King Goodwill Zwelithini. Picture: THULI DLAMINI
King Goodwill Zwelithini. Picture: THULI DLAMINI

Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini is said to have told President Jacob Zuma to consider going away quietly instead of putting the country into a chaotic and constitutional conundrum.

Zuma paid the Zulu king a "surprise" and "unexpected" visit in one of his royal palaces outside Ulundi, in northern KwaZulu-Natal on Monday. The meeting took place on the same day that the ANC’s national working committee (NWC) held an urgent meeting to discuss the outcome of the party’s top six leaders’ meeting with Zuma on Sunday evening.

In the Sunday meeting Zuma is said to have refused a request to resign, and instead reportedly challenged the party to fire him.

Presidential spokesman Bongani Ngqulunga on Monday said Zuma’s meeting with the king was routine, describing it as a courtesy call by the president on the king.

"This is a long-standing courtesy meeting between the president and his majesty, which was initially meant to take place in January but was postponed due to diary challenges on both sides," Ngqulunga said.

The spokesperson for the Zulu royal household, Prince Thulani Zulu, was more cagey, saying he could not comment on the meeting until he had been properly briefed.

But a Zulu royal house insider, who was present during the meeting, said Zuma had requested a special meeting with the Zulu king to present his side of the story as pressure mounts for him to resign ahead of a vote of no confidence against him scheduled for February 22.

"The king had asked Zuma if he would not consider resigning from his position. Zuma said he is weighing his options but kept on repeating that if he resigns now it would mean that he would [be] admitting that he had done something wrong. He said he hadn’t done anything wrong during his presidency," said the insider.

The source also said the king had been in talks with the newly elected ANC leadership — the top six had visited him earlier this year.

The ANC leadership is wary of being seen as humiliating Zuma and alienating his supporters, especially in KwaZulu-Natal, hence the attempt to tread carefully in getting Zuma to vacate the presidency.

"The king promised Zuma that he will talk to the other ANC leaders to facilitate a solution to the growing tensions around succession in the ANC and in the country.

"Zuma said his prediction that foreign forces are out to get him and that they are supporting the regime change agenda have been proven true. He is visibly a worried man.… He believes that the new ANC leadership wants to throw him under the bus and he indicated to the king that he is ready to fight back if necessary," said the royal insider.

Please sign in or register to comment.