Jacob Zuma calls for more power for amakhosi, takes a dig at Ramaphosa

18 January 2024 - 10:50
Former president Jacob Zuma says more power should be given to amakhosi who are the true leaders of the people, during a meeting at Nkandla.
Image: Lwazi Hlangu Former president Jacob Zuma says more power should be given to amakhosi who are the true leaders of the people, during a meeting at Nkandla.

Former president Jacob Zuma has called for the abolition of the “western” judicial system and installation of a constitutional system that gives greater authority to traditional leaders.

Zuma said amakhosi ruled the land peacefully until the colonial period. He said the colonisers understood that traditional leaders were the “owners” of the land and when they “stole” it they stripped them of their power and authority.

He suggested amakhosi should be a “sovereign” authority with central executive powers.

“When we got our freedom we should have taken back the land and reinstalled the authority of traditional leadership like in other countries where there are amakhosi as heads of state and a government that serves under them,” he said.

“Amakhosi should have the final say on issues affecting their people.”

Zuma was speaking to traditional leaders and members of the new political formation the All African Alliance Movement (AAAM) at his Nkandla homestead in northern KwaZulu-Natal on Wednesday.

He said no-one consults amakhosi for their input before passing new laws in parliament.

Roman-Dutch law had taken away the power of amakhosi to rule over their people and given it to white men and a few politicians, he said.

“People under amakhosi are poor since the arrival of the white men. When will we free ourselves from that? ... We would be cowards if we don’t fix this. We can’t beg outsiders and be the poor ones.”

Despite endorsing the new uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) party, Zuma questioned the formation of many small parties by blacks. He said that was perceived as democracy but was in fact a “deliberate construct” by whites to divide black votes.

“They were afraid because we are the majority, if we all voted together we would always win by a landslide and be able to amend the law. They don’t want that [so] they fund our people to create different parties so we will remain divided. When will we realise that and unite?”

He said the ANC was created by traditional leaders as a movement, not a party, to unite black people to fight an oppressive system.

In a dig at President Cyril Ramaphosa, Zuma said people should be able to remove a president before the end of their term if they’re not satisfied with their service and remove the cap on the number of terms they can serve.

“When someone is doing a bad job we must remove him, just like we’re going to do with the one who is leading now. We must remove this person, he’s holding us back,” he said.

“Why keep someone who is failing us? We have to replace him now. We are poor, unemployed and living in darkness [but] we’re holding on to the Roman-Dutch law that says he must finish his term.”

“Also, if there’s someone who is doing well we should not limit his time. Other countries do it where a president leads for as long as he’s doing well.”

Referring to the Phala Phala saga, he suggested Ramaphosa was a “criminal” who was being defended by his party and the judiciary.

“Why are we quiet as a nation? Leading the country is a big responsibility, we can’t give it to a criminal and not reprimand but instead defend him.”

He appealed to traditional leaders to vote for MK in the upcoming elections.