King Misuzulu on the Zulu throne: what happens next?
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Durban - After weeks of tension and divisions that led to court action, the Zulu nation can finally look forward to the coronation of its next king.
The darling King Misuzulu kaZwelithini, 47, the heir of the recently departed King Goodwill Zwelithini and Queen Mantfombi was named as a preferred successor to the powerful throne on Friday. This after the reading of his mother’s will, which was done live on television.
The announcement came amid tensions in the royal family which had divided the princes and princesses into two factions.
One of them was referred to as the “royal rebels”.
That was the faction that included the king’s siblings, Prince Mbonisi and Princess Thembi, who have been accused of holding “unauthorised” parallel meetings, regarding the successor.
The reading of the Queen regent Mantfombi’s will hit rocky ground when Prince Thokozani challenged its legality.
However, yesterday the situation appeared calm in the Kwangelamankengane palace, in Nongoma where the queen regent lived.
The family, including the would-be king Prince Misuzulu, held long meetings yesterday morning.
Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, traditional prime minister to the Zulu monarch, confirmed that King Misuzulu was already on the throne, having assumed the duties of a king.
He said formalities would follow later on and he had been engaging with the premier of KwaZulu-Natal to facilitate the process.
Buthelezi also said the factions within the family had smoked the peace pipe and pledged to support the newly appointed king.
He said a meeting was held yesterday to address family differences.
“The family appreciates this indication that stability and unity have been restored under His Majesty the King,” said Buthelezi.
The Sunday Tribune has been informed that litigation regarding king’s estate and the will have been withdrawn by those who approached the courts.
The late king's wife Queen Sibongile Dlamini had approached the court to inherit 50% of the king estate as the first wife.
In separate court application, Princesses Ntombizosuthu and Ntandoyenkosi filed an urgent application in the Pietermaritzburg High Court to dispute the authenticity of their father's signature in a will which appointed Queen Manftombi as regent.
According to the source, the decision to withdraw litigations was taken after meetings, where it emerged that their cases were not strong.
“Plans were under way for the coronation of the king, but he must be first cleansed as he lost his parents in such a short period of time. The family felt it would be better if the process was completed sooner rather than later to avoid any confusion,” said the source.
However, Buthelezi said any member of the royal family who wishes to challenge the will in court was free to do so.
He further revealed that he had learnt that some within the royal family were seeking legal advice on challenging the appointment of the new king.
Meanwhile, in a surprise move, the South African Police Services have withdrawn the provision of the VIP protection services to the Zulu royal palace.
In a very late statement on Saturday, Buthelezi said he had not been informed prior to the decision and he was deeply distressed by the news that members of the SAPS VIP Protection Unit have been instructed to withdraw.
“They will therefore no longer provide security for His Majesty the King. It is understood that those at the Palace will withdraw tonight, while those providing security where His Majesty will be staying tonight, will withdraw in the morning.
“Neither I nor His Majesty the King, nor any other member of the Royal Family, have been informed of this decision by the government.
“Nevertheless, members of the SAPS stationed at the Palace have received these instructions from the Provincial Commissioner, purportedly on the basis that His Majesty has not yet been installed by Government and is thus not entitled to VIP protection.
“My understanding from years of public service is that SAPS security is not provided on the basis of status, but on the basis of a threat assessment. It seems perfectly clear that His Majesty the King would be placed in a vulnerable position if security were to be withdrawn at this point.
“Despite the clear and present danger this poses, I am informed that the Brigadier in Charge of the SAPS Protectors stationed at the Palace has confirmed to Advocate Mshololo, who is also present at the Palace, that they have been instructed to withdraw. Both the Zulu Royal Family and the Swati Royal Family are shocked by this sudden development.
“I therefore appeal to the nation to assist us in finding a way to continue security for His Majesty the King, to ensure that he is protected at this critical time,” said Buthelezi.
Earlier Buthelezi said the king would go to Eswatini for about a week to collect all his belongings as he would now reside in the kingdom on a full-time basis.
His mother is the sister of Eswatini’s King Mswati III.
King Misuzulu kept a low profile as a prince and it is understood that he was protected as the next king.
The Sunday Tribune understands that Prince Misuzulu attended school in Britain, along with his cousins from his uncle, King Mswati III, at some stage.
He holds a degree in international studies from the US. He is a member of the Nazareth Baptist Church known as Shembe, which he became a full member of in 2014.
He is unmarried with one son.
Dr Maxwell Shamase, a cultural expert from the University of Zululand, with extensive knowledge of Zulu history, said the chaos was expected in the process of naming a king’s successor.
He said historically, ascending to the powerful throne of the Zulu Kingdom had never been smooth and welcomed by all royals.
“From King Shaka, to the recently departed monarch, there have been threats and drama around succession. So what we saw after the reading of the will was expected, it signifies the power of the throne,” said Shamase.
With regards to the king’s marital status, Shamase said that should not prevent him from being crowned because many Zulu kings ascended to the throne unmarried.
Shamase said Buthelezi may also continue as prime minister under King Misuzulu’s rule, despite his fall-out with some royals.
He said the position of being a prime minister had no time frame and historically, it has been only death that removed predecessors.