President Cyril Ramaphosa has challenged leaders to pick up King Goodwill Zwelithini KaBhekuzulu’s spear and continue the quest to build a better South Africa.
Delivering the eulogy during a special memorial service for the late Zulu King, held at kwaKhethomthandayo Royal Palace in kwaNongoma on Thursday, President Ramaphosa said that one of the things he really admired about His Majesty was that he had faith in his country and its future.
“He had faith to believe that we, as a people and as a nation, would win the battle for development, progress and social justice. He did believe that we would triumph over poverty, inequality and unemployment.
“He believed that we will triumph against gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF). As we say farewell to Bayede, we must remember our responsibilities as leaders to heal this land,” President Ramaphosa said.
Sharing fond memories, the President recalled how after many years of conflict and turmoil, it was in the course of King Zwelithini’s reign, that the Zulu Kingdom achieved the stability and harmony that had so long eluded it.
“It was during the course of his reign, that his people – alongside all the people of our nation – realised their dream of freedom from the injustices of colonialism and apartheid, and it was during his reign that the decades of dispossession and the wilful destruction of our knowledge and economic systems, culture and governance institutions, came to an end.
“Imbube will be remembered for being the staunchest defender of his people. He not only defended and advanced the interests of the Zulu people but advanced their culture, their customs, their traditions and a deep sense of identity and nationhood.
“He is celebrated across our beloved continent Africa because he valued diversity and respected the cultures of other kingdoms and nations,” President Ramaphosa said.
He preached peace and unity
During the tumultuous period of political transition in the country, King Zwelithini played a significant role in the achievement of democracy.
He will be remembered for his role in bringing peace and stability to KwaZulu-Natal during the difficult times in the country’s history.
“As a leader, he preached peace and unity. He abhorred violence and its consequences. As the country moved towards democracy, he called for an end to political killings, travelling around the country meeting and encouraging people to resort to peaceful means of resolving conflict.
“His Majesty was a man who believed that the pursuit of violence is ethically and morally wrong. His Majesty was one of our most revered traditional leaders,” the President said.
As one of the elders, King Zwelithini’s advice was regularly sought by leaders of different political persuasions, including the President.
“I remember with fondness the long and in-depth conversations I had with him on everything, from rearing cattle, agriculture, leadership, culture, including international matters. Being in his presence was a rare privilege. He always exuded warmth, wisdom and love for the people of South Africa and the entire continent.”
Advocate for better health outcomes
The King was an advocate for better health outcomes among his people, leading from the front in the fight against HIV, AIDS and TB.
He encouraged young people to be safe from sexually transmitted diseases, substance abuse and premature parenthood.
“He founded the Bayede Trust, which has worked to mitigate the impact of HIV and AIDS throughout the province. He encouraged responsible behaviour, especially among young people. He challenged the international community to avail more funding against the AIDS pandemic and the South African government to provide treatment to our people.
“Let it be clearly understood that moral courage was one of his noblest virtues,” President Ramaphosa said.