The presence of regiments of traditional Zulu warriors (amabutho) at Nkandla on Saturday to stop authorities arresting former president Jacob Zuma was “unsanctioned” and a “clear act of defiance”.
This is according to traditional prime minister to the Zulu monarch and nation, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi.
The arrival of the amabutho caused consternation and questions about whether Zulu king Misuzulu kaZwelithini had thrown his weight behind Zuma.
However, the Zulu leadership on Saturday, in a statement authored by Buthelezi, laid the “unsanctioned” actions of the regiments at the feet of Zulu commander Zihogo Maguzumbela Nhleko.
Buthelezi said this was Nhleko’s second act of defiance against the Zulu monarchy.
He specifically noted that Nhleko had implicated the royal family by leading the warriors in traditional attire and that the regiments had also performed the Zulu salute, Bayede, in the absence of the king.
“His Majesty King Misuzulu kaZwelithini, together with the Queen Mother, Her Majesty Queen Mayvis maZungu, and the Zulu royal family, wish to distance themselves from the actions of Mr Zihogo Maguzumbela Nhleko, known to many as Mgilija,” said Buthelezi.
“We have noted that Mr Nhleko led a group of people dressed in Zulu attire and accoutrements to Nkandla to join those who are sympathising with the former president, Mr Jacob Zuma. Mr Nhleko did this without any instruction from the king or the royal family, or from me as the traditional prime minister to the Zulu monarch and nation,” he added.
“On the day that the widows of His Majesty King Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu participated in the cleansing ceremony, there was a discussion within the royal family, because the cleansing ceremony normally takes place simultaneously with a ritual hunt,” said Buthelezi.
“However, since His Majesty the king was unwell and could not attend, I spoke to the queen mother and she opened her phone so that the family could join us. Prince Mbonisi and Princess Lindi, the siblings of the late king, were present,” he said.
“However, Her Majesty maZungu later informed me that pressure was exerted on her, particularly by those opposed to the king, saying that the hunt should proceed. They subsequently held a hunt, in spite of the family’s decision,” said Buthelezi.
“Based on the family’s decision, I warned Mr Nhleko … that neither he nor his regiments should attend a hunt in the absence of the king. He agreed that he would not do so.
“Prince Thulani was phoned by a journalist while he was driving and was asked about the regiment’s actions. He merely commented that it was wrong of those who attended to implicate the royal family, because they not only attended, but also performed the Zulu salute Bayede in the absence of the king,” said Buthelezi.
“It still irks some that I am fulfilling my duty to the king and to the nation,” he said. “His Majesty the king has instructed me to issue this statement on his behalf, to clarify the matter,” said Buthelezi.
“His Majesty postponed that prayer meeting, as it would have contravened the Covid-19 protocols put in place by government to be observed by the nation. Another meeting was scheduled for the following day, June 27, and His Majesty issued a statement cancelling that meeting as well, as he does not want anyone to defy the Covid-19 protocols or to place lives at risk.
“Clearly, His Majesty does not encourage people to defy regulations. He never sent Mr Nhleko to Nkandla, nor did he instruct him to go.
“While it has nothing to do with sympathy for the former president, the king does not want to involve the royal family or himself in what Mr Nhleko and those who accompanied him did. It was clear act of defiance,” said Buthelezi.