DURBAN - OPPOSITION parties in the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature have questioned the government’s respect for Zulu King Misuzulu kaZwelithini and the Zulu royal family when it comes to addressing official government functions.
This after KZN legislature speaker Nontembeko Boyce announced yesterday that the king would not address the first sitting of the legislature tomorrow, or any other sitting, until he has been officially recognised by the president and his coronation has taken place.
Giving an update on the preparations for the State Of Province Address (Sopa), Boyce said that a thorough consultation between the legislature and the Zulu royal family had taken place over the past few days.
The consultation, Boyce added, enabled the legislature to clarify the legal challenge that could have arisen if King Misuzulu had addressed the legislature this week, as there was still a legal contest over who the rightful heir to the Zulu throne was.
In the past, the opening of the legislature was held over two days, beginning with the opening of the legislature which is addressed by the king, and the Sopa, which is addressed by the premier the following day.
Since last year, there has been a lot of uncertainty as to whether the opening of the legislature would be a two-day affair because of the court battle over who would be king.
Boyce told the media yesterday that they had initially planned for a two-day event, anticipating that all the uncertainty would have been dealt with, but this had not happened, prompting changes in the event’s programme.
“As per the practice that started last year, we were expecting the event to run over two days. This was in anticipation that the coronation (of the new king) would have taken place by now.
We were then seized with the task of consulting our stakeholders, including the royal household, over the address by the monarch,” Boyce said.
She added that according to the Traditional Leadership and Governance Framework Act of 2003, the king was formally recognised once the president had issued a notice in the Government Gazette, recognising the person identified as king and issuing a certificate confirming such recognition.
“This has led to the legislature explaining to the royal household that until the finalisation of the formal recognition of the king in terms of the legislation, the house will not be addressed by the monarch,” the speaker said.
She pointed out, however, that the legislature’s standing rules stated that the monarch may address the legislature, and because there was no time frame on which the address could be made, this would take place once the conditions permitted.
“This is a commitment we are further making to the people of KwaZulu-Natal, AmaZulu together with indlunkulu and the king. Upon the conclusion of the coronation process there will be an address by the monarch at a later stage,” said Boyce.
According to the speaker, despite this development both King Misuzulu and the royal house had been invited to tomorrow’s festivities.
The IFP’s Blessed Gwala accused Boyce, the provincial government and the ANC of playing hide and seek on the Zulu king matter.
“The problem here is that at some point the government did not recognise the existence of the new king, hiding behind legalities instead. Now they are speaking of the monarch. They need to communicate one clear message,” said Gwala.
NFP provincial secretary Zandile Myeni said the government’s message lacked clarity. The NFP had last week called for King Misuzulu to be provided the platform to address his subjects this week.
She said they understood that the legislature was a legally constituted house that followed the country’s Constitution.
“But there is a historical context that must be factored in here, and that is that the Zulu nation paid lobola for Queen Mantfombi who comes from the royal family in eSwatini, and there is an understanding that she was the one who would give birth to the next king,” Myeni said, adding that this historical context should put all doubts to bed.
Dr Zakhele Shamase, a cultural expert from the University of Zululand, said the ANC government had found a shield in the legal uncertainty and had used that as a basis for not granting an audience to King Misuzulu.
“Last year, there was already talk that everything would be done in one day to reduce costs, but the ANC has realised that this could have repercussions in the 2024 elections, and that is why they are citing the fact that the president has not issued a certification recognising King Misuzulu as the new king.”