What gifts do you buy the Zulu monarch on his birthday? After all‚ King Goodwill Zwelithini is a man who – thanks to his more than R50-million annual budget – has it all.
Apparently‚ EFF commander-in-chief Julius Malema has the answer: you buy him four pregnant cows and a bull. And it was a gift a beaming King Zwelithini could hardly conceal his delight at.
Excitement was the word – and mood – of the day at King Zwelithini’s Linduzulu Royal Palace in Nongoma‚ northern KZN‚ on Thursday when Malema and his EFF entourage paid homage to the Zulu monarch on his birthday.
But it was two birthdays in one‚ really‚ as the EFF spends the week in the province ahead of its fourth birthday party on Saturday.
Their pre-party meanderings in the province coincided with King Zwelithini’s 69th birthday‚ and it was a scheduling coincidence Malema said he could not let go by.
“We are here to celebrate our fourth anniversary and we were told that the king would be celebrating his birthday today‚ and we thought it was going to be important for us to actually come here on this important day in his life‚” Malema said after a private meeting with King Zwelithini on Thursday. “We are here to wish him many more years and we are happy that we were welcomed. We feel at home already.”
Malema and his top six’s visit even managed to upstage KZN provincial MECs Sibongiseni Dhlomo and Belinda Scott‚ of health and finance respectively‚ in getting the king’s attention. The EFF entourage was locked up for an hour inside the palace while curious media waited outside with security personnel.
Malema who had come in a black helicopter said they were excited to meet the king.
“We received good counsel from His Majesty as a father and an elder. We leave here educated because he possesses a lot of experience‚” said Malema.
Without giving much detail of whether the king chastised them on the perceived disrespect often displayed by him and his members in the National Assembly‚ Malema said the king understood the role of the opposition parties and they were happy with the engagement they had.
“All of us our role is to build South Africa and we can only do that by working with each other. We also recognise the role of traditional leadership and we respect it‚” said Malema.
King Zwelithini was equally elated.
“I was very touched by this visit by Mr Malema and his executive. I hope all that we have discussed bear fruit of peace‚” he said. “I do not think anyone can blame him for this visit as he came to pay an honour and his respect. I always honour and respect every visit and it’s not the first time that political parties have visited me.”
Malema and team – which included deputy Floyd Shivambu‚ chair Dali Mpofu‚ secretary-general Godrich Garden‚ deputy secretary-general Hlengiwe Hlophe and treasurer-general Leigh-Ann Mathys – later sat at the same table with King Zwelithni under gazebos where a function was held.
Meanwhile‚ after being singled out by King Zwelithini in February during the opening of legislature for not visiting the king‚ Scott also came and presented the king with a sheep.
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