AfriForum's Kallie Kriel among guests at King Zwelithini's birthday celebration

Lobby group AfriForum CEO Kallie Kriel, who attended Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini's 70th birthday bash on Friday, called the ceremony inspirational as the group looks to build better relations with the Zulu kingdom. 

Attending the celebrations at Enyokeni Royal Palace in Nongoma, KwaZulu-Natal, Kriel said he saw a lot of people display pride in their Zulu culture, which left him inspired. Zwelithini turned 70 on July 14.

"In a sense that's what we need to take the country forward, people who are proud of who they are," Kriel told News24. 

Kriel said he also had a three-hour meeting on Thursday with Zwelithini and his lawyer Jerome Ngwenya, the chairperson of the king's Ingonyama Trust, during which matters of social importance were discussed, including the issue of land. 

On his Facebook page, Kriel posted that there was a long history between Zulus and Afrikaners, which is well-documented and that there were examples of both conflict and positive cooperation between the groups.

Speaking to News24, Kriel expanded on this saying that he and the king spoke about building relationships of mutual respect and recognition in a country where there are very diverse views and cultures. 

He added that through building a good foundation following the meeting with Zwelithini, the Afrikaner and Zulu communities in KwaZulu-Natal could work on strengthening inter-community relationships.

"Hopefully this will be the start to expand this to broader cultural communities as a whole," said Kriel.

He also said that the two groups could work together on economic development and solving problems at a local level where government doesn't have the resources to help. 

"[We also] looked at ways where our members and Zulu people can cooperate in terms of local economic development."

On land, Kriel said that he and the king shared similar views that land expropriation without compensation would not benefit the county and that other ways should be considered for land redistribution.

Earlier this month, Zwelithini threatened that if government expropriates land without compensation, he would have KwaZulu-Natal declared a separate nation.

In response, President Cyril Ramaphosa assured the Zulu king that government would not touch land under the Ingonyama Trust.

Kriel and the king also set up a task team to look at ways in which AfriForum members and Zulus could cooperate in the province.