AbaThembu king Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo received a hero’s welcome in Nkululekweni, Mthatha, when he arrived for a meeting of the Thembu nation to discuss his possible removal by President Jacob Zuma.
Zuma wrote to Dalindyebo two weeks ago asking him to give reasons why he should not be removed as king following a complaint to Zuma by 14 members of the AbaThembu.
Dalindyebo slammed Zuma and the ANC government and said if the president does not withdraw his letter by August 11, the AbaThembu people will take down the Mthatha based King Sabata Dalindyebo municipality.
The municipality is named after his father, Sabata Dalindyebo.
“The life of that municipality is in Zuma’s hands. If he does not withdraw that letter, he will see our true colours.”
Dalindyebo said he would not accept orders from a “boy”, in reference to Zuma.
“If there was a boxing ring I would be Muhammad Ali and knock Zuma down. I am not scared of him,” he said to loud applause.
“In the ANC I am not hated by the ordinary people but by these dogs who call themselves leaders. I am not going to be apologetic about this issue. When you attack me I can take it, but when you attack the Thembu, I will deal with you,”
“We sang Umshini Wam in exile, not the likes of Zuma who are singing it now. Our president has embarrassed the Zulus. We must not insult Zulus; they have not done anything. The problem is Zuma,” Dalindyebo said.
He said Zuma’s move was a final onslaught and he called on AbaThembu chiefs to unite behind their nation.
Dalindyebo asked his lawyer, Advocate Dali Mpofu, to fight for the AbaThembu kingdom to have its own budget like Zulu monarch Goodwill Zwelithini.
“I am not worried about their money and cars. Zuma must take his stipend. That money does not belong to Zuma’s mother. That money is paid for by taxpayers.”
Dalindyebo introduced his son, Azanathi (22), saying should he die or something happens to him, Azanathi would be the next king.
Dalindyebo said moves to oust him came a day after he made a land claim about a piece of land in Mthatha.
He said he would no longer accept cars and money from government and that government must take their cars and stipends.
“Even if am poor I will not accept crumbs from a witch. Why is government dividing us as royal families? From today onwards the fight of the people of Pondoland and AmaMpondomise is our fight as Thembus. I am his royal highness, the beginning and the end,” he said.
Mpofu said they have already drafted a letter to respond to Zuma.
“We have written to Zuma that he must withdraw his letter by August 11. He must apologise to the king and his nation. Otherwise we are prepared to take this matter to the highest court in the land,” Mpofu said.
Senior AbaThembu chief Mfundo Mtirara likened Zuma’s government to apartheid.
“They are not after our king but they want to destroy our kingship and nation as a whole,” he said.
He said the group that wrote to Zuma was illegitimate and held meetings which were not properly constituted.
Mtirara, an ANC councillor in King Sabata Dalindyebo municipality, said they were prepared to leave the ANC and remain with their kingship.
“We fought for kingships under apartheid and we will do so under this government. This is tribalism because our king is not respected, only Zulu king Goodwill Zwelithini is respected.
“Zwelithini has a budget from the nation and provincial government; our kings have nothing. They are giving him a stipend and now they want to take it. They must take their stipend and leave us and our kingdom alone,” Mtirara said.
Former president Nelson Mandela’s grandson, Mandla Mandela, got the loudest jeers when his name was read from the group that wrote to Zuma to remove the king.
In a show of force, Dalindyebo was flanked by more than 200 chiefs of AbaThembu, some from KwaZulu-Natal and various towns from around the Eastern Cape.
Democratic Alliance provincial spokesperson, Veliswa Mvenya, said removing the king was a political agenda. “He is being punished for leaving the ANC. Hands off our member,” she said.
Mvenya said Zuma should also be given 30 days to explain the expenditure in Nkandla, just like Zuma had given Dalindyebo.
“This is a family matter. The government has no authority on kingships,” she said.
Dalindyebo also received messages of support from the UDM, NFP, Cope, EFF, OR Tambo Business Chamber, Contralesa, MK and Sadtu.