The king is out of order

2015-04-19 15:00

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Zulu king Goodwill Zwelithini is out of order when he rages and points fingers at the media, accusing it of twisting his words when he said foreigners must leave South Africa and go back to their countries.

The king must accept that his speech was reckless, full of xenophobic innuendo and unbecoming for a leader of his stature.

South Africa is home to many foreigners who add value to the functioning of its democracy and contribute immensely to the economy. His speech painted all foreigners with the same bad brush.

It is true that there are very bad foreign criminals in the country, but that does not warrant a prejudicial response to the problem, given the history and delicate atmosphere of spontaneous xenophobic attacks in the country.

A leader like King Zwelithini must always carefully count his words and measure what effects they will have if misinterpreted.

The onus is on the leader to be wise with his words and not on the public to figure out what he is trying to say.

In the 1990s, when the IFP and the ANC were at each other’s throats and killing each other over Mangosuthu Buthelezi’s selfish dream of a KwaZulu-Natal federal government, King Zwelithini was silent and never seriously condemned the cultural war that erupted.

He bought into Buthelezi’s demands of wanting to keep KwaZulu-Natal as his own in the new democratic dispensation.

The king talked out of both sides of his mouth, the way he is doing now, when he was pressured into denouncing the violence that killed more than 20?000 people, mostly in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

Kings are not elected; they are born and imposed on a nation, even if they are disingenuous or plainly lack wisdom.

It is imperative that they surround themselves with advisers who will scrutinise and sanitise their speeches and their actions to avoid any dangerous misinterpretations.

Don Shongwe

Northcliff, Johannesburg

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