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Zulu princes produce letter to back up claim that they are ‘core royal family members’

Prince Mbonisi, right, is once again up in arms. Picture: Sihle Mavuso/ IOL

Prince Mbonisi, right, is once again up in arms. Picture: Sihle Mavuso/ IOL

Published Jun 24, 2022

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Durban - The senior Zulu royal family members, who claim to be "the core members of the royal family" and that no ritual should be performed without them, have now produced a letter to back their claim.

The letter was written to the late President Nelson Mandela in December 1994, and it was signed by the late King Goodwill Zwelithini. Among the 20 royal family members (some who are now late) are Prince Mbonisi, Prince Mathuba, Prince Vulindlela, Princess Busisiwe, Princess Nonhlanhla and Prince Mxolisi.

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Some of these royals have been at the forefront of the royal fight that pits them against King Misuzulu (whom they don’t recognise as such) and Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, the monarch’s traditional prime minister.

On Thursday, they called a press conference in Durban to lambaste the two, saying the ihlambo (cleansing) ceremony planned for this weekend at KwaKhangelamankangena palace in Nongoma is a “comical” one as they (the core royal family members) performed one in June last year.

The letter which was sent to Nelson Mandela in 1994. Picture: Supplied

The ihlambo ceremony involves a royal hunt and the cleansing of the weapons of the late King Goodwill Zwelithini to officially mark the end of the mourning period.

“Your excellency, this is to certify that the under-listed persons have been listed appointed as Members of the Royal Council with effect from 9th October 1994. It is also certified that any matter relating to the King and his royal household will only be handled by the above appointees.

“No other person or group of people than the above will be allowed to handle such matters. Should there be any change at whatever time to the above names, the State president will be duly informed,” the letter reads in part.

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It is not clear whether the late King wrote the letter in consultation with his traditional structures or he wrote it alone and sent it to Mandela.

Prince Mbonisi confirmed the existence of the letter, saying he was in possession of the original one. He added that they “are not even claiming that they are core members of the royal family,” but they are stating the obvious facts, which are in black and white.

In a statement on Friday, Buthelezi said he had noted claims by Prince Mbonisi and the others that he was meddling in royal affairs and the Ihlambo ceremony had taken place.

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Additionally, Buthelezi sought to clarify that Prince Mbonisi was born out of wedlock from a divorcee and, therefore, cannot claim to be a core member of the royal family.

“Finally, it is misleading for Prince Mbonisi to say that it that the cleansing ceremony, in honour of the late King Goodwill Zwelithini, has already taken place. He goes further to inform us that, in his view, this ceremony has already taken place because the spears of the late King have been cleansed by an Induna. This is against protocol, and in fact, they should be held liable to pay a fine for breaking customs.

His Majesty, King Misuzulu kaZwelithini, as the rightful heir to the Zulu throne, is the only person and rightful authority - as King of the Zulu Nation - to lead the ritual hunt. In line with our traditions, this ritual is performed by His Majesty the King and members of the Royal Family alone. I can understand Prince Mbonisi’s resistance to accepting facts, reality and reason. Misleading the Zulu Nation has become his permanent occupation,” Buthelezi said in his statement.

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