both small scale and commercial farmers. It discourages herd rebuilding, and dissuades subsistence farmers from keeping cattle. Thus crop farming is often preferred, despite the fact that very little of our land is well-suited to crop farming, while some 80% of it is compatible with extensive, slow-turnover livestock farming.
I am often reminded of a comment made by His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, when he visited South Africa in 2011 for an international climate change conference. He suggested that the most intelligent thing we can do, going forward, is to revisit the methods of the past. In times past, farmers used to plough their fields with oxen, and this is still done with great success in countries throughout the world. But now, even though tractors are expensive, few small scale farmers use oxen to plough.
Like the Boran breed we have been introduced to today, we too must become adaptable. It is not only the climate that is changing. We will continue to be affected by currency depreciation and the challenges of slow economic growth. We must therefore be wise, and look to food security for the future. His Majesty our King has often promoted greater subsistence farming. In an ideal future, countless small scale farmers will own cattle.
With these few words, it is my privilege as the traditional Prime Minister to the Zulu Monarch and Nation to introduce His Majesty the King.