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Buthulezi refuses to backtrack on King Misuzulu’s Eswatini trip, but insists he serves at ‘His Majesty’s behest’

Buthulezi refuses to backtrack on King Misuzulu’s Eswatini trip, but insists he serves at ‘His Majesty’s behest’
Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi in Durban on 29 October 2022. (Photo: Gallo Images / Darren Stewart)

Prince Mangosuthu Buthulezi insists he is not trying to challenge Zulu King Misuzulu kaZwelithini, but he has refused to back down after the king’s staff denied his claim that the king sought medical treatment in Eswatini.

Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, the founder and emeritus president of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) and traditional prime minister of the Zulu nation, has denied that there is an irreparable rift between himself and Zulu King Misuzulu kaZwelithini.

In a lengthy statement issued on Tuesday afternoon, Buthelezi was scathing in his attacks on the Zulu king’s newly appointed spokesperson, Prince Africa Zulu, and other unnamed political enemies.

Buthelezi said he was hurt that these detractors are ensuring that “I am now being projected as an enemy of the Zulu Nation and our King”.

The relationship between Prince Buthelezi and King Misuzulu deteriorated after King Misuzulu was officially crowned in October 2022 after winning a bruising Zulu royal succession contest.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Feud between King Misuzulu and Buthelezi is ‘at a point of no return’

In that succession race, Prince Buthelezi stood firmly behind the then Prince Misuzulu and backed him to take over after former King Zwelithini kaDinuzulu died in March 2021.

Like any other family, there will be disagreements on matters from time to time. That is normal.

The relationship seems to have broken down after the appointment of the new Ingonyama Trust Board. Ingonyama controls about 29.67% of the land in KwaZulu-Natal, which is equivalent to 28,000 square kilometres.

Buthelezi was keen to have long-serving chairperson Judge Jerome Ngwenya continue in his position but King Misuzulu put forward the name of Inkosi Thanduyise Mzimela for the position, angering Buthelezi.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Zulu King Misuzulu denies tensions with Buthelezi, but signs of strain are emerging

Many saw the weekend’s incidents, in which Buthelezi and the king issued statements contradicting each other over the king’s health or whether he had been admitted to hospital in Eswatini, as an example of the ongoing rift. Buthelezi had said the king was receiving treatment at a hospital in Eswatini, which the king’s spokesperson denied.

Zulu King Misuzulu KaZwelithini enters the kraal in Kwakhangelamankengane, Nongoma, on 20 August 2022. (Photo: Gallo Images / City Press / Tebogo Letsie)

On Tuesday, Prince Buthelezi maintained that as the traditional prime minister of the Zulu nation, he was duty-bound to issue a statement over the weekend, especially if he’d received news that the king was not well.

The assertion by Prince Africa that His Majesty is in eSwatini to visit his uncle, His Majesty King Mswati III, is a blatant lie.

“I wish to clarify the constant speculation that there is a rift between myself and His Majesty the King, and that I acted in malice by making the announcement about his health. Like any other family, there will be disagreements on matters from time to time. That is normal. But there is certainly no growing rift between myself and His Majesty.

“As a Nation, our King’s health and well-being should always be our main concern. I communicated the news about His Majesty having taken ill without embellishment or ill-will. This is also not without precedent,” Buthelezi said.

He then turned his attention to Prince Africa Zulu, the king’s spokesperson, accusing him of lying and being disrespectful and condescending to himself and to the Zulu king.

“What Prince Africa is not telling the Nation is that he approached the Swazis – in particular HRH Prince Vumile – asking them to assist so that His Majesty could leave KwaZulu-Natal at night, to urgently seek medical attention in eSwatini.

“The assertion by Prince Africa that His Majesty is in eSwatini to visit his uncle, His Majesty King Mswati III, is a blatant lie. His Majesty King Mswati III was not in eSwatini when His Majesty arrived, nor has he returned,” he said.


Prince Buthelezi also poured cold water on the KZN ANC’s effort to mediate between himself and King Misuzulu by appointing former health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize to address the issues.

“Why then must a political party now seek to mediate a non-existing feud, when the Royal Family can resolve its own internal matters, if such matters arise? And why do matters of the Ingonyama Trust arise now? Such conflation of issues is rather malicious. I have been at pains throughout my career to separate politics from traditional matters.

“I continue to serve at His Majesty’s behest, as I have done for almost seven decades under two Kings before him. A role that I have dedicated my life to. A role which has come to define my life,” he said. 

Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi at the official opening of the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature at Oval Cricket Stadium in Pietermaritzburg on 23 February 2023. (Photo: Gallo Images / Darren Stewart)

The KZN ANC said it noted Prince Buthelezi’s comment but it will stand by its earlier statement in which it said it wishes for a speedy reconciliation of differences between Prince Buthelezi and King Misuzulu to avoid a situation where their Zulu subjects are forced to take sides.

Bheki Mtolo, KZN ANC secretary, told Daily Maverick: “As the African National Congress in KwaZulu-Natal we have noted your request for our comment as a response to the latest statement issued by Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi.

“As the ANC in KZN, we stand by our initial statement. And at this stage, we have no comment to make. Safe to say, we are comforted by the fact that His Majesty Isilo (King) Misuzulu is alive. May he continue to lead all of us equally and unite the people of this province,” Mtolo said.

Xolani Dube, a Durban-based political analyst, said he believed that the relationship between Buthelezi and the king has reached a point of no return and it is inevitable that one of them will have to stand down from their position. DM


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