‘Zuluness’ pits ANC against king in what could be a bruising battle
The ANC admits it will have to meet with Zwelithini to ease tensions amid ongoing fights over ‘his’ land
King Goodwill Zwelithini’s thinly veiled call for the secession of KwaZulu-Natal could leave the ANC divided – with “Zuluness” the reason for the chasm.
The monarch finds himself backed into a corner with moves by the state – essentially the ANC – to dissolve the Ingonyama Trust and, with it, his absolute authority.
In November last year, former president Kgalema Motlanthe, as chair of a high-level panel on key legislation, contributed to a report that recommended that the Ingonyama Trust Act be repealed or amended, and that the trust be dissolved. The panel found that the trust’s current practices were inconsistent with the government’s land policy, and did not secure land tenure for residents.
At a land imbizo called by the king on Wednesday, Zwelithini vowed to rebuff any attempts to claim his land. Under current legislation, he is the sole beneficiary of the Ingonyana Trust.
Political analyst Jabulani Sithole said that the threat to the Ingonyama Trust and the tribal authority of the monarch had brought to the fore issues of ethnicity, which could end up hurting the ruling party at the polls.
“What is quite worrying is that we may see the revival of Zulu ethnicity in this region and if you look at attendance of ANC personnel at the imbizo [this] may cut across political lines.
“There is a ‘Zuluness’ coming forward and that is what we are seeing. This may close down the political space in KZN,” he added.The cracks in a unified ANC over the Ingonyama Trust issue have begun to show, with Mkhonto weSizwe mouthpiece Carl Niehaus breaking party ranks and issuing a public apology to Zwelithini on behalf of the ANC at the land imbizo, held in Ulundi in northern KZN.
While both ANC NEC member and Police Minister Bheki Cele and KZN premier Willies Mchunu were present at the imbizo, neither spoke at the event.
Niehaus’s apology was met rapturous applause and laughter from the 4,000-strong crowd, which included ambutho and indunas.
It was a matter of hours, however, before Niehaus was reined in by ANC elections head Fikile Mbalula, who said the MKMVA veteran had spoken out of turn.
But Mbalula admitted that there was an urgent need for the top leaders of the ANC to meet with the king to dispel the notion that the party was anti-Zulu.“The ANC has got no view to take any land in the hands of the Zulu nation; the ANC has never formulated a view. We will engage with the king to articulate this and make the position of the ANC very clear. The ANC president will lead that process‚” he said in a statement on Thursday.
Sithole echoed this call, saying that if the ANC wanted to avert disaster it would need to urgently appease the king.
“If they don’t the ANC will find it difficult to campaign for the elections next year because increasingly the party is being portrayed as non-Zulu, which is the same thing that happened in the early 90s.
“They could attempt to secede all together unless there is an intervention of the ANC’s national leadership,” Sithole said.
During his address to the amabutho, Zwelithini had alluded to his intention to hit the ANC where it hurt the most – at the polls.
“One of the decisions you need to make is that how much longer will you allow yourselves to be bullied by people who ask you to vote but don’t like you, they only like your vote.
“Unfortunately for our enemies, the Zulus aren’t going anywhere; we will always be here. Your land is not is going anywhere for as long as I live,” he said.