Minister of Health Dr Zweli Mkhize has paid tribute to the late AmaZulu King, Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu.

The 72-year-old AmaZulu monarch died in a Durban hospital in the early hours of Friday from COVID-19 complications. He had been in hospital for over a month.

Historian Shalo Mbatha reflects on King Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu’s legacy:

Mkhize says the late King was a true ambassador for South Africa.

“His Majesty was a great ambassador for our country, who used the Royal House to facilitate investment in agriculture, education and socioeconomic development. He believed in community self-reliance in fighting poverty and supported government service delivery programmes, particularly the protection of the environment,” the Miniter says.

The legacy of King Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu:

Champion for the poor

Dr Mkhize says King Zwelithini was a champion for the poor, especially in promoting the development of rural areas.

He says the King was held in great regard and loved by his people.

“The King founded Bayede Aids project, which partnered with government to fight stigma and promote abstinence amongst youth. He also initiated the male medical circumcision campaign which has reached almost a million males in the province of KwaZulu- Natal. He was a champion for cultural diversity and a repository of history and traditions of our people.”

Mkhize says King Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu will be missed for his kindness, generosity and his warm, caring and compassionate spirit.

‘Great loss’

Former President Jacob Zuma says the King’s death is a great loss to the AmaZulu nation.

The former President sent a voice note to the royal family, expressing his condolences to them and the Zulu nation.

Zuma was expected to go to the KwaKhethomthandayo royal palace at Nongoma but has since re-scheduled.

Zuma says the King’s role in uplifting the Zulu nation will always be remembered.

“To the subjects of the King, it is a great loss as our King is no more. We are deeply saddened as the King was our father and the father of our nation. We are speechless and the King was everything to all of us. We are in pain as the King was also our wisdom. We send our condolences to the nation, the royal family and the institution of traditional leaders,” the former president says.

The Free State House of Traditional Leaders says the Zulu Monarch will be remembered as a visionary leader who was devoted to his people.

Chairperson of the Free State House of Traditional Leaders, Queen Gao Moroka, says the King will be remembered for being fearless and progressive.

“He was free and we felt at home, he could talk a lot. We spent almost the whole night there until I stood up and said King now I’m going to sleep. He didn’t want us to leave. When we told him that we are living he would say wait, let me give you something. That’s how he was. He could do anything that will make you happy. That was was King Zwelithini to you,” said Queen Moroka, while recounting her visit to the King’s palace three years ago.

Funeral

Earlier, AmaZulu traditional Prime Minister, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, called on people not to come to the funeral of King Zwelithini amid the continued spread of the coronavirus in South Africa.

There are fears a large gathering of people could become a COVID-19 super spreader event.

Buthelezi said King Zwelithini’s body will also not lie in state, as was initially announced, to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Buthelezi also appealed to people rather to watch the funeral and other events on TV.

The royal family are working on funeral preparations.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced that King Zwelithini will receive a Special Official Funeral, Category One. A date for the funeral is yet to be announced. The SABC will carry the event live on its platforms.

Royal family members return to Khethomthandayo palace after fetching the King’s body: