ZIHOGO Nhleko, also known as Mgilija, has angered the Zulu Royal Family by taking Zulu regiments to show support for the embattled former president Jacob Zuma without the king’s permission. I BONGANI MBATHA / African News Agency (ANA)
ZIHOGO Nhleko, also known as Mgilija, has angered the Zulu Royal Family by taking Zulu regiments to show support for the embattled former president Jacob Zuma without the king’s permission. I BONGANI MBATHA / African News Agency (ANA)

Mgilija Nhleko ’doesn’t care’ what Buthelezi, Royals think about him leading support for Jacob Zuma

By Willem Phungula Time of article published Jul 5, 2021

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Durban: The controversial leader of the Zulu regiments, Zihogo ‘Mgilija’ Nhleko, has hit back at Zulu traditional prime minister Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi and the Zulu Royal Family.

This was after both Buthelezi and the royal family criticised him for taking amabutho to support former president Jacob Zuma at his Nkandla homestead without King Misuzulu’s permission on Saturday.

Nhleko angrily told the Daily News on Sunday that he did not care what Buthelezi and the royal family said about him leading amabutho to show support for Zuma.

“The traditional attire we are wearing is ours. The royal family did not buy us the attire. What did they want us to wear, the Zion uniform?” Nhleko asked angrily.

He also angered Buthelezi, who issued a statement soon after Nhleko was seen on television parading and commanding amabutho outside the Zuma homestead.

The king's spokesperson Prince Thulani Zulu said the king had no problem with Nhleko and other people going to support Zuma in their individual capacities, but it was wrong to go there as amabutho without their commander-in-chief’s (the king’s) permission.

“The wearing of traditional gear created an impression that they were there as amabutho representing the king, which was not true. The king had not permitted or sent anyone there,” said Zulu.

Armed with a cow shield and stick, Zuma was seen flanked by amabutho singing war cries as if they were ready for war at the weekend.

“His Majesty King Misuzulu ka Zwelithini, together with the Queen Mother, Her Majesty Queen Mavis maZungu, and the Zulu Royal Family, wish to distance themselves from the actions of Zihogo Maguzumbela Nhleko, known to many as Mgilija,” Buthelezi said.

“We have noted that 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. 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 said this was a second act of defiance by Nhleko because on the day that the widows of King Zwelithini ka Bhekuzulu participated in the cleansing ceremony he warned him that he and amabutho should not attend because the king was not coming, but Nhleko defied him.

“Based on the family’s decision, I warned Nhleko (Mgilija) that neither he nor his regiments should attend a hunt in the absence of the king. He agreed that he would not do so. Nevertheless, he proceeded ...”

Nhleko received support from an organisation called the Injenje yabeNguni Council which labelled attacks on him as frivolous.

The organisation’s leader Phumlani Mfeka said iziNduna of the Zulu nation had historically taken decisions whenever the Zulu king seemed indecisive to do so. The battle of eSandlwana and Bambatha attested to this, he said.

“Former president Zuma is a member of amabutho and has numerous times accompanied the late king, on many occasions in this very capacity. Some occasions Prince Buthelezi would be present.”

The Daily News

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