AbaThembu King Buyelekhaya Zwelibanzi Dalindyebo. Photo: Sumaya Hisham

Johannesburg - AbaThembu King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo has summoned his kingdom’s chiefs to his official residence Bumbane Great Place, outside Mthatha, to discuss President Jacob Zuma’s moves to dethrone him.

The meeting is scheduled for Sunday and follows another impromptu gathering of Dalindyebo’s closest allies and advisers on Friday, in which it was resolved to call an urgent meeting following the delivery of Zuma’s letter by Traditional Affairs director-general Professor Muzamani Charles Nwaila.

According to a source close to the royal family, the king will publicly respond to Zuma’s letter, which took him by surprise, on Tuesday.

Dalindyebo blames Nelson Mandela and his grandson, Mandla Mandela, for his troubles and plots to oust him. He has previously dubbed Mandla Mandela as an illegitimate chief. The controversial king also believes his estranged wife and member of the Eastern Cape House of Traditional Leaders, Noluntu Dalindyebo, is part of the group that wants him ousted.

The group that wrote to Zuma asking him to dethrone Dalindyebo includes his relatives, AbaThembu Royal Council chairman Nkosi Thanduxolo Mtirara and Nkosi Daludumo Mtirara.

But Dalindyebo’s allies believe Zuma should not have recognised the group as it is not representative of the entire AbaThembu nation.

They also link the delivery of the letter to Zuma’s visit to Mvezo to celebrate Mandela Day last Friday.

In July last year, Dalindyebo and a delegation of AbaThembu leaders delivered a memorandum to Zuma at the Union Buildings, demanding that he personally visit Bumbane and stop sending ministers with no decision-making powers.

Zuma never visited and soon after Dalindyebo joined the DA.

On Friday, the Presidency confirmed that Zuma had written to Dalindyebo about his certificate of recognition as king. Zuma asked Dalindyebo to make representations about why the recognition certificate should not be withdrawn, in line with the request from the AbaThembu royal family, according to spokesman Mac Maharaj.

“The royal family wrote to the president on October 1, 2012, and February 4, 2013, requesting him to implement their decision taken on September 29, 2012,” said Maharaj.

The royal family’s decision was to remove Dalindyebo as king of the AbaThembu. “The grounds on which a king can be removed are outlined in section 10(1) of the Traditional Leadership and Governance Framework Act, 2003,” Maharaj said.

The act empowers Zuma to oust kings and queens on the grounds of conviction with a sentence of imprisonment of more than 12 months without an option of a fine, physical incapacity or mental infirmity based on acceptable medical evidence, wrongful appointment or recognition and a transgression of a customary rule or principle that warrants removal.

A royal family must inform Zuma, Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Pravin Gordhan and the province’s premier.

Dalindyebo has previously hinted that he was ready to anoint Avenathi Zanelizwe Dalindyebo, his eldest son with his first wife, Mthatha High Court Judge Buyiswa Majiki.

Maharaj said Zuma had requested written representation from Dalindyebo within 30 days of receipt of the letter. – Additional reporting by Sapa

Sunday Independent