Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Buthelezi attacks Nkandla march by Zulu regiments in support of Zuma as ‘treasonous’

Inkatha Freedom Party president emeritus Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi has described the behaviour of amabutho who gathered at former president Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla home in KwaZulu-Natal in a show of strength at the weekend as irresponsible and “treasonous.”

Buthelezi, who acts as traditional prime minister to the Zulu monarch, said the presumptive king, Misuzulu kaZwelithini, had informed him that the leaders of the regiments who showed up to support Zuma in defiance of Covid-19 lockdown restrictions had been summoned to explain their behaviour.

Those who had led the regiments to Nkandla did so without the permission of the incoming king and committed an “insult to the Zulu nation”, Buthelezi said.

He made the comments on Monday morning at a virtual media briefing he called in his capacity as an “elder” in South Africa’s political landscape, saying the participation of the amabutho had not been sanctioned by anybody from the Zulu royal family.

A number of Zulu regiments were among those who gathered at Zuma’s Nxamalala village home over the weekend to show support for him and in anticipation of a move by police to arrest him.

The Constitutional Court last week imposed a Sunday 4 July deadline for Zuma to hand himself over and start serving a 15-month jail sentence for contempt, but a confrontation was averted after the court agreed to hear his application for a rescission of the sentence on Monday 12 July.

Buthelezi said the events at Nkandla were already dividing the country and had the potential to “do much greater harm”.

He said while he sympathised with Zuma’s family, the former president’s lawyers had “let him down” by adopting a legal strategy that saw him refuse to comply with subpoenas and court orders to appear before the Zondo commission into state capture.

“Any lawyer would have known what the consequences would be if he refused to comply,” Buthelezi said. “Mr Zuma’s lawyers let him down and he is now facing the consequences.”

He said Zuma was not the first leader to face arrest in South African history, citing the examples of King Dinuzulu kaCetshwayo and King Cetshwayo kaMpande, both of whom were exiled and imprisoned by British colonial forces. 

Neither of these arrests had sparked an uprising, Buthelezi said, pointing out that even the Rivionia Trialists led by Nelson Mandela accepted their unjust trial in the 1960s.

“This is not the first time that a leader of his stature is arrested in our country … history shows us how those leaders acted, even in the face of unjust trials and how people acted in response,” Buthelezi said, adding that the events at Nkandla, taking place at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, were “simply wrong”.

“People are there challenging the state and in doing so they are [a threat to] all of us who are guided by the rule of law,” Buthelezi said, adding that the participants in the show of defiance at Nkandla were “‘jeopardising the lives of every one of us”.

“That is the greatest irresponsibility of all. It is treasonous what is going on,” he added.

Buthelezi criticised Zuma for failing to reprimand his supporters who fired shots into the air outside his home, but said he had not spoken to the former president to advise him to abide by the Constitutional Court’s ruling.

Subscribe for R500/year

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them and get a 57% discount in your first year.

Paddy Harper
Paddy Harper

Related stories


If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here


Subscribers only

‘The children cannot cope any more’: Suicide in Calvinia highlights...

How Covid-19 has intensified the physical and emotional burdens placed on children’s shoulders.

Capitec Bank flies high above Viceroy’s arrow

The bank took a knock after being labelled a loan shark by the short seller, but this has not stymied its growth

More top stories

Covid-19: No vaccine booster shots needed yet

Scientists agree it is important to get most of the population vaccinated before giving booster jabs

The convenient myth of an Africa spared from Covid-19

There are few, if any, studies to support Pfizer chief executive’s assertion that the global south would be more vaccine-hesitant than the north

Council wants Hawks, SIU probe into BAT’s Zimbabwe scandal

The cigarette maker has been accused of giving up to $500 000 in bribes and spying on competitors

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…