'Zulu king was reflecting on apartheid, not defending it'
Just weeks after being exonerated by the SA Human Rights Commission after claims that he sparked xenophobic attacks, King Goodwill Zwelithini has again reportedly ruffled some feathers.
This time the Zulu king reportedly praised apartheid’s National Party saying it had “built a mighty army” and that the economy was stronger under its reign.
But on Monday the Royal Household said the King was speaking as someone who had lived through apartheid and knew the good and the bad of the system.
The king was speaking at KwaKhethomthandayo royal palace in Nongoma on Saturday night during the celebration of his 44 years as king of the Zulu nation.
The Mercury reported on Monday that Zwelithini praised the National Party, saying it “had built a powerful government with the strongest economy and army on the continent, but then came “this so-called democracy” in “which black people started destroying the gains of the past”.
‘He was reflecting’
Zwelithini also reportedly said the Afrikaners respected him very much.
But royal household spokesperson Prince Thulani Zulu told News24 that the king was quoted out of context.
“He said he was born in 1948 and he had lived through apartheid and he knew the good and the bad of the system.
“He said there were good and bad things that were done during apartheid and he was reflecting [on] some of those issues.”
Zulu said because he was born in that era, he is able to reflect on both the apartheid and democratic governments.
“The king also speaks out when there is good and bad in the democratic government because it too is not perfect.”
‘Take the good that came out of apartheid’
Zulu said the king was merely reflecting and speaking about his own experiences.
“He told the gathering that he learnt how to farm from the Afrikaners, who were good at it. He said the white farmers knew everything from the weather, to blending stock and ploughing crops, today he uses the skills he learnt from the white farmers.”
Zulu said the king told the nation that it should take the good that came out of apartheid, using the Union Buildings as an example.
“The king never spoke about the economy. He did however tell people that they need to stop destroying infrastructure; it doesn’t matter when it was built. That is not promoting apartheid."
Zulu said the king mentioned the Afrikaners always respected him because he stood his ground and always gave constructive criticism. When they did something wrong, he told them.
“He also said that they respected him because he could not be bought, he stood firm in what he believed in.”
The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) recently handed over its preliminary report to Zwelithini to comment. The report investigated utterances allegedly made during a moral regeneration event in Pongolo in March.
Zwelithini reportedly told foreign nationals to pack their belongings and leave South Africa. The utterances were feared to have sparked xenophobic attacks in the province.
The SAHRC reportedly found that his utterances did not incite violence but were “hurtful and harmful” to foreigners and recommended that Zwelithini make a public apology.
The final report is expected to be released in February 2016.