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January 11, 2018 11:28 am

South African Zulu King Invokes Fight Against AIDS, Drought, in Plea to ANC Government to Retain Close Israel Ties

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Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithinii during the unveiling of a memorial to the Battle of Isandlwana, in which a Zulu force clashed with invading British soldiers in 1879. Photo: JN / JDP / Reuters.

The king of South Africa’s Zulu nation has urged the country’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) to retain close ties with Israel, following last month’s vote by the ANC at its national conference to downgrade the South African Embassy in Tel Aviv to a “liaison office.”

King Goodwill Zwelithinii — the constitutionally-recognized monarch of the 12 million Zulus who make up South Africa’s largest ethnic group — told a delegation of the ANC’s senior leadership that he had developed a close relationship with Israel and the South African Jewish community since his 2009 decree introducing medical circumcision for boys in a bid to halt the spread of the AIDS virus.

According to the World Health Organization, there is “compelling evidence that male circumcision reduces the risk of heterosexually acquired HIV infection in men by approximately 60%.” More than 700,000 males have been circumcised since the decree was issued by the king.

“There are two clinics that have been built by Jewish organizations in this kingdom,” the king told the ANC delegation, whose members included the new party president, Cyril Ramaphosa, at last week’s meeting.

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“They came here because I requested them to come,” the king said. “They (the South African Zionist Federation and South African Friends of Israel) built these clinics the day I announced circumcision on December 6, 2009.” The two clinics, in Mathubathuba and Emondlo, provide HIV-related health services and education for the surrounding communities.

The king urged Ramaphosa and his colleagues not to enmesh South Africa “in wars that we know nothing of.”

Highlighting the benefits of Israel’s water management technology for South Africa, the king observed that “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 because our dams are still not full.”

“They can change that and make our dams our source of life,” the king declared.

Other leading figures in the Zulu nation have also spoken out against the ANC decision to downgrade the South African Embassy in Israel. Nkosi Bishop Phakama Shembe — a key leader of the Shembe Church launched in the early twentieth century by the African evangelist Isaiah Shembe — made a statement this month asserting that “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,” Bishop Phakama Shembe said. “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.”

The bishop emphasized that South Africa’s duty was “not to choose the path of boycott and disengagement, but to assist in whatever way we can.”

Responding to King Goodwill Zwelithinii’s plea to retain close ties between South Africa and Israel, the South African Zionist Federation said it “implores the ANC to take note of the call of the Zulu king, who represents a major constituency of the ANC.”

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  • Kris Kristian

    GOD Bless the Zulu king.
    He is a sane voice in the South African blck community.
    This king knows and understands the truth

  • brynababy


  • danepol

    State capture includes the outsourcing of foreign policy to pressure groups like BDS SA (Boycott Disinvestment Sanctions against Israel in South Africa ), a small group of well funded Muslim intellectuals, who have piggybacked on the African liberation narrative, and managed to persuade the unthinking masses that the Palestinian story somehow relates to their own historical narrative. Far from it and at the sacrifice of ANC foreign policy credibility and South Africa’s real needs and interests.

  • David Kopel

    Listen to your King, South Africa. He has wisdom and vision you don’t.

  • Lia

    There are indeed people of good sense everywhere in the world, though they’re not always heard.

  • Gomer Pyle

    In some ways I still wish Buthelezi had engineered a split away from the rest of the country in ’94.

  • sailor27

    King Goodwill Zwelithini is a brilliant and wise leader, a man of history who is not fooled by the criminal ANC and it’s thieving, criminal thugs. He is a man of vision who takes his heritage seriously, values history, and is loyal his people.

  • M Lyndon

    Male circumcision is a dangerous distraction in the fight against AIDS.

    From a USAID report:
    “There appears no clear pattern of association between male circumcision and HIV prevalence—in 8 of 18 countries with data, HIV prevalence is lower among circumcised men, while in the remaining 10 countries it is higher.”
    (this will include men who were circumcised tribally rather than medically, but they and their partners may also believe themselves to be protected, and the whole rationale for the RCTs into female-to-male transmission was a purported correlation between high rates of male circumcision and low rates of HIV)

    It seems highly unrealistic to expect that there will be no risk compensation. The South African National Communication Survey on HIV/AIDS, 2009 found that 15% of adults across age groups “believe that circumcised men do not need to use condoms”. This figure seems to have been unchanged in 2012.

    A study in Zambia found that “30% of women at R1, and significantly more (41%) at R2, incorrectly believed MC is fully protective for men against HIV.”

    It is unclear if circumcised men are more likely to infect women. The only ever randomized controlled trial into male-to-female transmission showed a 54% higher rate in the group where the men had been circumcised.

    ABC (Abstinence, Being faithful, and especially Condoms) is the way forward. Promoting genital surgery seems likely to cost African lives rather than save them.

  • Reb_Yaakov

    Fascinating look inside the Zulu nation — a reminder that “il y a toujours le revers de la médaille.”