While both ANC NEC member and Police Minister Bheki Cele and KZN premier Willies Mchunu were present at the imbizo, neither spoke at the event.

Niehaus’s apology was met rapturous applause and laughter from the 4,000-strong crowd, which included ambutho and indunas.

It was a matter of hours, however, before Niehaus was reined in by ANC elections head Fikile Mbalula, who said the MKMVA veteran had spoken out of turn.

But Mbalula admitted that there was an urgent need for the top leaders of the ANC to meet with the king to dispel the notion that the party was anti-Zulu.

“The ANC has got no view to take any land in the hands of the Zulu nation; the ANC has never formulated a view. We will engage with the king to articulate this and make the position of the ANC very clear. The ANC president will lead that process‚” he said in a statement on Thursday.

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