Editorial: Beware unholy KZN pact

What was Carl Niehaus doing at the land imbizo called by Zulu monarch Goodwill Zwelithini on Wednesday?

Officially, he was there as the spokesperson of the Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans Association, but it seems that Niehaus is these days doing much more than speaking on behalf of MK veterans. Last year, he was the spokesperson for Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s campaign to be president of the ANC, a campaign backed by former president Jacob Zuma. He also seems to be very chummy with the Zuma family, if Thobeka Madiba-Zuma’s Instagram account is anything to go by.

Also speaking at the imbizo was Nkosenhle Shezi, the secretary of the National Funeral Practitioners Association of South Africa, which has been supporting the former president in his legal battles.

These are ominous signs of an alignment of agendas — those of Zwelithini and Zuma.

Given our history, Zwelithini’s address at the imbizo should not be taken lightly — with its talk of secession and thinly veiled threats of violence should anyone disturb the status quo at the Ingonyama Trust, which holds vast tracts of land in KwaZulu-Natal and of which he is the sole trustee.

Remember that the establishment of the trust was the compromise that finally brought the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) into the 1994 elections — ending years of brutal violence in the province.

The compromise was such a late-in-the-day scramble that ballot papers had already been printed without the IFP on them. The KwaZulu-Natal-based party, with Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi as its president, had to be added to the ballots means of a sticker.

Zuma has been widely credited as the person who — from the ANC’s side — brought peace to KwaZulu-Natal, through skilful negotiation with its power brokers and by crisscrossing the province trying to bring warring groups together. But the province is his strongest base and he is also in a corner — facing prosecution and with the taps of money that have paid for delaying his trial being squeezed shut.

About 14 000 people died in political violence in the run-up to the 1994 election, the human rights committee of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is reported to have said. More than 90% of these deaths were in the Natal and PWV (today known as Gauteng) regions at the time. In recent years, political assassinations have again been on the rise in KwaZulu-Natal — signifying that the peace Zuma brokered is a fragile one.

We shudder to think what could happen should two KwaZulu-Natal powerhouses, the king and the former president — both under threat — come together.   

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories

Ingonyama Trust Board moves to retrench staff

More than 50 workers at the Ingonyama Trust Board have been issued section 189 notices

Editorial: ANC, stop hurting our country

The ANC either does not understand the best interests of those it was elected to serve — or it knows and doesn’t care

‘The corrupt must go to jail’

As Gauteng braces itself for its Covid-19 peak, the provincial government says it is knuckling down to deal with ‘shameful’ corruption allegations

Comrade Andrew Mlangeni was the embodiment of service

Kgalema Motlanthe paid tribute to ANC struggle stalwart Andrew Mlangeni, who died on Tuesday, at his 95th birthday celebrations last month

1962, China: The day Mao met Mlangeni

In this edited extract from The Backroom Boy, an autobiography of the late Andrew Mokete Mlangeni by Mandla Mathebula, the ANC struggle stalwart meets Mao Tse-Tung while in military training in China

Editorial: Stop looting Mlangeni’s legacy

Covid-19 has exposed how widespread corruption tore the heart out of our institutions, from parastatals to hospitals and infrastructure projects.

Ingonyama Trust Board moves to retrench staff

More than 50 workers at the Ingonyama Trust Board have been issued section 189 notices

Tito needs the IMF, South Africa doesn’t

The IMF loan is given with false motivation — to provide political cover for entrenched neoliberalism and deep cuts in the public service

No proof of Covid-19 reinfection, yet

Some people report testing positive for Covid-19 after initially having the disease and then testing negative. Scientists are still trying to understand if this means that reinfection is possible

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday