Mixed reactions to new prime minister

Zululand District Municipality mayor Thulasizwe Buthelezi and King Misuzulu. Picture: Supplied

Zululand District Municipality mayor Thulasizwe Buthelezi and King Misuzulu. Picture: Supplied

Published Jan 29, 2024


Durban — There was a mixed reaction to the appointment of Zululand District Municipality mayor Thulasizwe Buthelezi as the new Zulu king’s prime minister.

King Misuzulu took everyone by surprise at the 145th commemoration of the historic Battle of Isandlwana on Saturday, when he announced the appointment since there was no indication of his doing so prior to the event.

The king also, for the first time, appointed the deputy prime minister, a position that went to inkosi Phathisizwe Chiliza.

While others criticised the appointment of a politician to the position, others saw nothing wrong with it.

Reacting to the news, independent political analyst Thobani Zikalala said as much as the king was within his right to appoint anyone, he had lost an opportunity to end the long perception of political capture of the kingdom that besieged the entire rule of the late king Zwelithini under the late inkosi Mangosuthu Buthelezi as the prime minister. Zikalala said, for him, the king could have opted for Chiliza to ensure the neutrality.

“This perception of political capture of the kingdom would always be there with the appointment of another active politician to the position. The idea of maintaining the kingdom above politics was a casualty because of this appointment,” said Zikalala.

Zululand District Municipality mayor Thulasizwe Buthelezi is the new Zulu traditional prime minister. Picture: Facebook

However, cultural analyst Professor Sihawu Ngubane said as much as there would be a perception of this, it would not be to the extent of the late Buthelezi’s era since Thulasizwe was just an ordinary member of the IFP – saying he does not wield any political influence within the IFP therefore there would be no political interference in the kingdom affairs. Ngubane said his only concern about the new prime minister was that since he was not inkosi he would not have the same authority that the late prime minister had over amakhosi and traditional matters.

In its reaction, the DA in KwaZulu-Natal welcomed the appointment. Party provincial leader Francois Rodgers said he led a delegation that witnessed the appointment, calling it a “move aimed at fostering stability within the royal household”.

“During the commemoration of the Battle of Isandlwana the Zulu king announced Thulasizwe Buthelezi as newly installed Prime Minister, taking up the very crucial position after the late Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi. The royal household has recently been rocked with several instabilities ranging from the in-house squabbles and court cases challenging the legitimacy of the king's ascension to the throne. It is also worth noting that during his address, the king spoke out strongly against political alignment for someone in his position. This is something the DA provincial leader has previously raised. This is important as the ANC often tends to give orders to his majesty on the basis that it, as a governing party, funds the king's lifestyle,” said Rodgers.

The DA also welcomed the granting of an appeal to president Cyril Ramaphosa to challenge the Pretoria High Court ruling that set aside the recognition of King Misuzulu. The matter would now be heard in the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein.

ANC in KwaZulu-Natal refused to comment on the appointment.

Chiliza welcomed his appointment, saying he appreciated the trust bestowed on him by the king and the royal family. Inkosi said with the strong foundation laid by the late Buthelezi in the position, theirs would be to take the baton and continue where he left of.

Attempts to get comment from mayor Buthelezi were unsuccessful.

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