The royal mistreatment
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.