Zulu wedding fit for royalty

Kwa-Zulu Natal

Durban - When Durban businessman and President Jacob Zuma’s cousin Deebo Mzobe marries his young bride in two weeks’ time it will be a wedding befitting a king.

The who’s who of South African politics will be dolled up in their traditional attire when Mzobe ties the knot with Philile Shangase, 22, in Eshowe on May 11.

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Philile Shangase, 22, at her umkhehlo, a Zulu traditional engagement ceremony where guests pin money on the bride's head. Photo: SuppliedPresident Jacob Zuma's cousin and Durban businessman Deebo Mzobe won't be sending out wedding invitations; it's a free-for-all for Eshowe residents. Photo: Supplied

Mzobe, who refused to divulge his age, saying only that he was in his “early 40s”, is in charge of developing the new “small town” in Nkandla, 8km from the president’s controversial residence.

The deputy chairman of the Masibambisane Rural Development initiative – chaired by Zuma – came in for flak last year when questions were raised by opposition parties about the controversial R2 billion project.

Known for his penchant for flashy clothes and the finer things of life, Mzobe laughed off suggestions that his wedding would be hugely expensive.

“It will just be a simple traditional wedding,” he said, choosing his words carefully.

Initially reluctant to divulge details about the nuptials, Mzobe said it was all systems go for the two-day wedding.

“Everything is going according to plan,” he said of the traditional ceremonies of umgcagco and umabo, the post marital celebration.

“We’re finalising minor details but all the preparations have been done and we’re just waiting for the big day.”

The lavish traditional wedding is expected to be attended by prominent politicians and businessman, including Zuma, Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula, Gauteng premier Nomvula Nonkonyane and the provincial MEC for economic development, Mike Mabuya-khulu.

Members of the Zulu royal family are also expected to be among the hundreds of guests.

Asked who had been invited, Mzobe said as a Zulu man raised in rural Eshowe he did not believe in sending out invitations.

“Basically it was a word-of-mouth invitation,” he said, adding that he expected the “whole community” to join him in the festivities.

“The president will obviously be there and other cabinet ministers and MECs, otherwise it is really a free-for-all.”

When asked if there would be a police and security presence, Mzobe said he expected officials to bring their own security personnel.

Asked whether he had been introduced to Shangase – originally from Nkandla – by Zuma, Mzobe roared with laughter, saying only he was smitten and immediately drawn to her when he first laid eyes on her a few years ago.

A romance soon began and the pair have been inseparable since. “I can’t wait to get married,” he said.

Believed to be a polygamist, Mzobe would not say how many times he had said “I do”.

“Why do you want to know how many times I’ve been married?” asked the staunch traditionalisty.

Close sources have said Shangase – a-stay-at-home-mother to their young daughter – is Mzobe’s fourth wife.

Guests will feast on a buffet of traditional cuisine.

On the menu will be amadombolo (Zulu bread) samp and sweet potatoes with traditional beer the family will start brewing next week.

He said his family would slaughter cows and chickens.

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