'Free the king or lose our votes'
Three aggrieved Eastern Cape monarchs have given President Cyril Ramaphosa seven days to release jailed AbaThembu King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo or lose the votes of their subjects.
The kings all called for a presidential pardon, not parole.
Two parallel media briefings, one more hardline than the other, were held - one in Mthatha by some of the Eastern Cape kings at Walter Sisulu University and another by Dalindyebo's king’s council at Bumbane Great Place, about 50km from Mthatha.
Dalindyebo has been in prison since December 31 2015 and is in the fourth year of his 12-year sentence.
Mlamli Ndamase, convener of the the meeting at WSU, said: “President Ramaphosa has avoided meeting us numerous times. He has been ducking and diving. We have resolved today that we give President Ramaphosa seven days to release Zwelibanzi, or we will not vote for the ANC and will mobilise our people to vote for any political party, but not for the ANC.”
Among the kings who took the decision were AmaXhosa King Mpendulo Sigcawu, Western Thembuland King Siyambonga Matanzima and Nkosi Mzubanzi Jali, who represented AmaRharhabe Queen-Regent Noloyiso Sandile.
Also attending the meeting was Dalindyebo's spokesperson, Prince Mthunzi Ngonyama, who said that he had been instructed by Dalindyebo himself to attend the meeting on his behalf and that Dalindyebo was in agreement with the resolution of the kings.
Earlier in the morning in Bumbane, AbaThembu royal council chairperson Nkosi Thandisizwe Mtirara, Nkosi Dumisani Mgudlwa and Dalindyebo's brother, Prince Siganeko Dalindyebo, held their own media briefing where they gave people the choice to vote for whom they wished.“'We have covered a great deal of the ground and the release of Zwelibanzi on a presidential pardon is at an advanced stage. We can get a message at any stage. I can get a call at anytime that the king is being released. But it all rests with the president and we have confidence in him. While we appreciate efforts by other sectors we urge them not to spoil the process,”' said Mtirara.The said they had been in touch with Ramaphosa and justice and correctional services minister Michael Masuta over the firstname.lastname@example.org..