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Eulogy by President Cyril Ramaphosa at the Special Official Funeral of His Majesty King Zanozuko Tyelovuyo Sigcau, Ndimakude Great Place, Flagstaff

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Programme Directors,
Acting King, Prince Dumelani Sigcau,
Her Majesty the Queen, Queen Mother and the Sigcau Royal family,
Your Majesties present and connecting virtually,
Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
Premier of the Eastern Cape, Mr Oscar Mabuyane,
Members of Parliament and Provincial Legislatures,
Leadership of the National and Provincial Houses of Traditional and Khoi-San Leaders,
Leaders of various political parties,
Leadership of Contralesa,
Senior traditional leaders present,
Local government representatives,
Members of the Judiciary and Chapter 9 Institutions,
Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Leaders of religious and business sectors,
Officers and members of the SANDF,

Molweni!

Sidibane apha namhlanje ngexesha elinzima kakhulu kumaFaku, naku izinkokheli zemveli, kunye ne sizwe samaMpondo, kunye futhi nosapho lwase bukhosini. Obu bunzima bu viwa nanga banye abantu balapha emzansi Afrika.

Intliziyo zethu zibuhlungu  kuku swelekelwa nguKumkani uZanozuko.

Amazwi awana kuyi chaza indlela esibuhlungu ngayo kuku lahlekelwa nguKumkani.

Please receive our deepest condolences during this difficult time.

You are not alone in this sorrow.

Our nation wishes you strength and peace in this difficult time.

This is a sad and difficult day, a devastating loss for the family, the nation and the institution of traditional leadership.

When we received the news of the illness of his Majesty King Zanozuko, we believed that he would recover and continue with his duties of leading our people.

Sadly, this was not to be.

He left us, in the prime of his life, when we were still expecting much from him.

When His Majesty King Zanozuko Sigcau was confirmed a few years ago as the King of the AmaMpondo, that occasion heralded a new era for the kingdom.

It held a promise of peace, unity, development and cooperation among the AmaMpondo.

Working with local government, civil society and his community, His Majesty immediately set about to implement development projects to advance the interests of our people in this place.

He visited other Kings to discuss issues of unity and development of their people.

When I visited this area in November last year, I met with His Majesty the King and other Kings and Traditional leaders and members of the communities.

I met with the leadership of AmaMpondo ase Qawukeni and AmaMpondo ase Nyandeni.

We discussed the need for effective consultation on all development programmes in these areas.

On the occasion of the launch of the Eastern Seaboard Development Initiative, I had the privilege of discussing this mega project with the King.

I was impressed and enriched by his vision of socio-economic development.

He impressed me with his extensive analysis of the terrible conditions in which our people live in these parts of our country. 

He knew exactly what challenges exist in this area and the many opportunities and endowments we should use to improve people’s lives.

The Eastern Seaboard Development Initiative proposes the establishment of a new coastal post-apartheid city covering parts of the Alfred Nzo, Harry Gwala, OR Tambo and Ugu District Municipalities.

Kumkani Zanozuko appreciated the socio-economic impact of this initiative and how it could benefit the impoverished and underdeveloped AmaMpondo communities.

He took it upon himself to champion the Eastern Seaboard Development Initiative and started engaging other affected Kingships urging their support.

King Zanozuko was passionate about involving communities as investors in the initiative through land ownership.

To His Majesty, local communities were the first investors in the initiative, whose views and interests should guide the process.

With the Eastern Cape being one of the provinces with high unemployment and poverty rates, we counted on His Majesty’s visionary leadership in this and many other projects to transform the socio-economic conditions of his people.

He was among those monarchs who are determined that economic development should not be confined to the urban centres of our country.

He was one of those leaders who championed the Invest Rural Master Plan, a flagship project promoted by the National House of Traditional and Khoisan Leaders.

His Majesty’s passing left many tasks unfinished and took from us a beacon of development, social norms and values.

We are called upon to take forward his mission.

Fellow Mourners,

Kumkani Tyelovuyo Sigcau descended from a line of heroic leaders, such as Kumkani Faku, who stood their ground against colonialists and other invaders.

They fought for their territory, their sovereignty and for the well-being of their people.

This area has always been a site of struggle.

Some of the most revered leaders of the anti-apartheid struggle, including giants like Isithwalandwe Oliver Reginald Tambo, came from this area.

The Pondoland revolt of the 1960s against the Bantu Authorities was a clear message of defiance against racial oppression.

Many AmaMpondo were killed, maimed or imprisoned for their defiance.

All these wars and struggles ensued so that there can be justice, development and equal opportunities for all.

Since the time has come, no one should stand in the way of this development, which is the dividend of the freedom for which our heroes fought.

Colonialism not only caused widespread dispossession and misery.

Colonialism also sought to distort the institution of traditional leadership in ways that we continue to experience, including through lingering succession disputes.

Yet, despite the concerted effort by colonial rulers to distort the institution, traditional leadership has held firm and has continued to advance the interests of the people it serves.

Under our democratic Constitution and with the progressive laws we have enacted, the institution of traditional leadership is well-positioned to support the economic and social empowerment of all South Africans.

A true father of the nation, His Majesty reviled the migrant labour system, where his people, particularly men, leave their families behind and move to far-away places to seek employment.

He once said:

“It is my hope and my dream that one day soon, my people will not be forced by poverty and desperation to travel for a thousand kilometres from their homes to find work in Rustenburg.”

He longed for a time when the sons and daughters of this area would find employment and other economic opportunities here, so that they can raise families in conditions of comfort, stability and security.

He longed for a time when their skills, energy and effort would be put to good effect to build this area and this province.

His Majesty knew the reality that despite the importance of migrant remittances, they will always be inadequate to sustain livelihoods in his area.

He knew that development has to be engendered from within, from local communities, so that it can be sustainable.

This is why His Majesty was so passionate about developing this area.

In his memory, we must continue with the development projects he was involved in.

We must give full effect to the District Development Model.

His passing compounds the challenges before us.

A few months ago, parts of the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal were ravaged by devastating floods, resulting in massive loss of life and infrastructure.

We pay tribute to those who lost their lives, and we should commit, in their memory, that no project should be stalled as we work hard to develop our people.

The devastating floods hit us when we were still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is important to emphasise that we are not yet out of danger.

We must each take responsibility for our own health and those of others.

If anyone has not yet been vaccinated against COVID-19, I encourage them to do so, and to also subsequently take booster jabs as directed, so that we can defeat the pandemic and direct the resources to development projects.

In this Youth Month, I urge all the youth formations to take this message to their various constituencies so that we all get vaccinated.

Two days before his Majesty’s passing, the Communal Land Summit was held in Ekurhuleni.

The summit dealt with ownership of land by communities, land audits and conflict resolution mechanisms.

These are issues which His Majesty left us still grappling with, and which, working closely with all traditional leaders, we now need to resolve and conclude.

His Majesty was a fervent champion of the fight against gender-based violence, organising imbizos, among other initiatives, to address this scourge.

This is a fight that we all need to take up.

In the same vein, we should also confront archaic practices such as ukuthwala, which violate young girls and deprive them of education and other essential opportunities to create a better future for themselves.

Through such efforts, we can help to restore the sanctity and tranquillity of rural life, and enhance the social cohesion which His Majesty so passionately embraced.

Our Traditional Leaders are the custodians of our people’s traditions and cultures, and in this time of mourning him we know that some festivities and other functions are normally put on hold, according to custom, to observe the solemnness of this period.

We appeal to traditional leaders and elders here and all over the province to be watchful as the initiation season begins, because this is the time when we lose many of our young people at the initiation schools.

We urge more vigilance against fake initiation schools so that we save lives and preserve the integrity of this age-old practice.

We will remember Kumkani for many years.

His name shines in the pantheon of the traditional leaders of this country who fought gallantly against dispossession and exploitation, who fought for a better life for their people.

Umthi omkhulu uwile; lalani ngenxeba MaMpondo.

Boo Faku, boo Nyawuza, sithi singu Rhulumente, akuhlanga lungehliyo, thuthuzelekani.

Ndiyabulela.

I thank you.