Zulu regiments gathered in Durban for the first time since the death of King Goodwill Zwelithini on March 12. Picture: Sihle Mavuso
Zulu regiments gathered in Durban for the first time since the death of King Goodwill Zwelithini on March 12. Picture: Sihle Mavuso

We won’t be part of Jacob Zuma’s defence force: Zulu regiments

By Sihle Mavuso Time of article published Apr 28, 2021

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Durban - Zulu regiments known for their long-standing loyalty to the late Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini have distanced themselves from reports gaining traction that they have been co-opted to help thwart the arrest of former president Jacob Zuma.

The leader of the regiments, Mlandeli “Mgilija” Nhleko, said it was lies that they would soon be trekking to Nkandla in northern KZN to fortify Zuma’s home to prevent his looming arrest over his defiance of the Constitutional Court.

The rumour that Zulu regiments would join MK (uMkhonto weSizwe) veterans and others in guarding Zuma’s home was began late last month by Andile Hlatswayo, the leader of Ubumbano Lokuthula movement.

Hlatswayo’s movement shot to fame when it engaged in violent protest in Ladysmith early last year and forced the ANC to temporarily shelve its mayor there.

As for the pact to guard Zuma with the regiments, Hlatswayo last month claimed that they have reached an agreement with Nhleko to provide them with back up. At that time, Nhleko denied it.

The matter came up again on Tuesday in Durban where Nhleko and some Zulu headmen convened a press conference to thank regiments and their leaders for ensuring a dignified burial to King Goodwill Zwelithini on the night of March 17.

Asked again about the matter after it was claimed that at the same gathering they would announce their support for Zuma, Nhleko said it was all lies. He said their agenda was to say thank you to each other, nothing more, nothing less.

“We have nothing to do with that, Zuma is a resident of Nkandla and we have nothing to do with that … What is he protected from? We don’t know anything about it,” he said emphatically.

Hlatswayo could not be reached for comment on the latest rumours.

Nhleko’s denial comes as Zuma awaits the Concourt’s sentence for defying its instruction to appear at the Zondo Commission in December and January to answer all questions posed to him regarding the issue of state capture by the Gupta family during his nine-year presidency.

Nhleko was also asked about the reports of squabbling within the Zulu royal house after it emerged that some senior princes and princesses are setting up parallel structures to “advise” acting Queen Regent Mantfombi Dlamini-Zulu.

That prompted Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, the traditional prime minister of the Zulu nation and King, to hit back at the “royal clique”, saying it was causing unnecessary confusion by holding unauthorised meetings and addressing the media.

Nhleko insisted that they would not comment on that because they had no idea about it, adding that their role was being on the side of the king.

“We cannot answer that question as we know nothing about those statements, it’s only you (the media) who know it.”

Nhleko told the gathering that as leaders of the regiments they were grateful that the burial of late King Goodwill Zwelithini did not become a Covid-19 super-spreader event as feared by many.

Nhleko also apologised to the government that the regiments did not follow some of the Covid-19 regulations, saying that was not intentional.

The alleged violations started on March 12, the day the king died, and continued until March 18 when there was a memorial service at Kwakhethomthandayo palace in Nongoma.

Should they have not fulfilled their role of accompanying their king to his final resting place, history would have judged them harshly for abandoning their traditional role as regiments, he said.

Nhleko was addressing a press conference in Durban, held on the sidelines of another gathering of Zulu headmen from around Durban and Zululand.

“We are grateful that so far no one who came has contracted the virus even though there was reported danger when we lost the king.

“From the day we fetched the King (from Durban) there was no social distancing … we failed to manage it. We did not deliberately defy the law despite warnings, no, as the regiments have said, that was a sad day for us after the passing of the king. There was nothing we could do,” he said in Zulu.

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