Ramaphosa’s spokesperson, Khusela Diko, said social media users had taken the picture out of context and that it was in fact taken in November last year while Ramaphosa was still Deputy President.

The picture showed Ramaphosa kneeling next to the Zulu King holding a book.

Social media users claimed it had been taken over weekend, after Ramaphosa hastily cancelled meetings in KwaZulu-Natal to meet with Zwelithini on Friday. It came following the Zulu King’s comments over the Ingonyama Trust and the issue of land.

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“[The picture] has absolutely no relation whatsoever with the engagements the President had this past weekend with King Zwelithini,” she said.

“Nothing could be further from the truth.”

Diko said what the Presidency found “most offensive” was the suggestion that he was “grovelling” in front of the Zulu king.

Worrying!It reinforces the stereotype that Zulus are better than the rest of other tribes. Come on! He’s a King & you’re President. Sit as equals, kneel as equals.President Ramaphosa visits King Toni Mphephu Ramabulana, he has never kneeled before him. pic.twitter.com/qXoxeBm81F

— Patrick Khoza (@Patrick_Khoza) July 10, 2018

KwaZulu u don’t sit on a chair when an elder is in the house, as u can see Ramaphosa was having a conversation with the king so had to kneel can’t bow it disrespecting— Typical_ZULU (@Mabutho_X56) July 8, 2018

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Diko lamented the fact that the picture, taken in 2017, was taken out of context and used in a manner deemed to be offensive to Ramaphosa and his office.

“We just wanted to set the record straight. The President has the utmost respect for traditional leadership in our country and he has the utmost respect for traditional law in our country, but in this particular instance, it has been misinterpreted,” she said.