Attempts by Zulu royal members to bury hatchet after days of tensions
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Durban - After days of heated exchanges and accusations, there are internal attempts by members of the Zulu royal court to reconcile and give Queen Mantfombi Dlamini Zulu a dignified burial identical to the one given to the King Goodwill Zwelithini.
On Monday, senior members of the royal court, Princess Thembi Ndlovu (nee Zulu), Princess Mbonisi Zulu and Prince Mathuba Zulu, among others, attended an evening meeting at Kwakhangelamankengane Palace in Nongoma where the mourning for Dlamini Zulu is taking place.
Walking into the palace, Prince Mbonisi briefly said they have been called to a meeting which would be attended by, among others, Queen Mayvis Zungu, the only surviving wife of the late King Cyprian Bhekuzulu, the father of the King Goodwill Zwelithini.
The prince did not divulge the agenda of the meeting.
Minutes later, Princess Thembi was chauffeured in and ushered into one of the conference rooms in the vast palace.
Royal insiders said the meeting was about trying to calm the raging storm in the royal house after the princess and the prince on Monday evening called an impromptu press conference and lambasted Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi for locking them out of critical royal meetings. At the conference, the royals, who are now called “Royal rebels” in the royal court, pleaded to meet Buthelezi, the Zulu king and nation’s traditional prime minister to resolve their differences.
“They want to face each other and resolve the ongoing impasse because they are tainting the royal house and also portraying them as rogues. That is what I know for now,” said a trusted source within the royal court.
It was not clear whether Buthelezi attended the meeting or not. But throughout Tuesday he was within the royal court.
Royal spokesperson Prince Thulani Zulu said he could not comment as he was not aware of the meeting because he was out on some royal business in Vryheid.
The reconciliation efforts come as on Wednesday the royal court is going to receive the body of the queen. The body will be transported from Joburg where she died last week.
As a sign of respect, President Cyril Ramaphosa granted the queen a State funeral (provincial level).
That led to KZN Premier Sihle Zikalala to applaud the move, saying since the queen briefly occupied the throne (from March 21 to April 29) on an acting basis before her passing, she deserved it.
To prepare for the funeral, Zikalala assigned four of his MECs to assist the troubled and divided Zulu monarch. They are Peggy Nkonyeni for Transport and Community Safety, Bongi Sithole-Moloi of Agriculture and Rural Development, Sipho Hlomuka of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs and Hlengiwe Mavimbela of Arts, Culture, Sports and Recreation.
“The MECs have met with the Royal family and have been advised of the following: the mortal remains of the Zulu Regent, Her Majesty the Queen, will depart Johannesburg and arrive at KwaNongoma on Wednesday the May 5, 2021. The funeral/memorial service will take place on Friday, May 7, 2021,” the premier said.
Meanwhile, high-profile mourners continue to visit Kwakhangelamankengane palace in Nongoma to mourn the passing of Dlamini Zulu. One of these was Dr Zweli Mkhize, the Minister of Health. Addressing the media after paying his respect, he said the ongoing royal tensions should be resolved amicably.
“We have obviously seen that there are quite number of issues that are being discussed in public. Our appeal would be for both … the members of the royal family, as well as all those who in the leadership to come together … to discuss the issues. It is really inevitably that there would be tensions ... The royal family has to come together,” Mkhize said.
Also gracing the palace on Tuesday was a delegation from the royal family of Eswatini which was led by Prince Guduza Dlamini, a half brother of the late queen. Dlamini said they were saddened by the passing as they were hoping that the queen would live long enough to groom future Zulu royals.
On the back of this, there is a looming court challenge by disgruntled Queen Sibongile Dlamini Zulu, the first wife of King Goodwill Zwelithini, who wants to inherit 50% of the late king’s estate. The matter is expected to be heard later this week in the Pietermaritzburg High Court.
Lynette Ntuli, from the company which is running public relations for Queen Sibongile, said the legal team handling the matter was not willing to comment.
“They are not making any media comments at this time,” Ntuli said.