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King Misuzulu kaZwelithini’s first challenge will be to unite his fractured royal family and end gender-based violence

King Misuzulu kaZwelithini’s first challenge will be to unite his fractured royal family and end gender-based violence
King Misuzulu kaZwelithini commits himself to lead his Zulu nation. President Cyril Ramaphosa is seated on the left, flanked by Swazi King Mswati III. (Photo: Phumlani Thabethe)

The new Zulu monarch’s aunt, Lindiwe Dlamini — a descendant of Prince Mavuso of Swaziland — says the king will have his work cut out for him as gender-based violence is prevalent in the Zulu nation.

King Misuzulu kaZwelithini’s aunt Lindiwe Dlamini was among the delegation from neighbouring eSwatini that attended Saturday’s crowning of the Zulu monarch.

Thousands of people flocked to Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on Saturday to witness King Misuzulu kaZwelithini being handed the certificate of recognition by President Cyril Ramaphosa, thus legitimising him as the only Isilo (king) of the Zulu nation.

The Zulu nation suffered a double tragedy when the late King Goodwill Zwelithini and his regent wife, Mantfombi Dlamini-Zulu, died a month apart in March and April 2021.

This set in motion heated succession battles within the Zulu royal family, with each faction naming its own king.

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King Misuzulu kaZwelithini at the Moses Mabhida Stadium during his certification as King of the Zulu nation on 29 October 2022. (Photo: Phumlani Thabethe)

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From left: President Cyril Ramaphosa, King Misuzulu kaZwelithini and Judge Isaac Madondo. (Photo: Phumlani Thabethe)

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King Misuzulu hands over the leopard skin with a spear to president Cyril Ramaphosa at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on 29 October 2022. (Photo: Phumlani Thabethe)

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From left: President Cyril Ramaphosa, King Misuzulu kaZwelithini, Queen Ntokozo ka Mayisela Zulu and Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi. (Photo: Phumlani Thabethe)

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Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi (centre) is given a lion skin at the king’s coronation. (Photo: Phumlani Thabethe)

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From left King Mswati III, Nkosazana Dlamini- Zuma, President Cyril Ramaphosa, King Misuzulu kaZwelithini and KZN Premier Nomusa Dube-Ncube. (Photo: Phumlani Thabethe)

However, Misizulu kaZwelithini was chosen as a successor to the Zulu throne by virtue of a will written by his late mother, Mantfombi Dlamini-Zulu, in which she nominated him to succeed the late king. Others in the royal family disputed the will, saying it was forged. Some even took the matter to court, where they lost.

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Inkunzi YoMama from kwaNgcolosi at the handing over of the certificate of recognition to King Misuzulu kaZwelithini. (Photo: Phumlani Thabethe)

King Misuzulu kaZwelithini’s elevation was made possible by the unwavering support he received from Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, founder of the Inkatha Freedom Party and prime minister of the Zulu nation, who used his considerable power to dismiss other contenders and stood behind King Misuzulu.

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Nolwazi Africa and her husband Sandile, from Johannesburg, attend the certification. (Photo: Phumlani Thabethe)

Among the thousands of people who gathered for the event were local and foreign dignitaries including eSwatini King Mswati III, former presidents Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma, President Cyril Ramaphosa and his deputy David Mabuza, Pravin Gordhan, Patrice Motsepe, Julius Malema, Ace Magashule and other political leaders from various organisations.

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Former president Thabo Mbeki attends the certification of the Zulu King Misuzulu. (Photo: Phumlani Thabethe)

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Former president of Botswana Ian Khama at the certification. (Photo: Phumlani Thabethe)

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Former president Jacob Zuma at the Moses Mabhida Stadium. (Photo: Phumlani Thabethe)

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Former health minister Zweli Mkhize attends the ceremony. (Photo: Phumlani Thabethe)

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Former social development minister Bathabile Dlamini with suspended ANC Secretary-General Ace Magashule. (Photo: Phumlani Thabethe)

King Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu was a long-serving king, reigning from 17 September 1968 until his death on 12 March 2021. His coronation was held in 1971 during apartheid. Most people from rural areas had no or limited resources and were unable to witness his crowning.

Emelinah Ndwandwe, an 83-year-old woman from Dube Village near eMpangeni, said she could not resist witnessing the coronation of the new king:

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IFP leader Velenkosini Hlabisa with Zabelo Hlabisa. (Photo: Phumlani Thabethe)

“I told myself that arthritis and my knees must forgive me… I cannot miss this coronation — as you can see for yourself, I am near the end of my life.

“We acknowledge Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi’s efforts of making sure that the rightful king is crowned… he stood by the truth till the last day.”

Royal address

King Misuzulu promised the Zulu nation he would pick up where his father had left off, and work closely with traditional leaders to reach the people from rural KwaZulu-Natal to ensure they were served with dignity.

“The throne is a covenant between departed and living and those who are still to be born. On the shoulders of the crown lies hopes, prayers of the living and, more importantly, those who are yet to be born in our nation.

“I understand that history has chosen me at this time when the Zulu and other nations are facing several challenges — among the challenges are poverty, unemployment, trust, diversity and leadership structures. Climate change and disasters, economic meltdown, food security, famine and diseases that not only destroy our people, but also our economies,” he said.

“It is my daily prayer to be a catalyst of the Zulus, South Africa and the whole of Africa. I believe that it is possible if we work together in our lifetime.”

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Gugu Nxumalo with Nomkhosi Maseko from Swaziland. (Photo: Phumlani Thabethe)

The stadium was packed with young maidens, groups of women and Zulu warriors showcasing their traditional attire and demonstrating their stick-fighting skills. Various hymns and songs were sung to praise the new king.

Nomcebo Mthethwa, a 26-year-old maiden from eSikhaleni in KwaNongoma, said the significance of the event was beyond words. She said could not express how she felt about being part of the celebrations.

“Zulu culture and Umkhosi woMhlanga (the Reed Dance) has given us inspiration and the courage to preserve ourself and not engage in sexual activities. My wish is for the new king to continue with Umkhosi woMhlanga and other cultural activities which will keep our legacy as the Zulu nation intact.”

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Bonginkosi Dlamini from kwaSwayimane bought photos of his king for R200 each. (Photo: Phumlani Thabethe)

President Ramaphosa handed the certificate of recognition to the king, which legitimised him as the new Zulu monarch. Ramaphosa said he wished the king well in his reign and hoped he would help the government to address the challenges facing the country.

“Today is a day of joy and unity… all the kings and chiefs are here with us today to witness this event,” he said.

The new king closed the ceremony by presenting gifts of lion and leopard skins, cows and more to Prince Buthelezi, Ramaphosa and King Mswati III. DM

Who is Misuzulu kaZwelithini?

  • Born on 23 September 1974 in Kwahlabisa to King Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu and Queen Mantombi Dlamini-Zulu, the daughter of the late Eswatini King Sobhuza II.
  • Educated privately at St Charles College in Pietermaritzburg.
  • Studied at Jacksonville University in the US, where he lived for several years.
  • Married to two wives, with three sons.
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