KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala on Monday wished His Majesty King Goodwill Zwelithini a happy 72nd birthday.
Zikalala praised King Zwelithini for his role in promoting unity among the different races in South Africa.
“Our province is blessed and highly favoured to have a unique leader such as Isilo Samabandla who is one of the world’s longest-reigning monarchs,” said the premier.
Inducted as king in 1968 after the death of his father, King Cyprian Bhekuzulu kaSolomon, Zwelithini is the eighth monarch of the Zulu nation.
He was inducted at a traditional ceremony at kwaNongoma on December 3, 1971.
Zikalala said King Zwelithini is the longest-reigning king of the Zulu nation and the second-longest reigning monarch alive in the world.
“Through the years, His Majesty has consistently led us with wisdom and bold honesty. He has been there providing a beacon of hope during the dark days of apartheid,” said Zikalala.
According to the premier, King Zwelithini has been at the forefront of the fight against HIV/Aids in the province and will be influential in the fight against Covid-19. The province is facing a surge in coronavirus infection cases.
In early June the provincial government increased the king’s budget by more than R4 million.
This was revealed by Zikalala on June 2 during his budget announcement in the provincial legislature in Pietermaritzburg.
“In 2020/2021, the king support and royal house branch has been allocated R71.3 million,” said Zikalala.
This marked a R4.6 million increase from Zwelithini’s previous budget allocation of R66.7 million.
According to Zikalala, the increase was warranted by the Zulu monarchy’s key position in a democratic dispensation that is recognised by the provincial government.