The royal mis­treat­ment

The Star Early Edition - - OPINION & ANALYSIS -

THE ZULU peo­ple will have to foot the bill for Good­will Zwelithini’s 70th birthday party next year – if the king has his way. He an­nounced this at the week­end as he was plied with gifts from well-wish­ers at a birthday party at his Lin­duzulu Palace – just one of the many he has.

There is no doubt he is a fig­ure of rev­er­ence among Zulu South Africans, but the same can­not be said for those who aren’t Zulu. Many feel he is an anachro­nism, a feu­dal throw­back to a by­gone age with lit­tle or no rel­e­vance in to­day’s po­lit­i­cal dis­pen­sa­tion.

Yet it is iron­i­cally our in­ter­na­tion­ally lauded con­sti­tu­tion that al­lows for th­ese con­tra­dic­tions and com­pro­mises in its bid to weld tra­di­tion with best mod­ern prac­tice, even when some of the tra­di­tions fly in the face of moder­nity, such as the con­tin­ued dis­crim­i­na­tion against women or the lack of pri­vate land own­er­ship in tribal ar­eas.

There are many too who be­lieve the Zulu king should be treated no dif­fer­ently from our other kings and para­mount chiefs, all hered­i­tary rulers and all paid for by the Trea­sury. Zwelithini be­lieves dif­fer­ently. He feels ter­ri­bly hard done by, by the R50 mil­lion awarded to him each year from the state, de­spite his own ex­ten­sive per­sonal wealth and land hold­ing.

He is dis­parag­ing about the con­sti­tu­tion and the gov­ern­ment, es­pe­cially in its award­ing of child grants to fam­i­lies who would other­wise be des­ti­tute.

Yet he of­fers no prac­ti­cal so­lu­tion to re­cip­i­ents, es­pe­cially those who might be both re­cip­i­ents and his sub­jects.

He will, how­ever, pray for them – as God speaks through him to the na­tion. Of course his peo­ple will have to do­nate money to the church, which he will build in Non­goma.

We are grate­ful Zwelithini ad­dressed his sub­jects. Had he cast his net wider – as he has tried to do in the past – would have been the least of his wor­ries.

As it is, given the prob­lems be­set­ting his king­dom, we won­der whether he is re­trac­ing the steps once made fa­mous by Marie An­toinette.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.