Goodwill Zwelithini , king of the Zulus , died this Friday at the age of 72 after spending several weeks hospitalized for complications related to his diabetes , as reported by sources close to the monarch. The king spent several weeks in the South African region of KwaZulu-Natal , in the east of the country, due to the alarming glucose level it showed.
“Tragically, when he was hospitalized, his majesty’s health worsened and he died in the morning ” on Friday, the same sources have explained in a statement. The Zulu leader had had a comfortable life: with several palaces , with six wives and some thirty descendants. In addition, he enjoyed an annual income paid by the State of about 3.4 million euros .
Zwelithini had occupied the throne of the Zulus since 1971, in the midst of ” apartheid “, when a strong oppression was exerted on the black population in the African country. Cyril Ramaphosa , president of the country, said that the leader, born in the city of Nongoma, would be remembered as a “visionary” for his broad contribution to the identity and unity of the Zulu people .
Not only that, the president insisted on its importance for the economic development of the country and, especially, of the KwaZulu-Natal region, where the majority of Zulu reside.
His figure generated a lot of tension in 1994 , the year of the first democratic elections in the country , especially to the party led by Nelson Mandela , the African National Congress (ANC, for its acronym in English), when he summoned thousands of men armed with sticks. in Johannesburg.
Most of them were followers of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), the Zulu nationalist party. The scene ended with a shooting in front of the ANC headquarters in which 42 people were killed and 250 injured.
The Zulu king accompanies President Nelson Mandela in 1995.
A controversial character
With a population of between 10 and 12 million people , the Zulu are the largest ethnic group in South Africa, a country of 52 million people. The king did not have a real power in the country, but he did have an important capacity to influence his ethnic group.
The South African Constitution of 1996 recognizes the role of traditional leaders and although they lack an executive role, they do have a fundamental ceremonial role , in addition to having an influential social and political position.
Zwelithini, who controlled some 2.8 million hectares in the country, has been a cornerstone in recent years for debates such as the reform of land ownership , in which his interests were contrary to those of the state, as well as the waves of xenophobic violence that South Africa has experienced in its most recent history.
African National Congress President Jacob Zuma joins Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini along with thousands of others in honoring the birth of the Zulu warrior and founder of the Zulu nation in 2008
In recent years, the king has been singled out for his xenophobic remarks , blaming African migrants for causing “increased lawlessness in the country” and calling them ” ants ” and ” lice .” He has also been accused of fueling a wave of racist attacks that left seven dead and thousands displaced.
He also showed a homophobic character and had stated on several occasions that homosexuality “was not acceptable.” Similarly, he supported corporal punishment in schools and re-established the Umhlanga in 1980, “Unclean” women are forbidden – they dance around the royal residence and cut reeds.