Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema says his party believes traditional leaders are the custodians of the land. He was speaking after paying his respects at the late King Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu’s KwaKhethomthandayo palace in Nongoma in northern KwaZulu-Natal.

Malema says raising the land issue, including communal land that falls under the Ingonyama Trust in KwaZulu-Natal, does not mean they had qualms with the King and the institution of traditional leadership.

“It a huge blow indeed, we had a huge debate with his majesty about the land, and we had a very interesting engagement on issues of the land. We have always emphasised in the EFF that the custodians of the land are the Kings and we need to work with them to make sure that we redistribute the land. It must not only be given to males but must also be given to females – an idea that his majesty cherished and accepted that we have moved from an era where they could be men and women, we have to be one nation.”

Malema says that the late King’s successor must continue to engage on the land issue: 

A man of peace 

African National Congress (ANC) Secretary-General Ace Magashule, who also visited the palace, has urged the AmaZulu royal family to remain united during this trying time.

Magashule was accompanied by the president of the ANC Women’s League Bathabile Dlamini and former KwaZulu-Natal Premier Willies Mchunu.

Magashule has described King Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu as a person who always preached peace.

“The King wanted a united ANC. The King wanted to see peace and stability in KZN, in South Africa, and in the continent. The King was a development activist; the King wanted us to unite. Our message to the royal family is that if we are united as the royal family, we are stronger, and we would like to pay our last respect.”

The arrival of the ANC delegation in Nongoma: 

Locals mourn the King 

The passing on of the AmaZulu King has hit those who are his neighbours in the Nongoma area hard, some of whom even grew up with him.

There is a hive of activity as various people from all walks of life are getting ready for the interment of the King’s remains at one of the palaces, which is expected to take place in the early hours of Thursday morning.

An induna of the Osuthu tribal council, Yekayena Mhlongo, shared his memories of the AmaZulu monarch which goes back to when they were at school together. He says the King played soccer and had scored a number of goals as a local footballer. Mhlongo praised the King for loving his subjects.

“When he took over he revived some ceremonies like the Reed Dance and Umkhosi Woswela. He referenced to people as my fathers, people which showed respect. He loved education. He was worried about young people who are using drugs and alcohol. He wanted young people to prioritise education.”

Mhlongo added that the AmaZulu monarch will be remembered for being outspoken and firm.

“He was able to help us resolve some issues in the community. We used to tell people that if they disrespect us as izinduna we would send them to the King and they will toe the line. Once you are that individual that he will be sent to the Kwakhetha, Ubuntu will come back because people knew that the King is a straight talker.”

Prince S’boniso Zulu of the oQathaqatheni royal house says they will remember the King’s contribution to youth development.

“We are very saddened by the passing of His Majesty the King, our King has played a big role in making sure that this community is taken good care of and we are very happy that we will remember his Majesty for his good work that he has done for all of us. But in his speeches we will remember him very well that he once said that, education is very important and he would even be one of the people when there are awards in the education sector, he will always be there, avail himself. He has emphasised that if you do not go to school then it means that his community would not progress in a way that he wished.”

The locals have adhered to the call to mourn the AmaZulu King at their homes. However, a handful of amabutho will be part of the private ukutshalwa or interment ceremony.