Zulu King Misuzulu kaZwelithini accuses government of curtailing his powers

By Zimasa Matiwane

King Misuzulu KaZwelithini is threatening to take the government to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), accusing it of trying to curtail his power through weakening traditional leadership with the intention of defrauding the Zulus of their land.

Addressing a meeting with amakhosi in Ulundi on Thursday, the king also accused the Ingonyama Trust Board, which he chairs, of sidelining him.

“I am here to report to you as your king and the chair of the Ingonyama Trust Board that we are in a delicate period, we are not getting along in that board, they are refusing to accept me.

“They want me out, but I don’t know how because I am the sole trustee, but now when I am chairing it, it seems there is a problem,” he said.

The king did not provide specific details except mentioning Ingonyama Trust CEO Vela Mngwengwe as the key driver.

“I am not here to scare you, but things are not going well,” said the king.

The king said he was saddened by tensions between traditional leaders and the government over the trust as “these were issues when my father was still alive and are still an issue now all because of land. They want to deal with us, they hate us for our land.”

He also called on amakhosi to follow through with what happened in KwaCeza in March, an incident where his traditional prime minister, Thulasizwe Buthelezi, was interrupted by ANC provincial chair Sboniso Duma while on the podium.

Another grievance the king has against the government and the ANC is the ending of his praise singer Buzetsheni Mdletshe’s contract. Mdletshe was on the payroll of the KwaZulu-Natal provincial government.

The king said he was prepared to call on international courts in his fight to protect the land of the Zulus.

“It’s painful that we are going into elections without these issues being discussed but if they [the SA government] can take Jerusalem [Israel] to the International Court of Justice, I can also open a case against them in the ICJ. No land will be taken under my reign, I’m going to my uncle (Mswati III), I’m going to tell him I’m opening a case,” he added.

Buthelezi later said in an interview with TimesLIVE that the king did not say he would open a case with the ICJ, rather that he would consider international mediation should the need arise in matters relating to the government and the trust.

International mediation, Buthelezi said, was an option in the 1994 agreement which was the basis for the creation of the Ingonyama Trust.

“Members of the board of Ingonyama Trust are not working hand in hand with the king to advance the cause of the Zulu people, therefore amakhosi resolved to request an urgent meeting with minister [of agriculture, land reform & rural development] Thoko Didiza and the board to understand why,” Buthelezi explained.

This article first appeared in Business Day on 23 May 2024.

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