It’s a “a coup d’état”.
That’s how a senior abaThembu traditional leader described acting king Azenathi Dalindyebo’s continued reign without the blessing of his father king Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo.
Buyelekhaya has refused to meet his son since he was released from prison in December.
The latest squabbles in the controversial abaThembu kingdom follow a meeting of the amaDlomo royal family last week at which it was decided that acting king Azenathi should continue as king for at least another year, even though his father was out of jail.
Nkosi Thanduxolo Mtirara, chairperson of the Ngangelizwe royal family, whose members are opposed to Azenathi acting as king of abaThembu, slammed members of the amaDlomo royal family, led by Nkosi Thandisizwe Mtirara, for continuing to recognise acting king Azenathi, saying this was pitting him against his father.
Azenathi’s recognition as acting king is reviewable every 12 months.
Thandisizwe confirmed that the meeting took place.
It followed a general meeting of the abaThembu nation last month which supported Azenathi continuing to act as king.
Some even suggested that he take over permanently.
Thandisizwe said: “We informed him [Buyelekhaya] about the meeting but he did not attend. The other thing is that because of his parole conditions he has some restrictions. But acting king Zanelizwe [Azenathi’s praise name] was at the meeting and everything went well.
“Nobody has a problem with Zanelizwe continuing. He has been doing a good in uniting the nation. So, essentially, we are saying the [Eastern Cape provincial] government should continue recognising him as acting king of the abaThembu.”
Buyelekhaya’s spokesperson, Mthunzi Ngonyama, could not be reached for comment.
Thandisizwe is Thanduxolo’s younger brother and the two lead different groups within the royal family.
They do not see eye to eye about who should lead the nation.
Thanduxolo told City Press last week that those [including Thandisizwe] who had decided that Azenathi should continue as acting king were carrying out a coup and that what they were doing was against the traditions of the abaThembu.
“We are shocked that they have taken a decision about an acting king without involving the reigning king [Buyelekhaya] who is now out of jail and should be part of these decisions. How can they appoint somebody to act on his [Buyelekhaya] behalf without even giving him a say?”
But Thandisizwe argued that because of Buyelekhaya’s parole conditions, he was prohibited from assuming his duties as a king.
He was convicted to 12 years in prison for arson, kidnapping, assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and defeating the ends of justice.
He was released on December 23 last year after being granted a remission of sentence by President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Thandisizwe said because of the parole limitations the royal family had decided that his son should continue in his acting capacity.
“We don’t want a situation in which king Zwelibanzi [Buyelekhaya’s praise name] will break his parole conditions and be forced to return to prison. We support him respecting these conditions and wanting to keep a low profile.
“What is important is for him to be kept updated about developments in the kingdom, as we have done,” said Thandisizwe.
But Thanduxolo hit back saying that as traditional leaders they were not lawyers and therefore not experts on the conditions of his parole. He said their job was to follow tradition.
“Zwelibanzi has served his time and we cannot punish him further. So, now that he is out of jail, traditionally he is still the heir of amaDlomo. He is the heir of the kingdom of the abaThembu. There is no discussion on this matter. Azenathi should have handed in his resignation on the day his father was released,” said Thanduxolo.
He said there was tension in the kingdom after the king refused to see Azenathi following his release.
Azenathi – accompanied by a group of senior traditional leaders, including Thandisizwe – was turned away at the gates of Nkululekweni, Buyelekhaya’s private residences in Mthatha, without seeing the king.
“We don’t know if they are retaliating because they are embarrassed. But that is just speculation there could be other factors at play,” Thanduxolo said.
Makhaya Komisa, spokesperson of cooperative governance and traditional affairs MEC Xolile Nqatha, said the office of the MEC would not comment on internal abaThembu kingdom matters.