South Africa's Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini.
(photo credit: RAJESH JANTILAL/ AFP)
King Goodwill Zwelithini, who is revered by over 12.5 million members of the Zulu nation, has emphasized to African National Congress president Cyril Ramaphosa the importance of South Africa’s relationship with Israel.
“There are things that I don’t like talking about much, which is to interfere in things we know nothing about,” Zwelithini said during a speech to the ANC leadership last week, 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,” the king said.
Referring to the drought in Cape Town and how Israeli technology could make a huge difference, the king told the ANC’s top six leaders: “You see that it [the city] didn’t have many visitors over the [Southern Hemisphere 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.”
Zwelithini also mentioned the building of two clinics by the South African Zionist Federation and South African Friends of Israel which focus on HIV-related health services and education for the surrounding communities.”
South African Zionist Federation chairman Ben Swartz said, “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.”
Nkosi Bishop Phakama Shembe, a key leader of the Shembe Church (The Nazareth Baptist Church), which represents a major part 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 last month calling to downgrade the status of the South African Embassy in Israel.
“The Shembe Church, no less than right-thinking people around the world, wholeheartedly supports the initiatives aimed at achieving peace between Israel and its neighbors...
Our duty as South Africans is not to choose the path of boycott and disengagement, but to assist in whatever way we can,” he said.
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 said. “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.”