SA has lost a revered leader in King Zwelithini - Ramaphosa

Ramaphosa delivered the eulogy following the king's interment in KwaNongoma in KwaZulu-Natal on Thursday.

President Cyril Ramaphosa speaks during the memorial service of King Goodwill Zwelithini at the KwaKhethomthandayo royal palace in Nongoma, South Africa, on 18 March 2021. Picture: Phill Magakoe/AFP

JOHANNESBURG - President Cyril Ramaphosa said that the passing of amaZulu King Goodwill Zwelithini had been met with grief and sorrow, not only by the Zulu people but by the entire nation.

Ramaphosa delivered the eulogy following the king's interment in KwaNongoma in KwaZulu-Natal on Thursday.

He said that the country has lost a revered leader.

"The significance of his long reign and his legacy is not lost on us. History will recall that after many years of conflict and turmoil, it was in the course of his majesty's reign that the Zulu kingdom achieved stability and harmony that had so long eluded it."

READ: President Ramaphosa’s eulogy to King Zwelithini: A huge tree has fallen

Ramaphosa said that the king played a significant role in the achievement of democracy during the tumultuous period of political transition in South Africa.

"Working together with a number of other leaders and especially former President Jacob Zuma, they worked to ensure together that there is peace in this province."

The president also said that he would remember King Zwelithini for leading from the front in the fight against HIV/Aids and tuberculosis.

The amaZulu king was often criticised for hosting the custom "umhlanga" or reed dance, an annual event attended by tens of thousands of unmarried young women, to ensure their virginity.

Ramaphosa said that the king advocated for better health outcomes among his people.

"He founded the Bayete Trust, which has worked to mitigate the impact of HIV and Aids throughout the province. He encouraged responsible behaviour, especially among young people. He challenged the international community to avail more funding against the Aids pandemic and he also challenged the South African government to provide treatment to our people."

Dignitaries have descended on the royal palace to pay their final respects to the Zulu monarch following a private ceremony only attended by close male relatives during the early hours of the morning.

WATCH: Ramaphosa: King Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu remembered for helping bring stability to KZN

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