ZULU STORM: HOW THE KING AND BUTHELEZI FELL OUT

By Zukile Majova
Political Editor

From the beginning of his reign, Zulu King Misuzulu kaZwelithini has been managing a potentially dangerous fallout between himself and Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi.

The 94-year-old founder of the Zulu traditionalist political party, the Inkatha Freedom Party, remains a powerful player in KwaZulu-Natal politics.

His alliance with King Misuzulu is rightfully regarded as the main reason the king ascended to the throne despite his position being challenged by his brother Prince Simakade.

It was Buthelezi himself who stuck his neck out for the future king when he read the final will of Misuzulu’s late mother, Queen Regent Mantfombi, who nominated her son as the future king of the Zulu nation.

Immediately a group masquerading as the king’s loyal faction suggested His Majesty should remove Buthelezi from his position as traditional prime minister to the nation and monarch.

Misuzulu rejected the anti-Buthelezi brigade and forged a strong alliance with him which culminated in the king’s official coronation last October.

Since then, the king has discovered to his surprise that Buthelezi does not always agree with him on how the 15 million-strong Zulu nation should be run.

And so began a fallout that now threatens to spill into violence and bloodshed.

These are the main contentious issues:

  • Appointment of the king’s main advisors Professor Jabulani Maphalala and former eThekwini Metro deputy mayor Philani Mavundla. 

Buthelezi regards these two as his political enemies. Mavundla used to attack Buthelezi while he was still the ANC regional chairperson of the Inkosi Bhambatha region, writing articles that questioned Buthelezi’s political standing. 

Maphalala, on the other hand, rejected claims that Buthelezi’s grandfather led the Zulu regiments during the famous Battle of Isandlwana in the Anglo Zulu War in 1879. 

  • Appointment of Prince Simphiwe Zulu to replace Prince Mbonisi at the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs as representative of the king.

This being a lucrative and influential position, Buthelezi wanted another prince from the Nxangiphilile royal house to replace Mbonisi.

  • Removal of former judge Jerome Ngwenya, after 23 years as chairperson of the Ingonyama Trust Board, in February. Ngwenya is challenging this in court and Buthelezi supports him.
  • Appointment of Inkosi Thanduyise Mzimela as chairperson of the Ingonyama Trust Board. 

The trust controls three million hectares of the king’s lands, collecting royalties from large plantations in the paper production industry, the sugarcane industry, game parks and holiday resorts across the province. 

Mzimela, the son of the former chairperson of the National House of Traditional Leaders Inkosi Mpiyezintombi Mzimela, commands loyalty in many communities along the KZN North Coast.

  • Most recently, the king has terminated the contract of a law firm with alleged loyalty to Buthelezi, Strauss Daly Inc, and announced plans to appoint new lawyers to represent him in court next week. The legal battle for the throne lodged by Prince Simakade is due at the North Gauteng High Court from 31 May to 2 June.
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