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President Zuma’s son Edward is xenophobic and racist. Like the disgarceful Zulu King Zwelithini he supports, whose reckless utterances sparked the attacks on foreginers, Edward continues Cecil Rhodes’ odious legacy of dividing Africans.

For two weeks, I have been sitting back and watching one of our country’s most prominent children. What impact does raising one of more than 20 kids, many born before 1994, in exile, have on their morality? It is quite overwhelming to see the grown son of the most powerful man in South Africa act like a child that grew up in a home without discipline or education.

Today, we can say that Edward Zuma is xenophobic, even though he himself was born in Swaziland. And he is racist even though he was raised in the non-racial tradition of the African National Congress.

This is a very dangerous condition for the country; yet his father is condoning such behaviour, not even rising to the bait of Julius Malema in Parliament, who said on April 17, “Your own son continues to say these people must be killed...Your son is such a typical example of a family member you cannot whip in line.”

The controversy over Edward’s endorsement of King Zwelithini’s xenophobia is well known. At the same time, the website News24 published articles in which Edward attacked the writer Max du Preez. We should learn from this dispute.

Edward Zuma is racist because when Du Preez said that “It is high time the king of the Zulu is put in his place, he is not above the law or the Constitution,” this was Zuma’s reply: “He is a bitter old, white man… Max does not have traditional leaders and he needs to be reminded where he comes as an individual. King Goodwill Zwelithini is the king of the Zulus. If you are a Zulu, whether you are in Europe or in America, he is your king and if Max has a problem with that then he must pack himself and throw himself away and maybe then will he find himself.”

Where does Edward Zuma get the authority to decide that we Zulu people should consider Zwelithini our king, and who should and should not be in this country? It must be clear that no one owns this country, and that people who were in the struggle against apartheid cannot be called “bitter” just because they do not like the way Jacob Zuma’s government or King Zwelithini behave.

Du Preez is an “old man,” yes, and he fought racist white Afrikaners with heroism long before Edward was even born.

Du Preez has every right to express his sentiments about the King’s statement, and if Zuma is concerned at the disrespect expressed to the King, has he forgotten what the King said to the nation? “We urge all foreigners to pack their bags and leave.”

Just in case Edward Zuma has forgotten, let me take him back to the creation of this land. God created the heaven and earth for everyone as the image of him. When God created this land he gave us power of moving anywhere we want to go. Those powers were practiced by King Shaka and King Mzilikazi, and after they fought, Mzilikazi took many of our Khumalo people to Mozambique, Gauteng, and then Botswana, Zambia and finally back south to western Zimbabwe in the 1820s and 1830s.

These names meant nothing then. It was in Berlin in 1885 that the borders were carved out by white colonialists. Cecil John Rhodes made these borders barriers to our people then. That same poisonous mentality of dividing Black people is what King Zwelithini and Edward Zuma suffer from today

Edward Zuma, you need to understand that our Nguni people crossed many borders over the years. Yes, about 11 million of us are Zulu people living in South Africa, and 9 million are Xhosas. But another 2.3 million are Swazis, and there are about the same number of Ndebele people. Then there are an additional 2 million Ngoni people in Mozambique, Zambia, Malawi and Tanzania. All of us come from the same roots. Cecil Rhodes put up the walls, which you want to maintain at the cost of terrorising so many of our people.

As a Zulu woman, I see no disrespect in the sentiments of Du Preez, but I feel humiliation from the King’s statement. If he is my King, I am ashamed to consider myself a Zulu.

Du Preez was right when he said: “South Africans should not simply sweep Zwelithini’s reckless statements on foreign nationals, the most obvious trigger of the latest wave of xenophobic attacks, under the carpet. Any influential public figure guilty of such provocative, irresponsible utterances should be forced to face the consequences of his actions.”

Nigerians have even referred this case to the International Criminal Court, who have agreed to look into it. We must not turn a blind eye, Edward Zuma, and I will lend my own support to anyone condemning the King’s statement.

Du Preez does not owe anyone any apology. The only person who owes the African continent an apology is the King himself, for his words have left many dead and thousands homeless. Thousands are returning to their Nguni homes thinking about this Zulu king, and thousands more are protesting at South African High Commissions and businesses in all these countries.

Du Preez does not disrespect any culture when he criticises xenophobia. Du Preez is right: the King must not be above the law. Innocent people get arrested when they protest for better service delivery under the charge, “inciting violence.” This is what the King did, because his words led to murders, assaults and lootings. But so far, no charges have been laid against him.

If South African law was just, the King should be behind bars by now, facing charges of incitement to violence. But because he is bigger than the law he still walks free.

I am saddened, because even the President of this country has had to face charges in court. Even President Nelson Mandela faced a judge when a racist white rugby administrator charged him in 1998. Why are prosecutors and the Human Rights Commission so slow to act against this King?

Edward Zuma asked about Du Preez: “Does he share the same sentiments about Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II?” This is also sad because it is a reflection of Edward’s poor quality education when it comes to our country’s ethnicities.

But even if Du Preez was not an Afrikaner, we should not shift the focus of the crisis of South Africa to Britain’s outdated monarchy. The British are not the ones who attacked our fellow Africans in April. Let us as South Africans accept criticism where it is needed, and grow with responsibility.

This habit of shifting blame is growing in this country which is why we keep making the same mistakes all over again, because we are too good at blaming others for our mistakes. While Edward Zuma questions Queen Elizabeth, did he also question his father Jacob about how long South Africa will be a puppet of foreign capital?

Maybe it about time we started questioning who shapes our policies of neoliberalism, which put 54% of our people below the poverty line. It’s not Queen Elizabeth this time, though in the past it might have been her ancestors. These days it is President Zuma’s failure to create jobs, build houses and redistribute the wealth of our country, because he follows the rules of global capital.

I wish to correct Edward Zuma when he says, “Our king is not living on crumbs. He is here because we support him”. Not all of us support the king, whose household budget was far higher than any other traditional leader last year: R64 million. Also last year, he had a R4 million party when he wed a 28-year-old Swazi woman (his sixth wife), and he spent R10 000 on his birthday cake. He has 27 children, who are given the finest luxuries.

Yet we say we live in a democratic country. For a king who has so many taxpayer gifts, that xenophobic attitude did so much damage that it is time to ask whether Zwelithini should not just go to trial, but also have his budget cut as punishment. He is an expensive man, in many ways.

This is also the time to open up discussions that will unite us as one Africa. It is not the time to play with verbal fire about alleged foreign drug dealers – not when you, Edward Zuma, were charged last year with illegally importing tobacco.

What has brought us to where we are so divided, is the legacy of Cecil John Rhodes. Freedom will only arrive in South Africa when we agree that Rhodes’ Walls Must Fall. We need free movement which will end the nonsensical colonial idea of “illegal immigrants” on our continent.

In West Africa, the Ecowas passport gives all the countries’ peoples that right to ignore colonial boundaries. But in South Africa, the likes of Zwelithini, Edward Zuma and those who support them ignore the lesson that the University of Cape Town students taught us all: Rhodes’ borders should be considered illegal if what they do is produce illegal people, and if a so-called king and a president’s son turn Rhodes’ legacy into a permanent statue dripping with xenophobic blood.

* Bandile Mdlalose is President of the Community Justice Movement and can be reached at [email protected]



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