Sunday World

Unceremoni­ous end to Amazulu regiments leader ‘Mgiliji’

Mgiliji axed for backing Zuma

- By Sandile Motha

Despite having played a prominent role during the reign of the now late Amazulu King Goodwill Zwelithini kabhekuzul­u, Zihogo Maguzumbel­a Nhleko, better known as Mgiliji, managed to keep a low profile.

Mgiliji, a staunch traditiona­list who takes no prisoners, is the long-serving commander-general of Amabutho kazulu (Amazulu regiments). As a trusted servant and a warrior, he served the late king for over two decades.

He received unexpected popularity and public admiration when he led throngs of Amabutho to collect the mortal remains of the late Amazulu king, who had passed on at Durban’s Chief Albert Luthuli Hospital in March.

In keeping up with the AmaZulu tradition and cultural beliefs, Amabutho had to travel about 300km from the king’s royal palace of Kwakhethom­thandayo in Kwanongoma, in northern Kwazulu-natal to Durban. As dictated by the traditiona­l norms and values, Amabutho had to be the first ones to see and receive the king’s remains before he could be transporte­d to his home.

Now the much-revered Mgiliji faces an uncertain future having been expelled from his role as leader of Amabutho, a role he has occupied most of his adult life. Among a plethora of charges against him is that he led Amabutho to Kwadakwadu­nuse, the ancestral home of former president Jacob Zuma.

About 500-strong Amabutho converged on enkandla to pledge support to Zuma who faced imminent arrest. They said they were ready to unleash a reign of terror on anyone who wanted to arrest Zuma. Their stance backfired spectacula­rly when the Amazulu royal house called Mgiliji to order, saying their crusade was not sanctioned by the Amazulu king.

Responding to his expulsion, Mgiliji has not minced his words, telling Sunday World that supporting Zuma was a just cause. “Zuma is one of our own and I do not regret the decision to support him. He is part of Amabutho and an attack on Zuma is an assault on Amazulu as a nation. Besides, I was never paid as the commander of Amabutho. I voluntaril­y took the job because I wanted to serve the Zulu people and the king, which I did with distinctio­n,” he said.

He added that as it stood, Amazulu had no recognised king and, as such, nobody would have been authorised to sanction Amabutho.

“We never said we were representi­ng the aspiration­s of the royal house or the king. We went there on our own accord to defend Zuma as somebody who is a Zulu. We felt that it was our duty to defend one of our own.”

Professor Jabulani Maphalala, a retired academic and Isizulu history expert, said Amabutho were a significan­t symbol in the Amazulu kingdom and the heart of Amazulu throne.

“They should not be seen to be choosing political sides. Their role is to pay allegiance to the reigning king by leading certain ceremonies organised by the king. They should only protect and defend the throne.”

Amazulu traditiona­l prime minister Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi accused Mgiliji of being a loose cannon who defied the royal house by questionin­g the legitimacy of the king-inwaiting, Prince Misuzulu.

 ??  ?? Zihogo Maguzumbel­a Nhleko, better known as Mgiliji, was the long-serving commander-general of Amabutho kazulu.
Zihogo Maguzumbel­a Nhleko, better known as Mgiliji, was the long-serving commander-general of Amabutho kazulu.

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