The eThekwini Municipality has come under attack over its removal of a banner with portraits of Zulu kings from the Nicol Square Garage in the Durban CBD.
The banner has been replaced with the metro’s service delivery achievements. It also encourages the public to vote in the upcoming municipal elections.
Former KZN’s DA leader, Zwakele Mncwango, also took to Facebook saying the removal of the Zulu kings’ portraits was an insult to the Zulu nation.
“I understand this is an advertising space but it's also an insult to us as the Zulu nation for [the] ANC to do this while we still mourning the passing of the King (Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu) .
“Elections come and go, but the Zulu kingdom is always there.
“ANC must remove this and apologise unconditionally to the Zulu nation. It hasn’t even been a year since iSilo [King Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu] passed away, but they’re already trying to undermine the Zulu kingdom and its history,” said Mncwango.
Responding to Monday’s outcry on social media, eThekwini issued a statement saying it has noted the mixed views related to a banner.
The municipality said it respected the Zulu royal family and the institution of traditional leadership hence it celebrated Zulu kings through the previous banner and educated the public about Zulu monarchs.
City spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela, said the banner was for advertising purposes and not a monument to Zulu Kings or a statue. He added that by their very nature, advertising banners had a defined lifespan.
“Throughout eThekwini Municipality there are many permanent sites that celebrate the Zulu royal family and Zulu kings. These demonstrate our respect for Zulu kings and for the royal family. These sites are more permanent than an advertising banner,” he said.
Mayisela said the City had a King Shaka International Airport, King Goodwill Zwelithini Stadium, Princess Magogo Stadium, Prince Mshiyeni Hospital, King Dinizulu Statue, Queen Nandi Drive and a busk of King Goodwill Zwelithini at Mitchell Park.
He said the banner of Zulu kings occupied the Nicol Square Garage advertising space for more than a year, which might have caused some members of the public to think that it would be there permanently.
Mayisela said before the kings that space had a banner of the ANC’s former presidents.
“That replacement was in no way interpreted as disrespect to the ruling party (ANC). Similarly, the replacement of Amakhosi with service delivery achievements is not meant to be disrespectful in any way.
“The current banner also has a defined lifespan and will be replaced by something else,” said Mayisela.
He said eThekwini had a responsibility to promote democratic rule though encouraging the public to vote during the elections.
“Part of that process includes highlighting service delivery achievements as that helps to answer the question ‘Why should I vote’, a question often asked by residents who are ambivalent about voting.
“We re-iterate our respect for the royal family and for Zulu kings. We also appeal to the public not to use this banner to score political points.”
He said service delivery was a core mandate of all municipalities, and all the new banner did was demonstrate how far eThekwini Municipality had gone in fulfilling its mandate over the past five years. “The current message also seeks to mobilise the public to go out in their numbers to vote for a political party of their choice,” said Mayisela.