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Abathembu King Buyelekhaya Zwelibanzi Dalindyebo has described the ANC and President Jacob Zuma as "corrupt hooligans" in Qunu in the Eastern Cape, The Times reported on Monday. At a prayer service for former president Nelson Mandela, Dalindyebo reportedly said the African National Congress had distorted the anti-apartheid icon's legacy and behaved arrogantly.
"Zuma's leadership is distorting Madiba's leadership, it's distorting the ANC's leadership."
"If the ANC continues to [govern] the country for the next 10 years, then you should know that your freedom will be compromised. The ANC should be out of power within the next six years, if not at the next elections. Let's take them out democratically," Dalindyebo reportedly said.
The king said that the failures of the ruling party, particularly that of its leadership, had forced him to look for alternatives in the DA. He said that he would soon invite DA leader Helen Zille and DA provincial leader Athol Trollip to speak to the AbaThembu.
"The DA has never oppressed anyone as an organisation. To segregate the DA is to segregate your own future. If you give hooligans an inch of respect, then you will see the butchering of standards," he was quoted by Times Live as saying.
To loud applause he criticised Zuma's connection to the wealthy Gupta family, saying that certain members of the ANC who have been corrupted by rich people "eat out of the dustbins of the Guptas".
ANC spokesperson Jackson Mthembu told the newspaper the king's remarks were "unfortunate".
"He can't insult a head of state and then demand to be respected in turn."
Mthembu said the king should allow his "subjects" to decide for themselves who they would vote for in elections.
Dalindyebo said if the party remained in power for another 10 years, South Africans' freedom would be compromised.
He said: "I will stop smoking dagga the day Zuma stops being corrupt".