Editor's note: The controversial Ingonyama Trust was established in 1994, granting the Zulu monarch extensive tracts of land. Mondli Makhanya argues that it might be time for the trust to be disbanded.
"When Cyril Ramaphosa was photographed kneeling in front of King Goodwill Zwelithini in January last year, many were angry and ridiculed him for his apparent subservience.
"Aides to the then newly-elected president of the ANC were quick to try to reverse the perception created by the images.
They claimed that Ramaphosa was showing Zwelithini a photo album of his cattle – a passion that they both share – and he was only in that position to make sure he could properly guide the monarch through the images.
Nobody bought that story."
"The scene was a clear reflection of how the person who was soon to be our president saw himself in relation to the king.
"Ramaphosa is not alone. His craven positioning is one that is shared by most South African politicians, businesspeople and influential folks.
"All the country’s presidents, from Nelson Mandela to Ramaphosa, become chicken-hearted when Zwelithini is around.
"And when he rattles his sabre, they believe he has the capacity to unleash legions on them.
"Like a spoilt child who keeps demanding more attention and shinier toys from his parents, Zwelithini has become very adept at the time-tested tactic of kicking and screaming.
"He uses it to great effect and everyone falls for it.
"The difference, though, is that, unlike a bratty toddler, Zwelithini’s demands are huge.
"They include a massive salary, upkeep for six palaces, as well as endless amounts of money for travel and miscellaneous activities that he dreams up when he has consumed a certain recently-decriminalised agricultural product.
"The king’s latest tantrum is about the Ingonyama Trust, the child of a late-night liaison between the apartheid regime and the government of the erstwhile KwaZulu Bantustan.
"The establishment of the trust in 1994, on the eve of the transition to democracy, transferred virtually all the land in KwaZulu to the custodianship of the king.
"In essence, it entrenched the existence of the Bantustan and denied those living on Ingonyama land the same rights that would be enjoyed by other citizens who would soon be living in a constitutional South Africa.
"In its 25 years of existence, the trust has given the greedy Zwelithini and the wolfish crowd around him the ability to exploit the peasant population in KwaZulu-Natal."
Read the rest at News24.
Mondli Makhanya is editor-in-chief of the City Press.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Briefly.co.za.
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