Dalindyebo: God told me to apologise

2015-01-04 15:00

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A Sunday morning church visit was what led AbaThembu King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo to bury the hatchet with President Jacob Zuma.

Despite his truce with the ANC leader, Dalindyebo remains a “committed” member of the DA, which he joined in 2013.

Dalindyebo’s right-hand man and spokesperson, Mfundo Mtirara, told City Press the king had been “born again” and was now a “man of peace”.

Mtirara was involved in hush-hush talks between Zuma’s family and the king prior to their visit to Nkandla on Christmas Eve.

In October, Dalindyebo told a packed hall at the Assemblies of God church in Mthatha that God had said he must apologise to Zuma.

One of the congregants was Nozuko Habe, an administration officer at ANC leader Bevan Goqwana’s constituency office in Coffee Bay. Habe is friendly with Zuma’s son Sizwe.

“When I heard the king saying this, I approached [Mtirara] to find out how serious the king was about this apology,” Habe told City Press.

“When he reassured me that he was sincere, I then approached Sizwe.”

Habe, who was present when Dalindyebo and Zuma met on Christmas Eve, said talks started early in November, when Sizwe promised to speak to his father about a “peace deal”.

“Sizwe flew to Mthatha and cancelled all meetings he had for the week in Johannesburg to meet with myself and chief Mtirara. After we had talked about things, we then facilitated a meeting with the king a couple of days later,” said Habe.

There, Dalindyebo asked Sizwe to help him personally apologise to Zuma.

Mtirara said the king was haunted by remarks he made in 2013 describing the president as a “boy and a liar” who “flushed people like condoms”.

“The king felt that as much as he believes in stating his views without fear or favour, he had somewhat overstepped the mark,” Mtirara said.

During the December 24 meeting in Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal, the two leaders spent about 15 minutes together, then they joined the rest of the delegation, smiling and sharing jokes.

Mtirara said after the two had exchanged gifts, among them a cow each to symbolise their truce, Zuma invited Dalindyebo to dinner.

“The president moved away from his chair and asked the king to occupy it instead. This was to show respect to the king,” Mtirara said.

“At the dinner table, the president invited the king to the ANC’s January rally in Cape Town, which the king accepted. The king will attend the rally in his capacity as traditional leader and not a political member of a party.”

Mtirara said Dalindyebo remained a committed member of the DA and that his visit to Nkandla did not change any of his political views.

He also dismissed suggestions that the king was “cosying up” to the president to escape a possible jail term.

Dalindyebo was sentenced to 15 years in jail by the Mthatha High Court in 2009 after being convicted of culpable homicide, arson, kidnapping and defeating the ends of justice.

The matter is on appeal. Mtirara said the king’s apology also had nothing to do with recent attempts by Zuma to dethrone him.

The president wrote to Dalindyebo in July after complaints from various AbaThembu leaders called the king’s behaviour “unroyal” and demanded his removal.

“The apology by the king to the president is unconditional. The king does not want any form of intervention from the president, be it with the criminal matter or the matter of the dethroning,” Mtirara said.

“The king was simply saying sorry for what he had said.”

But Zuma is not entirely off the hook when it comes to Dalindyebo’s notoriously sharp tongue. Mtirara said the king would continue to speak out if he saw problems with the president’s administration.

“His Majesty will speak out when there is corruption, as he normally does. This apology does not change his beliefs.

“All he was apologising for was the harsh language he used in criticising the president – not for his views,” Mtirara said.

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