Sunday Times E-Edition

‘I confronted king but never said I’d quit’

Insiders say tensions between Buthelezi and King Misuzulu are at boiling point, thanks in part to a spat over who should be in charge of the Ingonyama Trust


● Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi has revealed that he confronted King Misuzulu kaZwelithini about plans to replace him as traditional prime minister to the king and the Zulu nation as tension between the two over the control of the Ingonyama Trust board escalates.

Buthelezi was reacting to reports that he told King Misuzulu during a meeting in Durban on Sunday that he wanted to quit as traditional prime minister. But he has denied telling the king he wanted out.

“I mentioned to the king that I had received information that Jacob Mnisi, the businessman who was previously tipped to become the chair of the Ingonyama Trust board, had suggested to the king that he should appoint Prince Vanana of the KwaMinya Royal House as his traditional prime minister,” he said.

This, according to Buthelezi, he told the king in the presence of Prince Vanana and the king’s legal adviser. However, he got no reaction, with King Misuzulu neither confirming nor denying the information.

“I felt it important to raise this matter with the king specifically because it involves the man who previously was said to become chair of the Ingonyama Trust board.

“One can understand why there are concerns over the role that Mr Mnisi is playing in matters of the Zulu nation,” Buthelezi explained.

“I would have no regrets. But the simple fact is that I have not asked [the king] to release me from this position, because I told his majesty from the beginning that I would serve at his pleasure, for as long as he requires and for as long as I am able, for the sake of our kingdom and our nation,” said Buthelezi.

While Buthelezi denied that he wants to vacate his position, a letter he received from King Misuzulu on Wednesday has raised speculation about a relationship breakdown between the two.

The letter says Buthelezi attempted to force his preference for the board chair, using the legal battle against the king’s ascendence to the throne as a bargaining chip.

Royal house insiders had told the Sunday Times that at a meeting in Durban on Sunday, Buthelezi, 94, asked the king to convene an imbizo and announce that he was

I told his majesty that I would serve at his pleasure, for as long as he requires, for the sake of our kingdom and our nation

Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi

stepping down as prime minister. They said the king responded by telling Buthelezi that he and his delegation were wasting his time. The king then abruptly left the room. But Buthelezi has denied this.

Buthelezi is said to be furious about the king’s decision to appoint Inkosi Thanduyise Mzimela as chair of the Ingonyama Trust, which controls 30% of the land in KwaZuluNatal, replacing Jerome Ngwenya — who has been in the post for 23 years.

Buthelezi’s opposition to Mzimela as the new chair is clear from a leaked letter that the king wrote to his prime minister this week.

“I was informed by your son that for reasons unknown to me you persist in your view that the chairperson of the board should be someone with legal expertise — Inkhosi Mzimela should resign with immediate effect,” the king wrote.

His letter revealed that the issue of the board chair has become enmeshed with the legal battle in which Misuzulu’s coronation as the Zulu monarch is being challenged by rival members of the royal family.

The king referred to Buthelezi’s failure to sign an answering affidavit in the case supporting Misuzulu’s claim to the throne — apparently refusing to do so until the appointment of Mzimela was reversed.

“I was further informed that the signing of the answering affidavit on behalf of yourself is conditional on the aforesaid demands,” the king’s letter read.

King Misuzulu’s brother Prince Simakade, the oldest surviving son of the late king Goodwill Zwelithini, believes he is the rightful heir.

The king said in his letter that “as a result of this unfortunate impasse” over Mzimela, he was choosing a new firm of lawyers to represent him in the succession case. Previously, he and Buthelezi had been represented by the same firm, Strauss Daly.

Buthelezi is due to address Amakhosi on Friday on the issue of his falling-out with the king.

Buthelezi said nowhere in the letter does it say he had a preference for the board chair position.

On the matter of an outstanding affidavit, Buthelezi said the matter was sub judice and would be heard in court in the next few days, adding he had no intention of speaking about the case in the media.

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