Claims of kingship 'treason'

Canaan Mdletshe

Canaan Mdletshe

The executive council of the KwaZulu-Natal house of traditional leaders will meet today in Ulundi to discuss the 11 kings that have mushroomed in the province.

The amakhosi have already submitted claims to the Nhlapo Commission, demanding that they be declared kings and accorded the same status as the Zulu king, Goodwill Zwelithini.

The commission was appointed by President Thabo Mbeki in 2003 to look at the legitimacy of tribes and claims for traditional leadership.

Deputy chairman of the provincial house of traditional leaders, Mpiyezintombi Mzimela, said yesterday that they would be meeting today to look into the matter.

"I can't comment further until we meet and decide how we take the matter forward," Mzimela said.

On Thursday a tense meeting was held in Nongoma between Zwelithini, Mangosuthu Buthelezi - in his capacity as provincial chairman of the house of traditional leaders - and more than 300 amakhosi.

At the meeting, the amakhosi expressed concern on the matter, some calling the request by the 11 "treason".

They urged Zwelithini to declare war on the "new kings".

The 11 "kings" come from different tribes in KwaZulu-Natal. They include senior traditional leaders from the amaHlubi, Nhlangwini, amaNgwane, Mngomezulu, amaThonga, amaNguni and amaZizi tribes.

Meanwhile, IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi blamed the government for the growth of the amakhosi's claims.

In his weekly newsletter to the nation, Buthelezi said they were astounded by the claims.

"The origins of this admittedly bizarre episode lie in the government's failure to clarify the role and functions of traditional leaders and to resolve the broader 'Zulu question'.

"Many people now forget that the Zulu nation entered into the new constitutional dispensation with crystal-clear assurances pertaining to the status of the nation and the monarch.

"My reference point then was, and still is today, that the best way to build a united South Africa is by cherishing and respecting all its constituent parts," he said.

"If the Zulu Kingdom is to survive, it must have its respective powers and functions recognised in and safeguarded by a provincial constitution. Such a constitution must accommodate not only the present monarch, but the monarchy as a whole and its constituting structures."

Cultural expert Reggie Khumalo said: "This is politically motivated. It has nothing to do with culture or tradition.

"These chiefs will not get any kingship in the province unless they want to see bloodshed.

"Tribes like the amaHlubi must go back to Swaziland and claim their kingship. The amaThonga [Tembe] and amaNgwane can go to Mozambique and claim their status."