Who will be the next Zulu king?

2013-07-28 10:00

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King Zwelithini’s baby-making days seemed to end in 2005.

After all the excitement over the newest addition to the family of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, there’s no bun in the royal oven for South Africa’s largest royal household.

Those in the know about KwaZulu-Natal’s aristocracy say there is no sign of a royal baby for any of King Goodwill Zwelithini’s wives.

The youngest Zulu royal, Prince Nhlendla, turns eight this year.

He was born in 2005 to the king’s youngest wife, Queen Zola Mafu, amid much controversy.

The Queen fell pregnant in 2004 when she was just 17 years old.

She now lives in KwaKhangela Palace in Nongoma with the king’s third wife and fellow Swazi citizen, Queen Mantfombi.

King Zwelithini’s R63?million annual budget is the largest of all South Africa’s royal houses.

He has come under fire for his high-end lifestyle, which includes eight palaces, five of which are in the northern KwaZulu-Natal town of Nongoma, luxury cars, private jets and helicopters, designer clothes and expensive holidays.

Last year, the household’s chief financial officer admitted they spent R820?000 a month on the king and his entourage for various “kingly activities”.

Also last year, the provincial government spent R15?million renovating the king’s palaces and, this year, R5?million more has been set aside for their refurbishment and maintenance.

The king married his first wife, Queen Sibongile Dlamini, in 1969 and they have five children.

She lives in KwaKhethomthandayo Palace.

King Goodwill’s second wife, Queen Buthle MaMathe, lives in Dlamahlahla Palace and has three daughters. One of them, Princess Nandi, married Chief Mfundo Mtirara of the abaThembu royal household in 2002, but the marriage ended in divorce.

King Goodwill’s third wife is the only one who comes from royalty.

Queen Mantfombi Dlamini is the sister of King Mswati III and has eight children with the king, five of whom are boys.

Queen Mantfombi, who introduced her husband to his youngest wife, is credited with having worked with him to restore the annual reed dance ceremony, a practice followed in Swaziland, to Zulu culture.

Her KwaKhangela Palace is said to be the king’s favourite.

King Goodwill’s fourth and fifth wives, Queen Thandekile Ndlovu and Queen Nompumelelo Mchiza, are understood to have three children each.

Both have a boy and two girls.

Queen MaMchiza’s Enyokeni Palace is a cultural hub where many traditional Zulu ceremonies are held.

Besides these five palaces, the royal household owns other properties in Ulundi, Ingwavuma and KwaMashu.

Unlike the British royal family, there is no way of knowing who will succeed the 65-year-old King Goodwill, whom City Press understands has 32 children.

Prince Mbonisi Zulu, the king’s brother and royal spokesperson, would not discuss the matter, saying protocol was very important in the Zulu royal household and issues relating to “uMntomkhulu” (his highness) could not be spoken of lightly.

The heir has to be male, though.

City Press understands that Queen Mantfombi’s son Prince Misuzulu, born in 1974, is the strongest candidate because his mother is also of royal blood.

Traditionally, the king must have royal blood on both the mother and the father’s side.

Other Zuluwatchers believe Prince Lethukuthula, the only son of Queen Sibongile and born in 1970, is the legitimate successor because his mother is the king’s first wife and his parents had a civil marriage.

Professor Otty Nxumalo, the king’s former speech writer, said, in times past, succession decisions depended on whether the next king’s mother was of royal descent, or whether he was chosen based on seniority.

At other times, the kingship was taken by force in palace coups.

Meanwhile, Prince Thulani Zulu, the king’s brother, said: “It’s not something you pre-empt. Each king chooses to do things his own way.”

 » Talk to us: King Goodwill Zwelithini gets R63 million of your tax money a year. How much do you think he should get?

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