An infuriated Prince Ahlangene Vulikhaya Sigcawu, who was recently announced as the king of amaXhosa, has hit back at SA National Defence Force Lieutenant-General Derrick Mgwebi, saying he had no business in the affairs of the Xhosa kingdom.
This comes as the battle for the kingdom intensifies, following the death of late king Zwelonke Sigcawu in November 2019.
Last week, Mgwebi, a military commander and traditional leader within the amaXhosa nation, wrote to President Cyril Ramaphosa raising a dispute over the protocol and processes followed to appoint Vulikhaya as king.
Mgwebi – who wrote in his capacity as the chairperson of amaGcaleka Royal House, a structure the new king says does not exist – called on Ramaphosa to not issue a certificate of recognition to Vulikhaya as the new Xhosa monarch.
In a meeting with traditional leaders of amaXhosa at Nqadu Great Place in Willowvale on Tuesday, where Vulikhaya had called 42 amaXhosa traditional councils and addressed them for the first time, the king warned that all those sowing divisions within the nation would be dealt with.
He told City Press shortly after the meeting that Mgwebi was not a senior traditional leader within the nation but occupied a junior position as a headman, which did not qualify him to speak on issues of the Xhosa kingdom.
“I don’t want to accept what you are saying about Mgwebi disputing this [kingship].
“He is not even a senior chief. He is a headman. Yes, [Mgwebi] was close to Zwelonke, [but] he must not think ... he can do as he wishes here. This is a home that belongs to other people.
“Where does he enter on kingship issues? That is why I don’t even want to entertain his so-called dispute. I don’t get anything in terms of what he is disputing.
“What is happening here is that there are people who think they can use government officials to destabilise everything we are doing as this family. We are aware of that and we are going to deal with that decisively,” said an irritated Vulikhaya.
The king is currently South Africa’s ambassador to Malawi, having previously served in the same diplomatic post in Ireland for five years.
On Monday, Mgwebi confirmed the existence of the letter to Ramaphosa.
“Yes, the letter is written to the presidency and the minister in the department of [cooperative governance and traditional affairs]. But the letter, more than about being on an issue of the name, is more on the issue of protocol and processes to get to a name.
“It’s not objecting to an individual. There is a protocol which governs the succession planning of the kingdom. If you don’t follow a protocol and you just go to a name then that becomes problematic,” said Mgwebi.
In the letter, which City Press has seen, he wrote: “On behalf of the amaGcaleka Royal House, which is a customary structure in terms of section 1 read with section 9(3) of the Traditional Leadership and Governance Framework Act No 41 of 2003 as amended, herewith categorically express our dispute to the appointment of Prince Ahlangene Sigcawu as the successor to King Zwelonke Sigcawu and henceforth request his excellency the president not to issue the certificate of recognition in terms of section 9(2)(b); instead to invoke the provisions of section 21 of the same act in resolving the dispute.
“Accordingly, the identification of Prince Ahlangene as envisaged by section 9(1)(a) was not done in line with the established traditions and customary practices of the House of Phalo.
“The old-age traditional practices and protocols were never observed in that. Even the late queen of amaRharhabe, Queen Noloyiso Sandile, never pronounced on his name. Similarly, even the current king of amaRharhabe has not yet pronounced on his name because internal customary processes have not been concluded as his very identification and authenticity has not been done in line with the customary practices.”