The almighty Imbizo called by the Zulu king was supposed to allay fears and to make peace or at the very least, apologize for the part he played in aggravating xenophobic attacks against foreigners, rather he called to pass on the blame of his actions to a third party that is best described as none-existent.
At the Imbizo, the king blamed third force and the media for the violence thereby successfully extricating himself from the shares of blames flying around. This has been described as an insensitive act once again. This is because most people went with the very high expectation that at the very least, the king will apologize for the things he had previously said and not to come and make matters worse by denying his words once again or by passing the blame on to someone or something else.
As it stands now, people are looking for who to blame for the acts that have left thousands destitute, homeless and depending on charity. His speech has been described as an epic failure at the peace making process.
At the Imbizo on Monday, King Zwelithini kept on insisting that “It was not true”, and that his statements were blown out of proportions by the media. He said:
“The many people who were listening to me have not gone and killed anybody. Most things said about me are not true. If it was true I said people must kill each other, the whole country would be reduced to ashes,”
He went on to welcome the investigation by the Human Rights Commission against him saying:
“I would like the Human Rights Commission to be given enough time to do its investigation. I understand its intervention. It must do a fact-finding [mission]. The commission must also check the role played by the media. What I see in newspapers is that people are fed [lies]. I still challenge people to come with the full speech I made. It is important to know how this started,”
After this, he went on to condemn the various attacks and to say it was wrong for south Africans to kill their fellow African brothers.
“I did not call the Imbizo for people who are at the center of the xenophobic violence, but against those who are doing this in the Zulu name. The government agrees with me that there is a third force and we need to fight against it. The people are using Zulu and its monarch.
“The people who are doing this have one thing in mind … they want Africans to fight each other. No one should kill. Lets show them we know how to behave. When we see people violate the rule of law, lets act against those. We are a nation that likes peace. Some people think they are judges. Peace must be first and foremost,” said Zwelithini.
Despite this voracious speech, Political commentators Nomboniso Gasa and Shadrack Gutto said Zwelithini has missed the opportunity to own up to his statements and apologize to the nation. Gasa said “Its important that he called for calm and peace [during his address on Monday]. But that does not go far enough. People would have liked the king to have said I humble myself on what I said. As long as he does not take responsibility, [the matter would not be resolved],” Gutto said he should have just used the opportunity to apologize and plead with South Africans to desist from violence rather than make excuses.
King Zwelithini’s seemed to have achieved more success in enraging people rather than calming already frayed nerves, mostly because while he was preaching peace, members of the his official escort could be heard chanting that foreigners should leave South Africa.
Max du Preez of News24 wrote:
“Fewer than two out of 10 South Africans see King Goodwill Zwelithini as their king. And yet we taxpayers pay him about R60m per year to keep his bloated household going and he behaves as if he really is the national monarch who is above the law and our constitution. 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.”
At the end of the Imbizo, King Zwelithini has enraged people more and has succeeded in evading the wrath of the law by shifting the blame of the attacks he caused to a third party. Nobody whoever they are, should be above the law, people should be made to pay for their sins whether they are royalty or not.