The succession battle for the Zulu throne has taken a twist with a new challenger to the heir presumptive, Prince Misuzulu.
The faction that is opposed to Prince Misuzulu has decided on a compromise candidate, Prince Buzabazi kaZwelithini, the fourth son of Queen Buhle KaMathe, the late King Goodwill Zwelithini’s second wife.
Some elders proposed that a new king be elected by vote at a meeting of the royal family and the government. This was rejected.
Prince Buzabazi’s name emerged during engagements of the family with former KwaZulu-Natal premier Willies Mchunu.
Mchunu heads a team set up by the government to resolve the continuing dispute over the Zulu throne after the death of King Zwelithini in March.
King Zwelithini’s sister Princess Thembi Ndlovu said Prince Buzabazi had been mentioned as a contender.
“Yes, Prince Buza’s name has been mentioned for the throne. I also heard this at the meeting but I cannot say what the reasons are because I have not attended some of the meetings … I cannot tell you how this name came about because it was raised when I was off sick,” she said.
The princess said she hopes the meetings will yield progress.
Mchunu said it has been a month of meeting different groupings of the family.
“There isn’t as yet visible progress. The discussions are continuing; the objective is to mediate and to make them talk to one another. That is what our programme is about,” he said.
“They have not yet met to speak face to face. We started on October 4 so it has just been one month.”
A member of the royal family who is an insider in the group that has “warmed” to the new contender explained why there is a new candidate.
“Truthfully, all Bayede’s [King Zwelithini’s] sons are eligible, precisely because we don’t believe that he picked any of them to succeed him,” said the insider.
“Our discussions have been that we can forgo the ‘firstborn son’ and the ‘great wife’s son’ and all decide who we believe can lead this family and the nation out of all of the princes, and an overwhelming majority believes that Prince Buza is the one.”
The insider said Prince Buzabazi’s qualities are integrity, respect, fairness and his close relationship with his father.
“Our intention is, let us put on the throne someone in whom we will not regret that decision in a year, a person who can protect the legacy that Bayede left, and with his name. There will be disagreements, of course. However, none will be based on him not being worthy of leading this nation.”
Prince Buzabazi joins two others who have been at the centre of the family divisions — the late king’s first born, Prince Simakade ka Zwelithini, and the first son of the great wife, Prince Misuzulu KaZwelithini.
The section of the family that supports Prince Misuzulu said the “process of who takes over is too far gone” for any changes.
“The reality is that there is an attempt to choose a king like we are choosing a chief. We told Willies Mchunu that is not how things work in the royal family. There will be no name discussions or voting for a king out of three names,” an insider said.
“The king of the Zulu nation is chosen by the father. Bayede made his wishes clear in the will and no amount of engagements will change that.”
The late king left a last will and testament naming his wife, Queen Mantfombi, who died in April, as regent.
In her will, she declared her eldest son, Prince Misuzulu, king. Other members of the royal family have disputed the authenticity of the late king’s will and are seeking a court interdict to halt the coronation of Prince Misuzulu.
A pro-Prince Misuzulu insider said that according to Zulu tradition, the throne is never empty. “It’s a piece of paper from government that makes you think the throne is empty. We have a king, we will go on and complete this process and government may or may not catch up, I don’t know. Even if they cut his budget, we will take care of him.”
Princess Thembi said: “The ultimate goal is to get us together to talk. I don’t believe anyone is against that.”