Royal family faction tells Ramaphosa not to recognise anyone as king yet
The coronation of a new Zulu king could be further delayed if President Cyril Ramaphosa accedes to a request from a faction of the Zulu royal family that is opposed to Prince Misuzulu’s elevation to the throne.
The faction has written to Ramaphosa to tell him of their intention to appeal a court judgment last week that paved the way for the coronation of Prince Misuzulu.
The letter comes as divisions within the royal family played out in public again when the two factions held separate prayer events yesterday to mark a year since the death of king Goodwill Zwelithini.
One group, led by Zwelithini’s brother Prince Mbonisi, met at KwaKhethomthandayo Royal Palace, while the opposing side gathered at KwaKhangelamankengane Royal Palace where Prince Misuzulu and traditional prime minister Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi were in attendance.
Prince Mbonisi’s lawyers informed Ramaphosa of the intention to appeal the judgment, which conferred legal recognition on a royal family meeting at which Prince Misuzulu was named as heir to the throne. The lawyers said the meeting in May last year had not been valid.
“We urge that the dispute of the Zulu royal family over the legal validity of the meeting of May 14 2021 be allowed to run its course without it being about the constitutionality of the president’s exercise of his constitutional power to recognise a king for the Zulu kingdom,” the letter said.
“As long as there are legal proceedings over the legal validity of the meeting … and the selection or identification of Prince Misuzulu Zwelithini, the president should not endorse any application and submissions made to him by anyone in terms of … the Traditional Leadership Act for the recognition of a person as king.”
The Prince Mbonisi group is believed to prefer Prince Buzabazi as heir to the vacant throne.
Judge Isaac Madondo last week dismissed an application by Prince Mbonisi to halt the coronation of Prince Misuzulu.
The judge said Prince Mbonisi had not been party to the royal family meeting at which Prince Misizulu had been nominated as the next king; therefore he could not dispute the outcome.
The letter to Ramaphosa, which the Sunday Times has seen, said: “We hold instruction to lodge an application for leave to appeal the aforementioned judgment and orders of the honourable deputy judge president Madondo on the basis, amongst others, that its findings on the meeting of May 14 2021 are legally untenable and wrong.
“The Zulu royal family as defined in the act, together with the Zulu royal council, has to date meticulously followed the statutory and traditional procedures for the identification and selection of a member of the royal house to serve as king. It has not yet met to select a king for the Zulu kingdom,” the letter read.
The lawyers asked the president to withhold recognition of a new king until the legal processes were complete, and to offer an undertaking in this regard to “our clients”.
“If such an undertaking is made, we anticipate that the honourable president will abide by the decision of the court in any pending or subsequent applications by the Zulu royal council and the Zulu royal family,” the lawyers said.
A recent statement from the KwaZulu-Natal provincial government said the matter of the Zulu succession was being handled in line with legislation that provides for the president to deal with such disputes.
For a coronation to take place, Ramaphosa will have to sign and gazette the decision.
King Zwelithini died in March last year in a Durban hospital after suffering a Covid-related illness. In a disputed will he nominated his wife, Queen Mantfombi Dlamini-Zulu, as the regent. But she herself died less than a month later. In her will she nominated her son, Prince Misuzulu, as the next king.