Zwelithini 'took away Misuzulu's birthright' when he named queen his successor

The Pretoria high court has reserved judgment in the battle for the Zulu throne

18 October 2023 - 21:40
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King Misuzulu kaZwelithini. File photo.
King Misuzulu kaZwelithini. File photo.
Image: Sandile Ndlovu

The birthright of King Misuzulu kaZwelithini to the throne of the Zulu nation fell away when his father, the late King Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu, named his great wife, Queen Mantombfi Dlamini-Zulu, as his successor, the Pretoria high court heard on Wednesday.

The legal representative for Prince Mbonisi Zulu, who is the uncle of King Misuzulu, argued that the royal family should reconvene to have an identification process of the rightful heir to the throne, stating that the coronation of King Misuzulu happened prematurely.

King Misuzulu became his father’s successor based on the “Great Wife” theory as his mother, Queen Mantombfi, was of royal descent, being the sister of King Mswati of Eswatini.

Mantombfi was, however, listed in King Zwelithini’s will as his successor. But the Pietermaritzburg high court had found his will irrelevant and instead found the late Queen Mantombfi’s will to take precedence as she had taken the throne after her husband’s death.

Advocate Thabani Masuku said this therefore meant King Misuzulu’s claim to the throne due to birthright falls away.

“That is where the whole birthright theory falls away because if the late king, who was the highest expert in the royal law, did not, in his will, assuming it’s valid, follow that custom by nominating the child who has been identified as a child born for the purpose of being a king, then we must ask ourselves is that theory really entrenched in our tradition?”

Masuku said when the king nominated his wife, he was deviating from the practice of Misuzulu’s right to kingship by birth.

“That points [out] the direction we should go. The king could never suggest that he didn’t understand traditions that governed succession. He understood it very well. All his sons, who are eligible for identification, were old enough to be identified or at least to be considered for identification as potential successors.”

The battle for the Zulu throne concluded on Wednesday as King Misuzulu’s half-brother, Prince Simakade Zulu, argued that he was the rightful heir to the throne.

Prince Mbonisi Zulu, who also applied to the court, argued that the process of the royal family identifying their rightful heir was not followed, yet President Cyril Ramaphosa announced Misuzulu as king.

Justice Norman Davis has reserved judgment.


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