Durban – The recent conflicting messages over King Misuzulu KaZwelithini’s health, involving traditional prime minister to the Zulu nation Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, point to tensions between the two leading figures in the Zulu nation and should be addressed swiftly.
This is the view of cultural experts and historians following a number of statements in the past few days over the king’s health, with the traditional prime minister insisting that the king is not well and is being treated at a hospital in eSwatini, while the king’s spokesperson Prince Africa denied such claims.
Cultural expert from the Indonsa Institute, Professor Musa Xulu, said it was clear that there were tensions between the king and the prime minister, adding that the recent episodes illustrated this.
“It is important that these get ironed out so that the royal household retains its dignity,” said Xulu. He added that mediation was a logical step in dealing with the matter, but pointed out that this was a traditional matter that needed to be handled by figures with a traditional background.
According to the cultural expert, while King Mswati of eSwatini would be considered a candidate, he would not be ideal for the task.
“Because he is an uncle to the king he is already conflicted and therefore would not be fit to mediate on the matter,” Xulu said.
Another expert, Dr Zakhele Shamase, said it was clear that the king and his prime minister were not on good terms. He cited the recent episode regarding the appointment of Inkosi Ntandoyenkosi Mzimela as chairperson of Ingonyama Trust Board as one of the causes for the tensions between the two leading figures.
The trust administers vast tracts of land that are under traditional leaders, and the king appoints the candidate deemed fit to hold such a position. There had been conflicting reports on whether Jerome Ngwenya would remain the chairperson of the board, but Inkosi Mzimela emerged as the new chairperson.
“It is important that the matter gets attended to very swiftly before it gets out of hand. A divided royal household is not a good thing,” said the University of Zululand academic.
Both experts agreed that the position of traditional prime minister had been an important one throughout the history of the Zulu kingdom. They stressed that it was on this basis that the current tension was a matter that needed to be attended to swiftly. On Tuesday, Prince Buthelezi again denied suggestions of a rift between himself and the king.