Over the weekend, at his home in Nkandla, Zuma hosted a powerful delegation of the eSwatini political party, Mangololo.
The conservative party was formed late last year, in reaction to many Swazi citizens rebelling against Mswati and his regime and demanding political reforms – such as being allowed to elect their own prime minister instead of having the king choose one (usually his proxy) for them.
The stated aim of Mangololo is that the status quo should remain, with Mswati retaining absolute power, including appointing judges, the cabinet and even controlling the country’s finances via proxy finance ministers.
According to media reports, the delegation looked to Zuma for "guidance" on how to contain the raging protests against the king, while giving him a “true picture” of what is happening in the kingdom.
Mzwanele Manyi of the Jacob Zuma Foundation responded to the SSN’s criticism, saying it was misplaced.
“So, H.E. (His Excellency) president Zuma is being blamed and insulted for receiving visitors? I think it would be more constructive if the Swaziland Solidarity Network requested their own meeting with President Zuma.
"H.E. president [Zuma] is a dignified former head of state and does not have the luxury to exchange hot words in public with anyone. Like the tallest tree, he does expect to be disparaged and insulted by people who have no evidence of the many unsavoury allegations they generally lambaste him with. President Zuma's door remains open for anyone that seeks to have constructive engagement with him,” Manyi said.
Zuma’s decision to host the delegation has irked the SSN, which said it was shameful the former president had decided to engage with undemocratic forces.
The network’s spokesperson, Lucky Lukhele, said it was not surprising that Zuma did so, as he is known to be close to King Mswati.
"As the Swaziland Solidarity Network we are not surprised at all by the behaviour of former president Jacob Zuma. Comrade Zuma has been hiding behind the progressive movement, in this case, the African National Congress. So, the Mangololo group, like your National Party or Afrikaner Broederbond in South Africa, they have been created by King Mswati to come and neutralise (the fight for political reforms),” Lukhele said.
Lukhele said Zuma had refused to meet the leadership of the pre-eminent Swazi opposition party, PUDEMO (People's United Democratic Movement) while he was still the president of the ANC.
“For him to all of a sudden meet with some of them from the Swaziland regime, suddenly he sees them as progressives, is a serious embarrassment to any person that calls himself progressive. So this on its own must open eyes to those who call themselves hard core left or revolutionaries, to understand that here we are dealing with an opportunist and any person that aligns themselves with one of the most backward regimes in the world must tell you that, is not a progressive fellow,” Lukhele added.