A remark made by Zulu King Misuzulu KaZwelithini at the 144th commemoration of the battle of Isandlwana, which was seen as covering Cyril Ramaphosa’s administration mistakes, prompted former President Jacob Zuma to respond quickly on Saturday.
Zuma’s rapid reaction elicited murmurs from Zulu regiments, who began chanting “uyayivubela,” a historic Zulu battle cry about someone launching a war.
During his speech, King Misuzulu stated that people should be patient of Ramaphosa because running a country is not as easy as some would have people believe. He stated that continual criticism was counterproductive and that leaders should be respected.
“He (Ramaphosa) has been chosen by God to be in the seat of the presidency.
“God trusts the President (Ramaphosa) and his leadership of us
“Therefore I am saying we must not criticise, we must not point fingers and say look at him and what he is doing.
“The job he is doing is not an easy one,” he stated in Zulu.
In another startling remark, the King stated that religion and politics were extremely dividing among people.
“First, I am not trying to be controversial, but religion divides a nation and politics do divide a nation.
“And many other issues and what I have just counted, I plead with you Zulu people not to allow these things to disrupt our way of life,” he told the over 10 000 people that had gathered at the mountain of Isandlwana to remember the historic victory of the Zulu army against the British on January 22, 1879.
Later, when calling for an end to the killing of albinos, the King stated that the Zulu nation came before politics and religion.
After the King had finished his Isandlwana speech, then came the former president, Jacob Zuma. According to the official itinerary, Zuma was not scheduled to speak, and royal protocol states that no one should speak after the King.
It is unclear how Zuma obtained the opportunity outside of the official programme, which was occasionally overruled amid allegations that the province government (under the ANC) played politics by attempting to prevent the local mayor of Nquthu (under the IFP) from speaking.
In response to the king’s comments on Ramaphosa, Zuma appeared to argue that if leaders want to be respected by the people they lead, they must respect them as well.
He then mentioned religion and politics as divisive forces, stating he wished he could address this personally with the king.
I wish to discuss the king’s comment on the issue of politics (being a divisive factor), whether is it politics that is wrong or it is people that misuse it, just like the issue of religion,” Zuma stated.
Throughout his address, there were whispers among Zulu battalions wondering why Zuma was speaking after the King, weakening his authority. As Zuma finished his remarks, a regiment thought to be a member of the royal family led the other regiments in chanting “uyayivubela.” That caused Inkosi Mangosuthu Buthelezi to reprimand the troops and call for order, which was quickly restored.