The battle between father and son in the AbaThembu royal household looks far from over as neither side is willing to concede defeat – while government remains tight-lipped on who it recognises as the king.
This week saw a power play move by AbaThembu King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo against his son and acting king Azenathi Dalindyebo, in what could be seen as “check” in a chess game before a “checkmate”.
The controversial king, who was released from prison in December last year, has managed to unify behind him some of the most influential players in the AbaThembu kingdom as he tries to cement his authority.
READ: Dalindyebo snubs heir
One of the significant players is the Mvezo chief, Nkosi Zwelivelile Mandla Mandela, who has previously had a number of public spats with the monarch.
This week, Mandela and various other senior traditional leaders who had gone as far as writing to former president Jacob Zuma to have Dalindyebo dethroned and jailed, rallied behind him.
City Press understands that the senior houses of AmaDlomo, the ruling clan, met behind closed doors at Nkululekweni, the private residence of the king in Mthatha, to chart a way forward.
Among those present at the historic meeting was Zanemvula Matanzima, the king of Western Thembuland. In the past, Dalindyebo fought vigorously with Western Thembuland leaders, arguing that they should be under his rule instead of seeking independence.
Nkosi Thanduxolo Mtirara, chairperson of the Ngangelizwe royal family, which previously called for Dalindyebo to be dethroned and arrested, was instrumental in this week’s meeting, which reaffirmed that the king should occupy his rightful place.
Mtirara confirmed that a meeting had taken place, but said it was decided that the contents of the meeting would not be divulged. He referred all questions to Mandela.
On Wednesday, Mandela wrote: “Today was a day of joy and happiness as the AbaThembu royal families gathered at the king’s residence in Mthatha for a historic meeting following a long period of acrimony. The meeting follows the release of the AbaThembu king, His Majesty BZ Dalindyebo.
"The Madibas agreed to put all disagreements and squabbles in the past and resolved to deal with all matters that may arise in future as internal matters and not in the public domain.
“It was truly a beautiful occasion and all the royal families are united behind the AbaThembu king and are keen for him to take up his rightful place on the throne.”
Mandela could not be reached to elaborate further.
In the past few weeks, the AbaThembu nation made headlines as the AmaDlomo royal family, which supports Azenathi, and the Ngangelizwe royal family, which supports Dalindyebo, were at each other’s throats.
In March Dalindyebo stormed into the Bumbane Great Place, the residency of the AbaThembu king about 50km from Mthatha and currently occupied by Azenathi, in the early hours of the morning armed with an axe.
Azenathi fled the Great Place, sustaining injuries in the process.
He opened an assault case against his father, who was arrested and briefly appeared at the Mthatha Magistrates’ Court, where he was released on warning and told to appear in court on June 1. Azenathi also obtained a protection order against his father, preventing him from setting foot at the Great Place.
Dalindyebo shocked many two weeks ago when he disowned Azenathi as his son and demanded a DNA test to prove he is his father. Azenathi responded by saying he would go for a DNA test if all six of the king’s children did the same.
As the game of chess between father and son continues, more surprises are in store, with possible court battles, including the one set for tomorrow at the Mthatha Magistrates’ Court.
Azenathi’s spokesperson, Nkosi Dumisani Mgudlwa, told City Press on Friday that the AmaDlomo royal family had called a meeting for June 12. He said the upcoming meeting was meant to cement Azenathi’s place at the helm of the nation.
Mgudlwa played down the “historic meeting”, saying it was a meeting of friends.
“We don’t know about the meeting that took place at Nkululekweni. We were not invited. There it was the so-called Ngangelizwe royal family.
"But remember, the only royal family that is working at the Bumbane Great Place is the AmaDlomo royal family, which is chaired by Thandisizwe Mtirara, who was also not invited to that meeting. I think it was just people who are friends with Zwelibanzi [Dalindyebo].”
Makhaya Komisa, spokesperson of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC Xolile Nqatha, said they would not comment at this stage.