"I firmly believe that the rampant spread of HIV/Aids has been slowed by the reintroduction of the reed dance," IFP leader Buthelezi said in a speech prepared for delivery.
He was speaking at King Goodwill Zwelithini's palace where maidens had gathered for the annual reed dance.
Buthelezi said encouraging young people to delay sexual relations until marriage was a tradition which helped to fight the disease.
"Our forbearers never faced the challenge of HIV/Aids but they understood the need to celebrate purity," he said. "It was necessary for the similar standards to be expected from young men."
"We are abolishing the double standard that maidens must be pure, but men must be experienced… that culture breeds shame and disunity."
"In contrast, the ceremony performed here today expresses unity and pride," Buthelezi said. – Sapa