King­ship tus­sle af­fects kin­ship

The abaThembu royal fam­ily is di­vided over who should stand in for the na­tion’s jailed king – his son or his brother?

CityPress - - News - LUBABALO NGCUKANA lubabalo.ngcukana@city­press.co.za

Barely a month af­ter mem­bers of the abaThembu royal fam­ily ap­pointed Mthandeni Dalindyebo as act­ing king, an­other group in the royal fam­ily has en­dorsed his nephew, Azenathi, for the same po­si­tion. This thwarts any prospects of unity in the king­dom of jailed monarch Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo.

There are now two act­ing abaThembu kings, ap­pointed by two fac­tions of the Ngan­ge­lizwe royal fam­ily. Mthandeni (47) is the king’s younger brother, who was rec­om­mended by the Tolo Com­mis­sion on Tra­di­tional Lead­er­ship Dis­putes and Claims as the right­ful per­son to take the king’s place. Azenathi (24) is the king’s el­dest son. Last week, Azenathi spoke for the first time of the im­passe while ad­dress­ing a meet­ing of abaThembu in KwaZulu-Na­tal. He said that since he was the heir ap­par­ent, he should be the act­ing king.

He re­minded the au­di­ence that he had re­ceived the bless­ings of his jailed fa­ther, the royal fam­ily and the abaThembu’s na­tional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee lo­cated in KwaZulu-Na­tal and other prov­inces. How­ever, he adopted a rec­on­cil­ia­tory tone in his speech, call­ing on his un­cle Mthandeni to unify the fam­ily.

The ten­sion within the abaThembu na­tion was pre­cip­i­tated by the in­car­cer­a­tion of con­tro­ver­sial king Buyelekhaya, who is serv­ing a 12-year sen­tence at East Lon­don Cor­rec­tional Cen­tre in the East­ern Cape. His crimes in­clude ar­son, kid­nap­ping, as­sault with in­tent to cause griev­ous bodily harm and de­feat­ing the ends of jus­tice.

Mthandeni also broke his si­lence af­ter be­ing ap­pointed as act­ing king by fam­ily mem­bers on Oc­to­ber 21, dur­ing a meet­ing of the Ngan­ge­lizwe royal house, which has the au­thor­ity to deal with the in­ter­nal af­fairs of the king­dom of abaThembu.

At­tend­ing that meet­ing were Nkosi Zwelo­dumo Mti­rara and his cousin, Nkosi Than­di­s­izwe Mti­rara. They came on be­half of the fac­tion en­dors­ing Azenathi. At the meet­ing, which took place – in ac­cor­dance with abaThembu cus­tom – at the jailed king’s home at Bum­bane Great Place, near Mthatha in the East­ern Cape, both men reg­is­tered their op­po­si­tion to Mthandeni’s ap­point­ment.

Zwelo­dumo claimed to rep­re­sent “the core” royal fam­ily, which wanted to re­spect the jailed king’s di­rec­tive to have his son suc­ceed him as in­terim leader.

He said plans were afoot for Azenathi’s coro­na­tion cer­e­mony to be held on Novem­ber 25 at Bum­bane.

“Azenathi is the only one who can act in his fa­ther’s place. This de­ci­sion was made by the core royal fam­ily, which in­cludes the sib­lings of the king and the king himself,” he said.

“Other peo­ple, in­clud­ing those who ap­pointed Mthandeni, are just ex­tended fam­ily mem­bers.”

Zwelo­dumo ac­cused Mthandeni’s sup­port­ers of want­ing to de­throne the king. He re­ferred to a let­ter the group had writ­ten to Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma in 2012, in which they listed a num­ber of griev­ances and called on the pres­i­dent to with­draw the cer­tifi­cate of recog­ni­tion for the king.

“This has been part of their long-term plan to re­move the king and put in their own per­son. We can­not al­low that,” he said.

“In Oc­to­ber last year, the king – sup­ported by the core royal fam­ily, chiefs of abaThembu and the en­tire na­tion – ap­pointed Azenathi as act­ing king. But they come and hi­jack the pro­cesses and ap­point their own act­ing king.

“That is why we do not recog­nise Mthandeni as act­ing king. On Novem­ber 25, we will in­stall Azenathi to act on his fa­ther’s be­half.”

Zwelo­dumo de­scribed the Oc­to­ber 21 meet­ing as a “farce”, say­ing he al­most came to blows with his rel­a­tive, Nkosi Than­dux­olo Mti­rara, who was chair­ing the pro­ceed­ings. This was de­nied by Than­dux­olo, who leads the Mthandeni fac­tion and is chair­per­son of the royal fam­ily of the king­dom of abaThembu. He cau­tioned against ef­forts to in­au­gu­rate Azenathi be­fore the state of­fi­cially recog­nised him. “We have ap­pointed Mthandeni as act­ing king, but have not in­stalled him. We are wait­ing for govern­ment to recog­nise him as the le­git­i­mate act­ing king,” said Than­dux­olo. “Ac­cord­ing to our cus­tom, one does not in­stall an act­ing king. What if Azenathi is not recog­nised by govern­ment and they [his sup­port­ers] have al­ready in­stalled him?” Than­dux­olo lam­basted Azenathi’s sup­port­ers. “They have no busi­ness in­ter­fer­ing in our is­sues. They are in KwaZulu-Na­tal un­der King Good­will Zwelithini. We don’t need their sup­port on our is­sues,” he said. Than­dux­olo said if the other group went ahead with the coro­na­tion cer­e­mony for Azenathi, they would “just be throw­ing a party”, which was not recog­nised by abaThembu cus­tom. He said Mthandeni re­mained “the only act­ing king of abaThembu”. Zwelo­dumo said they were un­happy with the Tolo Com­mis­sion, which deter­mined on Oc­to­ber 13 that Mthandeni be act­ing king, say­ing it showed bias. Both fac­tions have in­di­cated their in­ten­tion to take the bat­tle to court. Mamkeli Ngam, spokesper­son for the de­part­ment of co­op­er­a­tive gov­er­nance and tra­di­tional af­fairs, could not be reached for com­ment.

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PHOTO: SIPHELELE NKETO

ROYAL DE­CREE AbaThembu King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo favours his son, Azenathi, to act as monarch in his ab­sence

Act­ing abaThembu king Mthandeni Dalindyebo

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