The ANC has proposed saving money by abolishing some of the royal pomp at the opening ceremony of the KwaZulu-Natal legislature, sparking outrage from the IFP.
The proposals, tabled before the legislature’s rules committee, would scrap the police guard of honour at which the Zulu king takes the salute and compress the two-day opening proceedings into one day. This would end the tradition of an entire day being devoted to the opening of the legislature by the king.
The president of the IFP, Velenkosini Hlabisa, accused the ANC of taking advantage of the death of King Goodwill Zwelithini to try to “downgrade and disrespect” his heir, Prince Misuzulu kaZwelithini.
The ANC had long been accused of giving the late King Zwelithini preferential treatment because of his influence over his subjects. None of SA’s other eight provincial legislatures sets aside a day for an official opening by a traditional leader.
The ANC proposals appear to be an initial move to clip the wings of the Zulu monarchy after the death of King Zwelithini in March. There has been speculation that the party wants to cut the provincial government’s spending on the king and his palaces, now running at more than R70m a year.
The IFP has vowed to oppose the ANC proposals to reduce the role of the Zulu monarch in the legislature’s opening ceremony when they come up for debate.
The ANC wants a one-day opening ceremony at which both the monarch and the premier will address the legislature.
The governing party has also submitted a proposal that would put an end to the police guard of honour for the Zulu king – on the grounds that it is unconstitutional. “Rule 9(2) providing for a salute to the king is unconstitutional, as per terms of section 125 of the constitution the executive authority of the province vests in the premier alone,” the proposal reads.
It says that police standing orders require police officers to salute “the president as well as the chief justice, deputy president and former president, cabinet ministers, speaker of parliament, deputy minister, premier of a province and judge of the high court” – but not the Zulu king.
KwaZulu-Natal legislature ANC chief whip Super Zuma confirmed that the party had proposed the changes. However, referring to the plan to compress the opening ceremonies into one day, he said: “Yes, that was proposed but it was withdrawn as it is an administrative matter.”
The ANC cited the extra costs of the two-day opening ceremony to justify the proposed change
The Sunday Times understands that the ANC cited the extra costs of the two-day opening ceremony to justify the proposed change. Last year the event cost R2.5m.
Asked why the ANC wanted to scrap the guard of honour now, when it has always been unconstitutional, Zuma said: “The ANC was not aware that saluting the king is unconstitutional.”
The ANC proposal reads: “It must also be noted that currently we don’t have a provincial constitution that recognises the role of the monarch. Based on the above it does appear that the constitution, read with the South African Police Service national orders, indicates that it must be the premier that takes the salute at the opening of the legislature.”
Though Hlabisa conceded that the guard of honour for the king was unconstitutional, he said it had become a harmless norm and a show of respect and recognition.
“When the ANC decides now to make a U-turn since it’s a new king, it tells you they have been paying lip service for all these years to the late king,” he said.
“When the ANC says the salute to the king is unconstitutional and therefore must be stopped, that is a clear demonstration of not wanting to support and recognise the Zulu monarchy.”
Hlabisa noted that the ANC’s concern about the constitutionality of the king taking the salute had arisen only recently.The king has spoken: The Zulu royal family and nation will reuniteThe new Zulu king has spoken out, saying the royal family and the Zulu nation will reunite.NEWS3 months ago
“All these years when this was done there has never been a criminal or civil case or any complaint from anyone in SA, even presidents, that the KwaZulu-Natal legislature is doing something unconstitutional.”
He said the ANC was not only trying to scrap gestures of respect to the monarchy “immediately after the departure of King Goodwill Zwelithini”, but was also dragging its feet in having the new king formally crowned, “as they claim there are other contenders to the throne”.
The Zulu throne has remained empty after President Cyril Ramaphosa’s decision to wait for the courts to rule in a succession dispute, but Prince Misuzulu has been performing the duties of king.
Royal House spokesperson Prince Thulani Zulu did not respond to requests for comment by the time of going to press.