South Africa


Misuzulu kaZwelithini to be officially crowned as Zulu king amid tight security

Misuzulu kaZwelithini to be officially crowned as Zulu king amid tight security
Misuzulu kaZwelithini joins amabutho in chant and dance during the 143 years commemoration of the Battle of Isandlwana on 22 January 2022 in Nguthu, South Africa. (Photo: Gallo Images / City Press / Tebogo Letsie)

The event is expected to be attended by thousands of people, including kings, traditional and political leaders, members of royal families from all over Africa and other parts of the world, diplomats, warriors, maidens and ordinary people.

A ring of security has been deployed in KwaNongoma and surrounding areas ahead of the official crowning of Zulu King Misuzulu kaZwelithini on Saturday.

Zulu cultural watchers and government sources said they expect areas near the Khangelamankengane Royal Palace, where the ceremony is scheduled to take place, to be heavily guarded.

The new king will be officially crowned when he enters the kraal. A date for the coronation by the government — to be presided over by President Cyril Ramaphosa — is yet to be decided.

This weekend’s event is expected to be attended by thousands of people, including kings, traditional and political leaders, members of royal families from all over Africa and other parts of the world, diplomats, amabutho (warriors), maidens and ordinary people.

Barring a last-minute court interdict application — which legal experts say is unlikely to be granted — the ceremony is expected to go ahead smoothly, amid high tension.

The coronation follows several court and out-of-court dramas and intrigues involving members of the deeply divided Zulu royal family.

Tensions rose last Saturday when a faction of the Zulu royal family opposed to the ascendancy of Prince Misuzulu decided to hold their own coronation ceremony in the Enyokeni Royal House and “crowned” Prince Simakade Zulu — the late king’s eldest son, born out of wedlock — as the new Zulu king. Zulu tradition dictates that a king is crowned by entering the royal kraal, which Simakade was allowed to do.

The succession battle began in earnest shortly after King Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu died from a Covid-related illness in a KZN hospital on 12 March 2021.

The supposed crowning of Simakade and many other court and out-of-court disputes in the long-running battle for the Zulu royal crown have been playing out in the public domain, forcing Zulu people to take sides, especially in social network debates and arguments.

Visit Daily Maverick’s home page for more news, analysis and investigations

Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, the former IFP founder and leader who is the traditional prime minister of the Zulu nation, has loomed very large in these succession debates and battles, especially after the death of Zwelithini.
Buthelezi has been batting on the side of Misuzulu from the outset.

Mpumelelo Zikalala, a Durban-based legal expert, said: “We don’t expect a legal challenge to the coronation of Prince Misuzulu. If there is an urgent court application to stop the coronation, it will likely fail in court because the applicant will have to prove the urgency of the matter. The court has not granted these applications in the past, often citing that applicants had known about the upcoming event long before it took place and therefore had an ample chance to bring an application through the normal court process.

“Those who are not happy with Prince Misuzulu tried to bring an urgent court application against his presiding over Umkhosi WeLembe [the commemoration of King Shaka] and they failed. Perhaps they can only challenge his coronation after the ceremony and, even then, their chances are almost nil.”  

Zikalala said the purported “crowning” of Simakade had no “legal force or standing” because Simakade had written a letter acknowledging Misuzulu as the next Zulu king and previous court cases aimed at stopping him from mounting the throne had been thrown out by the courts.

Zakhele Ndlovu, an independent political analyst attached to the University of KwaZulu-Natal, said the fact that Western courts had to decide who the next Zulu king is, reflects badly on the Zulu royal family and the Zulu nation as a whole, as “this matter could and should have been mediated and a successor chosen without all the farce.

“The Zulu royal family and the Zulu nation should have sat down after the death of King Shaka and set a clear succession plan, because all the kings that have come to the throne are contested. They should have a clear succession plan like the Windsor royal family, where it is known that when Queen Elizabeth dies her son Prince Charles will take over and when he leaves, Prince William will take over. The Zulu family are washing their dirty linen in public.”

Ndlovu said the Zulu nation also had to decide who becomes the next prime minister of the nation because Buthelezi is too old.

“I don’t think this matter will lead to bloodshed about who becomes the king. I think the government will try and stop that from happening.

Prince Thulani Zulu, a spokesperson for the faction of the Zulu family that supports the coronation of Misuzulu, said on Thursday: “We are busy finalising things and we are hopeful that everything will go well without any glitches.”   

The ceremony will start on Friday when amabutho will go out to hunt a lion and leopard. The new king will mark his rule by entering the royal kraal. On Saturday, thousands of Zulus and guests are scheduled to sing, dance, make merry and feast in celebration of the crowning of the new king.

The event will be boosted by the participation of amabutho and Zulu maidens. Nomagugu Ngobese, the founder of Nomkhubulwane Institute, whose aim is to revive all Zulu cultural and social activities, including the virginity testing of young girls, said thousands of Zulu maidens will be part of the ceremony, especially on Saturday.

During the court tussles, Ngobese always maintained that Zulu kings are not determined by court papers.

“We have been saying that King Misuzulu is the rightful heir. We will be going to the Royal House to celebrate the crowning of yet another Zulu king, the pride of our nation. This ceremony, especially as it involves the invoking of the spirits of our ancestors, cannot be said to be complete without the presence of the Zulu maidens,” Ngobese said. DM 

A timeline of royal intrigues

1968: Zulu King Cyprian Bhekuzulu dies of natural causes and a regent, Prince Mcwayizeni, is appointed as the Zulu regent. Intrigues in the royal house come to the fore when a plot to poison Prince Goodwill Zwelithini — to prevent him from ascending to the Zulu throne — is discovered and he is spirited away to live with his relatives in rural Mpumalanga (then Northern Transvaal). 

September 1969: Zulu prince and frontrunner to the throne of the Zulu, Goodwill Zwelithini, marries Sibongile Winifred in community of property.

December 1970: Prince Goodwill Zwelithini is crowned as the new king of the Zulus. 

March 2021: King Goodwill Zwelithini dies in a Durban hospital from Covid-19 and diabetes complications.

April 2021: The official mourning for the Zulu king ends and the will of the late king is read to a meeting attended by members of the royal family. In the will, the late king nominates his wife as the regent of the Zulus. 

29 April 2021: Queen Mantfombi Dlamini-Zulu is buried in a private ceremony in KwaZulu-Natal after dying unexpectedly. 

May 2021: Queen Mantfombi’s will is read by Zulu royal family lawyers. In her will, she names her son as the successor to the Zulu monarch. This is accepted by some members of the Zulu royal family, while others reject it out of hand.  

2 May 2021: Queen Sibongile Dlamini applies for an urgent court interdict seeking to set aside the implementation of the late king’s will.

June 2021: Two of the late king’s daughters, princesses Ntombizosuthu and Ntandokayise, launch a separate court application challenging the validity of their father’s will and interdicting the process of installing the new Zulu king.

2 December 2021: Prince Mboniso Zulu, the late king’s half-brother, launches an urgent court interdict to prevent the process leading to the coronation of Prince Misuzulu as the new Zulu king.

11/12 January 2022: The Pietermaritzburg High Court hears arguments and counterarguments on various aspects of the Zulu royal family disputes. Judgment on the matters is reserved. 

13 August 2022: Prince Smakade is crowned by a faction of the Zulu royal family at the Enyokeni Royal House, but legal and Zulu tradition experts dispute the legality of his “coronation”.

20 August 2022: The day Prince Misuzulu is expected to be crowned as the Zulu king at Khangelamankengane Royal House. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Dave Gould says:

    This sounds like an amazing ceremony. Makes it even nicer to know that a leapord and lion have to die, and the whole piss-up will be funded by us taxpayers. All in the name of culture.

    • Alan Paterson says:

      Don’t knock culture. We colonialists used to burn witches as a cultural thing, Happened a few centuries ago, however.

    • Malcolm Mitchell says:

      I appreciate “culture” which can be variably interpreted, but why in this day and age does he need to kill a lion to prove that he is King? If culture is so important he should not be wearing “alien” clothes such as shirts, trousers and jackets and also driving a motor car!!

  • Dennis Bailey says:

    This sham of a royal house needs to start paying its own expenses.

    • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

      Love King M’s watch, T, and sun glasses. Its so great to see “Proudly Zulu” products on display.

      On a more serious note, I remain extremely concerned that an outdated, misguided sense of superiority and overt racist tribalism by Zulus is warping our democracy and empowering political criminality – to the detriment of everyone (yes @Zulus – everyone does include you)

  • Johan Buys says:

    Is this 2022 or 1422? Along with the free pass from foot & mouth disease restrictions given to livestock intended for ritual purposes, you’d think we are a country run by kings, chiefs and witch doctors. There are millions of South Africans living on tribal trust land larger than Kruger Park but counted as owning nothing. No security of tenure, no ability to raise finance for agriculture : basically a feudal system. In 2022, in a democracy, with our constitution : laughable were it not so devastating. End traditional leaders’ undue influence and power or remain a backwater!

    • virginia crawford says:

      No room for monarchs and their extraordinary power and wealth in a modern republic! People should fund these kings if it’s so important. Taxpayers do not pay taxes for this kind of medieval show that has a limited audience anyway.

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted


This article is free to read.

Sign up for free or sign in to continue reading.

Unlike our competitors, we don’t force you to pay to read the news but we do need your email address to make your experience better.

Nearly there! Create a password to finish signing up with us:

Please enter your password or get a sign in link if you’ve forgotten

Open Sesame! Thanks for signing up.

We would like our readers to start paying for Daily Maverick...

…but we are not going to force you to. Over 10 million users come to us each month for the news. We have not put it behind a paywall because the truth should not be a luxury.

Instead we ask our readers who can afford to contribute, even a small amount each month, to do so.

If you appreciate it and want to see us keep going then please consider contributing whatever you can.

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options

Daily Maverick Elections Toolbox

Download the Daily Maverick Elections Toolbox.

+ Your election day questions answered
+ What's different this election
+ Test yourself! Take the quiz