MUSINA — King Goodwill Zwelithini, accused of inciting xenophobic violence that left at least seven immigrants dead, heads Ingonyama Trust, where President Jacob Zuma’s private Nkandla homestead — that cost taxpayers about $23 million — is located.
By Tatenda Chitagu
South Africa was hit by a wave of violence on African foreign nationals and looting of foreign shops by locals who accused them of taking their jobs and women. This was after Zwelithini made comments that demanded that foreigners “pack their bags” and leave South Africa.
Sources across the Limpopo said Zuma kept his hands off the king as his Nkandla homestead falls under Ingonyama Trust and because his ANC also desperately needed the Zulu votes.
Zuma, also from the Zulu tribe — the biggest in South Africa — also hosted his traditional marriage ceremonies at the lavish residence, which is fitted with, among other niceties, a helipad, a “fire” pool, an amphitheatre and a spaza shop for his elder wife — all paid for by taxpayers’ money.
The compound is situated on communal land owned by the Ingonyama Trust in northern KwaZulu-Natal “on behalf of the state for the benefit, material welfare and social well-being of the Zulu nation”, according to the trust’s website.
The trust is currently in charge of 2,8 million hectares of land throughout the province.
Many in South Africa believe this explains the reluctance by Zuma’s ministers, most of who come from KwaZulu-Natal and still regard the king as the highest authority, to reprimand or condemn King Zwelithini.
Recently SA Home Affairs minister Malusi Gigaba, who is part of the three ministers Zuma deployed to KZN as part of the initial reaction to the xenophobic attacks, was summoned to the king’s palace after he called on leaders — including traditional leaders — to guard against making inflammatory statement that would further fuel attacks on foreigners.
The trust owns most of KZN province including parts of the port city of Durban, and has just launched a massive multibillion-rand land claim. The land, which covers at least four provinces, was under control of the Zulus in 1838, and King Goodwill Zwelithini is the sole trustee.
“That is the ANC’s political base. They need Zulu votes. More importantly, the land where Nkandla is built belongs to Ingonyama Trust owned by the King, so Zuma still needs his home,” a South African source said.
According to the Ingonyama website: “Ingonyama Trust Board is an entity responsible for administration of Ingonyama Trust land which is about 2,8 million hectares in extent spread throughout the province of KwaZulu- Natal in the republic of South Africa.
“His Majesty the King is the sole trustee. The Amendment Act provided among other things the establishment of Ingonyama Trust Board to administer the affairs of the Trust and the Trust land.
“Ingonyama Trust prides itself with the commitment of being the largest property owner in the province of KwaZulu-Natal,” reads the website.
Even mining conglomerates seeking to extract minerals on the land have to first seek authority from the Ingonyama board before mining tenure rights applications can be processed, according to the website.
“It is a requirement of the Ingonyama Trust legislation that the formal consent of the relevant Traditional Council be obtained before a mining tenure rights application can be processed,” the website boldly states.
Despite there being an audio recording of his speech, Zwelithini insists he was misquoted.
In an attempt to clear his name, Zwelithini organised a meeting with his tribesman-called Imbizo, where he insisted he was misquoted.
Zuma then made an address to Parliament and decried the attacks, although analysts believe he is not doing enough to stem the violence and bring culprits to book. Not once in his address did Zuma mention the king, nor did he make any reference to the king’s inciting remarks.
In the address, Zuma however condemned the violence, which we described as “shocking and unacceptable”.
“No amount of frustration or anger can ever justify attacks on foreign nationals and looting of their shops. We condemn the violence in the strongest possible terms. The attacks violate all the values that SA embodies, especially respect for human life, human rights and dignity. Our country stands firmly against violence and xenophobia,” he said.
The opposition not only believe that Zuma failed to control the situation which is nearing a crisis level in his country, but also that he was unable to control even his family in this regard. His eldest son Edward also joined Zwelithini’s fray and called on all migrants — documented or not — to leave.
Opposition leader Julius Malema accused Zuma of failing to reprimand his own son, Edward after his utterances.
“Your own son continues to say people must be killed, you stand up here and you do not say anything,” Malema said during a parliamentary session.
“How can you rule the country when you cannot even rule your own family? Your son is a typical example of a family member you cannot whip into line.”
In another address at a Freedom Day rally at Union Buildings in Pretoria this week, Zuma chose to share the blame with other African governments, saying they contributed to the problem through the influx of their citizens into South Africa.
“Our brother countries contribute to this. Why are their citizens not in their countries? It is not useful to criticise South Africa as if we mushroom these foreign nationals and then ill-treat them. Some [immigrants] said if you raise your voice in country X you disappear,” Zuma said.
“Everybody criticises South Africa as if we have manufactured the problem. Even if people who are xenophobic are a minority, but what prompts these refugees to be in South Africa? It’s a matter we cannot shy away from discussing.”
Asked why Zuma never chided Zwelithini for allegedly fuelling the violence, South African Communications minister Faith Muthambi became emotional and denied that Zuma was afraid of hurting the king.
“Who told you that? My friend, the king was misquoted. Im afraid you will not get what you are looking for,” she said, seething with anger at the Zimbabwean/South African border in Beitbridge just over a week ago.