Durban — The Zulu royal family, political parties, traditionalists and analysts have condemned former Ukhozi FM personality Ngizwe Mchunu’s threats to prevent the EFF from launching its manifesto in KwaZulu-Natal.
The Zulu royal head of communications, Prince Africa Zulu of Onkweni, expressed the concerns of King Misuzulu and the royal family about “reckless and dangerous” utterances by Mchunu on public platforms.
Prince Africa said the king and the entire Zulu nation were distancing themselves from Mchunu’s utterances, which had tribalistic connotations, warning him not to drag amaZulu’s name into his personal battles.
At his media briefing in a hostel in Johannesburg on Tuesday, Mchunu reportedly attacked EFF leader Julius Malema, again calling him a political devil.
He later vowed to block Malema from entering Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban, the venue the party booked to launch its election manifesto. Mchunu said Malema would enter the stadium over his dead body.
He warned Malema to change the venue, signing off with his mantra, Az’khale (which was translated as a war cry for amabutho to launch an attack on the enemy).
In the video on Facebook, which has been circulating on social media platforms, Mchunu is heard denying being a tribalist, but a proud Zulu. He goes on to say “Zulus are a strong nation who have won wars”.
His speech was again construed as promoting tribalism although he had last year tendered an apology. In his speech last year, he made a statement that had tribalistic connotations. At that time, he accepted that he “erred” and apologised.
Mchunu, however, said he had not forgotten how Malema in “Parliament had insulted former president Jacob Zuma”, adding that Malema had on countless occasions made an apology for insulting the Zulu king.
Mchunu, who also claimed that he was the president of the Bhinca nation (nation of traditionalists), said Malema in a secret meeting offered him the role of premier candidate of KwaZulu-Natal for the EFF, an offer he declined because Malema was a “dictator”.
He said Malema offered him the position because the people of KwaZulu-Natal were angry with him. Mchunu also claimed that Malema wanted him to be premier because he wanted the support of the amabhinca (traditionalists) he (Mchunu) was a leader of, adding that was when the problem with Malema started.
Mchunu did not hide his anger at Malema for “starving” him after JAC Motors, the dealership that had given him a car, repossessed it on EFF’s request. He said the EFF threatened to burn down the dealership garages if it did not repossess the car.
Prince Africa said the royal family had noted with concern that when Mchunu speaks on his online platforms he always pushes his “Zuluness” and sometimes wears a leopard skin headgear, part of a Zulu regiment’s regalia. He said that creates an impression that whatever he says reflects the position of the Zulu nation, which is not true.
“We wish to not only distance the Zulu nation from Mchunu’s threats but warn him not to portray himself as speaking for the Zulu nation because he has no mandate to do so. The only commander of Zulu amabutho is the king, so His Majesty embraces all political parties as the public may have seen the EFF leadership in Ulundi with the king recently and promotes social cohesion among all groups,” Prince Africa said.
Weighing in on his capacity as a regiment and member of Amabhinca, ActionSA leader Zwakele Mncwango condemned Mchunu’s threats to block the EFF, saying he was speaking for himself when he vowed to block Malema from entering Moses Mabhida.
Mncwango said Mchunu was never elected the president of Amabhinca and no such position exists, so he should not be taken seriously when he says he is the Amabhinca leader.
“Mchunu is not a leader of any structure in the province. He has no constituency, so he is speaking for himself,” said Mncwango.
Wearing his political hat, the ActionSA leader said there was nowhere in the province which can be defined as a no-go area, so the EFF like any other party was free to campaign anywhere.
Mncwango, however, sympathised with Mchunu on EFF’s action to influence the car dealership to repossess his car, saying Malema in the past had insulted leaders but no one went for his livelihood. He said the party could have taken the matter to either the Electoral Commission of SA or the SA Human Rights Commission.
Mchunu’s utterances were also condemned by the DA, which warned him not to take the province back to the old days of no-go zones.
DA provincial chairperson Dean Macpherson said no one should be allowed to prevent anyone from exercising his or her constitutional rights based on his or her religious, tribal, racial and ethnic preferences in South Africa.
Independent political analyst Thobani Zikalala said Mchunu had over-exaggerated his public influence after his arrest when he was charged with instigating violence during the July 2021 riots, when Zuma was arrested.
Zikalala added that since then he had mistakenly thought he was a leader of a structure whereas he was not. Zikalala said Mchunu’s tribalistic posture must be condemned in the strongest possible terms since it had the potential to cause violence, especially in a volatile province like KZN, which has always been on the edge whenever it was election time.
However, he also blamed the EFF for how it handled Mchunu’s tribalistic comment last year where he called Malema “a Shangaan who must seek his permission” whenever he wanted to come to KwaZulu-Natal.
Zikalala said EFF should have been smarter and more diplomatic in dealing with Mchunu, adding that dispossessing him of the car was a kind of declaration of war because it had affected his livelihood.
“If I were the EFF I would have reported him to the IEC or taken the matter to the Zulu king and that would have shown leadership rather than going for him,” said Zikalala.
EFF national spokesperson Sinawo Tambo said the party had no further comment on Ngizwe, saying no one will stop the EFF and Malema from entering Moses Mabhida Stadium. The party will hold its election manifesto launch next month. Attempts to get Mchunu to comment further were unsuccessful.
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