The almost 100-year power struggle for the kingship of the AmaMpondo aseQawukeni has once again reared its ugly head.
Mourners attending the funeral of King Zanozuko Sigcau at Ndimakude Great Place in Flagstaff in the Eastern Cape on Tuesday were treated to a preview of the coming power struggle.
Two houses of the same royal family have been fighting for years over which house should produce the legitimate king of AmaMpondo.
The Kingship is one of the most important in the province as it is the home of King Botha Sigcau who was also the prime minister of the former Transkei. Struggle veteran and former minister Stella Sigcau also comes from this family.
This week one faction of the family secured a High Court order for the right to perform certain traditional rituals before the burial of the king, and to be consulted when preparations were being made for the Special Category 1 funeral.
Feeling his faction was being undermined, Prince Mbasa Sigcau took to the podium and accused the government of siding with one side of the family and ignoring the court order.
“The government knows the royal family that appointed the late king as the king of AmaMpondo.
Today there are people here choosing to deal with other people who we don’t know,” Prince Sigcau said.
“There is an acting king. I do apologise. Please can we correct a few things because there is a fear that if we do not present an opposing view, there will be a misconception with this whole mess that we are seeing here.”
The late King Zanozuko himself ascended to the throne after years of disputes between the family members which ended when the Nhlapho Commission on traditional leadership disputes recognised His Majesty as the rightful ruler.
The other faction of the family secured a Constitutional Court disputing the findings of the Nhlapho Commission but then President Jacob Zuma overruled that decision.
Now that King Zanozuko is dead, there is no clarity over who should be the next king of the AmaMpondo people.
The dispute is expected to extend to the king’s estate which has been made even more complicated by news that the late king had another wife; a princess of the AmaBhaca Royal Family of Mount Frere.