The split in the Mandela family is not the only one – the AbaThembu clan is also split, with one side claiming today that King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo had been deposed nine months ago.
However, according to the Daily Dispatch newspaper, more than 200 AbaThembu senior traditional leaders gave him their support following a meeting at the weekend.
It was called after Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Richard Baloyi had written a letter to the king after a group of concerned royal family members, led by Thanduxolo Mtirara, asked President Jacob Zuma to dethrone King Dalindyebo.
Baloyi instructed King Dalindyebo to convene a meeting of all the Dlomo houses.
“I cannot be told by Zuma and Baloyi to call a meeting of AmaDlomo. Who are they in the affairs of AmaDlomo?” King Dalindyebo asked at the meeting on Saturday.
“No outsider will dictate terms on how I should handle my family matters. He can go to hell.”
One of the traditional leaders, Jonas Ndzambule, said: “Zuma is becoming a dictator. He must not be allowed to do as he pleases. This is not a banana republic.”
The meeting resolved to explore the possibility of interdicting Zuma to prevent him and his government from interfering.
The DispatchOnline said the Presidency could not be reached for comment.
King Dalindyebo used the opportunity to criticise Zuma again, calling him a “parasite”, a “Zulu boy from Nkandla” and a “nonsensical Zulu boy”.
The move by the Mtirara faction in trying to distance themselves from the king is seen as open support for Mandla Mandela and Zuma, all of whom the king has verbally attacked in the past week.
On Saturday, King Dalindyebo stated publicly that he would introduce a process for the removal of Mandla from the chieftainship of Mvezo.
“The royal family for the kingdom of abaThembu regards (King Dalindyebo’s) announcements for the removal of Mandla as a joke, an act of creating confusion, disrespecting the cultural, customary and traditional practices and processes.
“Zwelibanzi Dalindyebo is behind an operation driven to ensuring divisions within the Mandela royal house,” Mtirara said.
“He has, in fact, no rights any more. We have had a number of meetings with the government and are waiting for our resolution to be formally accepted. We do not know how long it will take, but we no longer recognise him.”
Mandla, meanwhile, said King Dalindyebo was renowned for insulting South African presidents.
Only Kgalema Motlanthe “escaped his insults” because his tenure as president was short, but Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki had “suffered under his tongue”.
Mandla’s spokesman, Freddy Pilusa, said King Dalindyebo “smokes a lot of dagga”.
“The announcement he made that he has relieved Nkosi Mandela of his traditional duties is laughable.
“It takes a long customary process to appoint a chief and it takes a long customary process to remove a chief. You don’t just wake up and call a meeting of followers and make such a decision.
“This is an unstable person and therefore what he says can never be taken seriously.
“He has embarrassed his family, hence they want to remove him as king. After being sentenced to 15 years for his crimes (after charges of murder were laid by members of the community) he wrote a letter to the government in 2010 asking that charges against him be withdrawn and that he be given R900 million in compensation for being embarrassed,” Pilusa said.
Mtirara said that in September he, on behalf of the family, submitted a position paper under the “direct” guidance of the elders from the Great House to pass a resolution for the immediate withdrawal of the customary spear.
“The royal family found Zwelibanzi Dalindyebo unfit to lead the cultural, customary and traditional ceremonies for the Great House including other royal houses,” said Mtirara.
The family afforded the king “sufficient time” before passing this resolution, to convince his elders that he was, indeed, still fit to preside using the customary spear over all cultural, customary and traditional ceremonies.
“The family is just waiting for government to implement its resolution,” claimed Mtirara.