South Africa’s Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini, who is revered by over 12.5 million South Africans, addressed the newly elected top six members of the country’s ruling party, the African National Congress last week.
In his speech, the King emphasized to ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa the importance of South Africa’s relationship with Israel, at his “Osuthu Palace” in KwaNongoma, KwaZulu Natal.
“There are two offices [clinics] that have been built by Jewish organisations [The South African Zionist Federation and South African Friends of Israel] in this Kingdom,”he said. “They came here because I requested them to come. They built these offices [clinics] the day I announced circumcision on the in December 2009.”
“Mr. President, there are things that I don’t like talking about much, which is to interfere in things we know nothing about,” King Zwelithini said referring to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “I am pleading that we should not find ourselves involved in wars that we know nothing of, because we will find that the people that we involve ourselves with, in their wars, are the same people that work in ways that can help us with our drought issues, which we are still facing and hasn’t ended because our dams are still not full. They can change that and make our dams our source of life.”
Referring to the serious drought in Cape Town and how Israeli technology could make a huge difference, the king said the ANC’s top six: “You see that it didn’t have many visitors over the [summer] holidays? What is the cause of that? There are countries that are skilled, that can make the sea water to be the life in our country. So I plead with you, to please focus more on the issue of drought, because we hope to see the economy increase, and we would really appreciate it.”
In a statement the South African Zionist Federation (SAZF) and South African Friends of Israel said that they had “partnered with His Majesty in the building of the two clinics referred to [in his speech]. One is located in Mathubathuba and one in Emondlo. Both of these clinics focus on HIV related health services and education for the surrounding communities.”
“The South African Zionist Federation which represents the overwhelming majority of South African Jewry implores the ANC to take note of the call of the Zulu King, who represents a major constituency of the ANC,” said SAZF chairman Ben Swartz.
In addition, Nkosi Bishop Phakama Shembe, a key leader of the Shembe Church (The Nazareth Baptist Church), which represents a major component of the Zulu nation, recently echoed these sentiments. “For South Africa to prosper, we firmly believe that it must stand in support of Israel, not against it…Today, unfortunately, there are other voices within our society that are demanding the opposite,” he said in reference to the ANC’s resolution to downgrade the South African Embassy in Israel during its conference in December. “The Shembe Church, no less than right-thinking people around the world, wholeheartedly supports the initiatives aimed at achieving peace between Israel and its neighbours…Our duty as South Africans is not to choose the path of boycott and disengagement, but to assist in whatever way we can.”
Following these remarks, Swartz said that “it’s clear that a very substantial number of ANC supporters, and by extension South African citizens, appreciate the importance that the relationship between South Africa and Israel holds.”
“It is this relationship that South Africa should aspire to build upon, for the betterment of the people of South Africa,” Swartz highlighted. “As His Majesty noted, the ANC should not take a radical position on a conflict, but should rather seek to open channels of dialogue and discussion with the aim of ensuring a positive and constructive outcome to the conflict in the Middle East.”