Take a lesson from north Africa, Zulu king tells leaders

2011-02-22 00:00

SOUTH African leaders should heed what has happened to long-serving north African leaders and not stay in power too long.

This was the warning from Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini in a two-hour speech, delivered in IsiZulu in commemoration of International Mother-tongue Day, at the official opening of the KZN Legislature at the Royal Showgrounds in Pietermaritzburg yesterday.

The king said there is much to be learned from ongoing protests in Arab countries, where “people are demonstrating their impatience with leaders who are failing to deliver services”.

“Let us accept that people want to see tangible changes in their lives. As democratically elected leaders, let us learn that our positions are in no way eternal.

“Under a democratic dispensation, positions do not belong to individuals. We take turns so that all our contributions will have an impact.

“Let us learn from these leaders of other countries who met with resistance when they thought they could occupy positions for decades, when they are not traditional leaders whose positions are bestowed upon them by God … What lessons can South Africa learn from the changes that are taking place in north Africa?” the king asked.

Leaders in Tunisia and Egypt were recently toppled by violent mass protests, sparking similar protests in Libya, Bahrain and Yemen and the Middle East.

The king urged political leaders to refrain from using language that incites violence ahead of the local government elections, and urged all political parties to accept the results.

He praised President Jacob Zuma for his state of the nation address, which, he said, “brings hope, especially for the unemployed”, and asked the private sector to help in changing the lives of the people.

While he emphasised the need to reinforce the fight against the spread of HIV and Aids, the king also encouraged his subjects to undergo tests for diseases like prostate cancer, and for women to undergo a pap smear once or twice a year to test for endometrial cancer.

He warned recently circumcised youth to avoid vicious myths that fuel attempts to find out what unprotected sex is like.

“If they do that, they will definitely contract the virus. Therefore I warn against misleading myths. HIV and Aids is real and it kills.”

The king also called for the revival of the controversial Nguni cattle rehabilitation project, which was discontinued after reports that it was benefiting corrupt individuals connected to the government.

Police Commissioner General Bheki Cele was commended for his fight against crime and was urged to intensify the fight against the drug, Whoonga.

The king celebrates his 40th year as head of the Zulu nation.

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