A WILL AND AWAY
But court action challenging king’s will set to go ahead
Prince Misuzulu Zulu has been named as the new Zulu king. But proceedings at the KwaKhangelamankengane royal palace, where the late Queen Mantfombi’s will was read out, descended into chaos on Friday night. The queen, who was acting as regent following the death of King Goodwill Zwelithini, bequeathed the monarchy to Prince Misuzulu, her first son. Some members of the royal family immediately objected.
● The Zulu royal family last night put up a united front, with traditional prime minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi announcing the late King Goodwill Zwelithini’s siblings have pledged their support to the monarch King Misuzulu kaZwelithini.
Buthelezi told journalists that a truce was reached at a family meeting called by Queen mother MaZungu yesterday morning.
This after Queen Sibongile Dlamini and her daughters, princesses Ntandoyenkosi and Ntombizosuthu launched legal action.
"Queen Mavis gathered members of the family on Saturday morning. During this meeting Princess Thembi and Prince Mbonisi pledged their loyalty and support for his majesty King Misuzulu KaZwelithini," said Buthelezi.
Prince Mbonisi and Princess Thembi have been involved in a public spat with Buthelezi over the succession.
However the Sunday Times understands that the legal action to challenge King Zwelithini’s will will go ahead, as no instruction had been given to lawyers to withdraw the case.
When asked about legal action brought on by Queen Sibongile and the princesses, including the objections from royal family members raised on Friday night when the prince was announced heir, Buthelezi said: "As far as the family is concerned the King is already on the throne."
Tensions were high in the royal family on Friday night, with King Misuzulu whisked from the Kwakhangelamankengane royal palace to a secret location after the will of his mother, Queen Mantfombi Shiyiwe Dlamini Zulu, was read out, naming him as king. However he was spotted back at the palace yesterday.
Queen Mantfombi was named as successor in the will of her husband, King Goodwill Zwelithini. She died on April 29, six weeks after her husband’s death on March 12.
After King Misuzulu’s name was announced on Friday night, another of King Zwelithini’s sons, Prince Thokozani Zulu, tried to question the process followed in selecting the successor.
King Zwelithini’s sister, Princess Thembi, told the Sunday Times yesterday: “Even before the reading of the will, I spoke to my children and the royal house, and told them to open up their hearts and minds. I said we have to support whoever is called to take over, regardless of where they come from ... As long as he comes from the royal house.”
The assets the king left behind include millions of hectares of land controlled by the Ingonyama Trust, farms, livestock and several properties. Should the application succeed, it could annul Friday’s announcement.
King Zwelithini’s will states: “As regards to my successor to the throne, I hereby nominate and appoint SM Zulu identity number ...”
The next line reads: “Failing SM Zulu in 15 above, I hereby nominate and appoint [a blank].”
Failure to name a successor in the event that Queen Mantfombi could not take up the throne was a basis of an argument put forward by Prince Thokozani on Friday night.
In a letter dated March 23, Queen Mantfombi said: “After the untimely demise of … King Goodwill Zwelithini, the need to fill the position of the fallen king has arisen. It is to be appropriate and befitting of the great Zulu nation to bestow the honour given to me by his majesty to my son, Misuzulu Zulu.”
However, Prince Thokozani said the throne was not the queen’s to give. He even questioned her regency, asking if it had been made official according to law.
“The royal house should decide because the will did not say who should take over from the queen. The matter of the regency ... had to be gazetted. We wish to know if that was done,” he said.
While King Zwelithini’s will has been the basis of arguments for and against the throne being left at Kwakhangelamankengane royal palace, his daughters, Princess Ntandoyenkosi and Princess Ntombizosuthu, do not believe it was written and signed by their father. Through attorneys, the princesses sought the expertise of a forensic graphologist to compare the eight signatures on the will. The report, which forms part of the papers filed at the Pietermaritzburg high court, said two sets of signatures “have not been written/signed by the same hand being that of the late His Majesty the King Goodwill Zwelithini KaBhekuZulu”.
“Set one is a comparison of eight signatures purporting to be of King Goodwill Zwelithini in the will signed in 2016, set two are two signatures of the king — one from a dedication book signed in 2009 and his signature on a wine bottle dated 2010.”
The examination of the signatures was said to have found that “lots of lines and movements in the signatures of set one are extremely distorted ... not only [does] set one have lots of difference in comparison to set two, but none of the eight signatures in set one itself is corresponding with another one”.
In their affidavit, the princesses ask
I said we have to support whoever is called to take over, regardless of where they come from... As long as he comes from the royal house Princess Thembi, above
King Zwelithini’s sister
whether the signatures in the will are free of forgery and fraud. “The relief sought in this application is an interdict that prevents the execution of the will and testament until such time that a court of law determines whether the signatures appearing in the last will and testament are those of the late Isilo [King Zwelithini],” said the princesses.
But it is Queen Sibongile Dlamini’s court action that puts more pressure on the succession dispute. She argued that if Queen Mantfombi and King Zwelithini’s marriage was recognised only under the Customary Marriage Act, then the late queen, in terms of customs and practices, was not eligible to take the throne.
“Her customary union does not entitle her to the throne. Accordingly, she is not eligible to ascend to the throne as ibambabukhosi [regent] or a successor. All appointments, either as ibambabukhosi or the monarch must comply with the leadership act,” Queen Sibongile said. She said Queen Mantfombi’s path to the royal family was a consequence of her customary union.
At the centre of the queen’s argument are the terms of her marriage.
King Zwelithini’s disputed will states: “The notion of ‘in community of property’ is foreign to the African people — even governments prior to democratic dispensation legislated in the Black Administration Act of 1927 that unless there was no prior arrangement to the contrary between the intending couples at least 30 days prior to the wedding day, a civil marriage among black people was automatically out of community of property.” However Queen Sibongile has rejected the king’s assertions, saying: “I am now set up to be subjected to consequences of a marriage regime I did not choose to enter.”
She seeks to ask the court to affirm her marriage to King Zwelithini as a civil union in community of property that did not recognise other marriages, and to interdict any attempts to execute the will, as 50% of the property of Isilo belongs to her. Queen Sibongile said she did not seek to evict any of the remaining queens from their palaces.
Procedural law expert Llewelyn Curlewis believes that the dispute over the Zulu throne is far from over. He said ructions within the royal house would continue, at least until the high court finalises the application challenging the authenticity of King Zwelithini’s will.
“The issue regarding the possible fraudulency of the testament must first be established. If it goes in favour of the applicants, then it is as if there is no will, which means any suggestion of inheritance is then null and void.” This would, by extension, annul Queen Mantfombi’s will appointing Prince Misuzulu as the preferred king. However, if the court dismisses the application seeking to nullify King Zwelithini’s will, Queen Mantfombi’s will nominating Prince Misuzulu will remain valid, Curlewis said.
Her customary union does not entitle her to the throne. Accordingly, she is not eligible to ascend to the throne as ibambabukhosi [regent] or a successor.
Queen Sibongile Dlamini, above King Zwelithini's first wife