Zulu king Goodwill Zwelithini was on Friday conferred an honorary doctorate in social work by the University of Zululand in KwaZulu-Natal.
Professor Xoliswa Mtose, vice-chancellor of the university, said that the graduation ceremony was “special because it marks the conferment an honorary degree to an extraordinary leader whose philanthropic deeds have made a notable contribution to society”.
Speaking at the ceremony was Deputy President David Mabuza, who congratulated the king on his conferment.
“The conferment of the honorary doctorate in social work to His Majesty King Goodwill Zwelithini ka Behkuzulu, is a major recognition of the pioneering work that he is doing for the betterment of the lives of the people of KwaZulu-Natal and the entire South Africa,” Mabuza said.
Mabuza said that the impact of Zwelithini’s work was being “recorded in history books” by him being awarded the doctorate.
Mabuza also congratulated the leadership of the Bayede Foundation Trust, which was founded by the king in 2006, which focuses on HIV/Aids initiatives in the province. The trust is also who nominated Zwelithini, despite his nomination receiving backlash from senior academics.
Last weekend, City Press reported that the Save UniZulu Community, which comprises senior academics and other interest groups, said something was “suspicious and strange about the same university honouring the king twice”.
READ: It’s Dr King Zwelithini as varsity needs land
The king was previously awarded an honorary doctorate in agriculture in 1994 by the same university, for his role in promoting agriculture.
The reason, according to last Sunday’s City Press report, that the university was conferring the doctorate on the king was because the university wanted to have the land upon which it was built, which was currently owned by The Ingonyama Trust, transferred to its name.
Zwelithini is the sole trustee of The Ingonyama Trust.
Today Mabuza quoted former president Nelson Mandela, who once said that Zwelithini was “the most consistent voice and campaigner for peace and unity among his people. It is largely due to his ceaseless commitment to peace that relative stability and peace have come to the province of KwaZulu-Natal”.
Mabuza also commended Zwelithini for leading “the campaign to get men in KwaZulu-Natal and hostels in Gauteng circumcised to reduce the risk of spreading HIV”.
“Through him, we have come to value and appreciate indigenous ways and traditional wisdom to prevent unwanted teenage pregnancy, premature sexual intercourse, and the spread of sexually transmitted infections,” Mabuza said.
Mabuza, who was appointed as the chairperson of the South African National Aids Council in March this year, said that he was joining Zwelithini in “our call to all our traditional leaders to work with us in finding ways to end Aids by 2030”.
Mabuza also shared how the Zulu royal family had offered cattle for the funeral of the late struggle stalwart Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, and how though this gesture Zwelithini “reminded all of us of the importance of practically supporting those that are bereaved”.