AmaMpondo royals fight over kingship
The Eastern Cape’s amaMpondo royal family’s anger is building over government’s persistence in recognising Zanozuko Sigcau as king of their nation – despite a Constitutional Court ruling that his late uncle Mpondombini Sigcau had been the rightful monarch.
Stella Sigcau II, senior member and spokesperson of the amaMpondo royal family, wrote a letter – dated July 28 – to Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Pravin Gordhan and his Eastern Cape counterpart, Fikile Xasa, to complain that government has ignored a June 2013 Constitutional Court ruling that posthumously reinstated Mpondombini as king.
Mpondombini was deposed by President Jacob Zuma after the Nhlapo Commission on Traditional Leadership Disputes and Claims found he was not the rightful monarch, and recognised Zanozuko instead.
“It has come to the attention of the royal family that even though Nkosi Zanozuko Sigcau lost in the Constitutional Court in a unanimous decision ... the Eastern Cape government continues to invite him to their activities to attend and speak as a king of amaMpondo, and he is also accorded protocols due to a king,” wrote Sigcau II.
Zanozuko, Mpondombini’s nephew, who supports both the proposed N2 Wild Coast toll road project and the Xolobeni titanium mining project, is seen to be too sympathetic to government.
In the letter, the royal family told Gordhan and Xasa that continuing to afford Zanozuko kingship status was not only procedurally flawed but also infringed on the customary rights of the amaMpondo and undermined the Constitutional Court.
Xasa’s spokesperson, Mamkeli Ngam, acknowledged receipt of the letter.
“We have received the letter from the amaMpondo royal family, which alleges that the provincial government (not our department, as such) recognises Zanozuko as king. Our view is that this letter should have been addressed to the office of the premier because its content reflects that the family has an issue with the provincial government,” he said.
“We are, however, going to respond to the letter in due course as the department, and address the matters raised by the family at an appropriate stage.” Mpondombini was dethroned as king of Eastern Pondoland in 2010. He was the only king to be deposed – others were given “principal traditional leadership” status until their deaths.
Mpondombini first took Zanozuko, Zuma, the Nhlapo commission and six other respondents to the North Gauteng High Court, where he lost his case. He succeeded in the Constitutional Court, which ruled in his favour less than three months after he died.
Tensions between uncle and nephew were so bad at one point that Zanozuko fled his home in Flagstaff, Eastern Cape, and took refuge at a hideout in KwaZulu-Natal surrounded by bodyguards.
Gordhan’s spokesperson, Tsakani Baloyi, had not responded to questions by the time of going to press.
King Zanozuko Sigcau