Traditional leaders should engage with the relevant government structures on policies that they feel are not in their best interests, such as laws protecting criminals.This was a sentiment shared by former president Jacob Zuma during the annual Zuma clan gathering, which was held in Impendle on Tuesday.Zuma — who was welcomed with sounds of ululating when he arrived — appeared relaxed and joked with his audience of more than 1 000 community members during his address.He said the Zulu people were led astray by the colonisers and needed to find their way back so that they can be a great nation that King Shaka intended them to be.He used the reintroduction of virginity testing by King Goodwill Zwelithini as an example, saying he was being criticised for allegedly promoting the abuse of the rights of those who participated.Zuma said this did not make sense to him because parents wanted their children to grow up without being distracted by romantic relationships at a young age.“If I as a Zulu have a way that could ensure self-preservation of my children, the government should support that.”Zuma also touched on the problem of drug abuse and alcoholism in the country. He was echoing remarks by his nephew, Inkosi Simphiwe Zuma of Impendle, who said communities were faced with a scourge of crime and drug abuse.Inkosi Zuma said communities were fed up with living in fear of criminals who sold whoonga without any shame.He said whoonga dealers were known but were not being arrested.The former president said communities needed to review the laws that had been made on their behalf instead of just accepting them. “We need to scrutinise them and check if they don’t result in the tarnishing of our dignity,” he said.Zuma said in South Africa there were laws that protected the rights of the criminals and communities could not do anything to defend themselves against drug dealers.“If you catch someone selling drugs you are told to report it to the police, but you will agree with me when I say that there are very few credible officers who will follow up on that because others are the same as those who have been arrested.“What are we supposed to do as fathers and mothers? If you beat up a criminal, you will get arrested.”He said most of what communities did in order to raise their young in a correct way was considered illegal.“Even when you spank your child because you are trying to make them into a better person, that child can phone the police and you will be arrested.”The former president said communities should be given power to solve some of their problems the way they saw fit without the state intervening all the time.Izintombi (from left) Thobeka Dladla, Nondumiso Mweli and Noxolo Dlamini at the annual Zuma clan gathering in Impendle on Tuesday.He urged the amakhosi to engage with the relevant parliamentary portfolio committees on how the traditional authority could help address challenges faced by their communities.Meanwhile, KwaZulu-Natal legislature deputy speaker Meshack Radebe, who is a staunch Zuma supporter, said many of those who vilified the former president were now pleading ignorance to the great things that Zuma did for the country. He highlighted access to anti-retroviral drugs as well as free basic and tertiary education as some of Zuma’s achievements.Radebe said Zuma’s last gift to the country was to advocate for land expropriation without compensation. He said this was adopted as one of the resolution in the ANC’s national conference last December, but there were now delays in its implementation because Zuma was no longer in power.