Son vs brother: AbaThembu king spat to go to court after premier’s endorsement

Acting AbaThembu King Azenathi Zanelizwe Dalindyebo with his new wife Ongezwa Zwedala.Picture: Yanga Soji
Acting AbaThembu King Azenathi Zanelizwe Dalindyebo with his new wife Ongezwa Zwedala.Picture: Yanga Soji

A faction of the AbaThembu has vowed to fight in court the recognition of Azenathi Zanelizwe Dalindyebo by the government as acting king of the nation.

Azenathi, the son of jailed AbaThembu king Buyelekhaya Zwelibanzi Dalindyebo has been officially recognised by Eastern Cape Premier Phumulo Masualle as the acting king of the nation. He takes over the throne from his father who is serving a 12-year jail term at the East London Maximum Correctional Centre, for arson, kidnapping, defeating the ends of justice and assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm. Azenathi was challenged into the acting position by his uncle, Mthandeni Mankunku Dalindyebo, the king’s younger brother. Nkosi Thanduxolo Mtirara, chairperson of the royal house for the kingdom of AbaThembu, a group opposed to Azenathi said they were disappointed about the premier’s decision.

“We got the news by email on Wednesday. We were very shocked. On Thursday we met to discuss the matter. But what surprises us is that the decision goes against the recommendations of the Tolo Commission, which said Mthandeni should be acting. We are very shocked and confused by what is happening. So we are still trying to make sense of it all,” Mtirara said.

In a letter from the premier addressed to Thandisizwe Mtirara, the leader of Azenathi’s group, titled, “recognition and approval for the appointment of Azenathi, son of his majesty king Zwelibanzi Dalindyebo as acting king AbaThembu,” Masualle said he approved the appointment of Azenathi in accordance with Section 21 (2) b of the Traditional Leadership and Governance Framework Act 2003 with effect from February 8. Azenathi was installed as acting king of AbaThembu on November, 25.

The premier stated that Azenathi’s appointment was reviewable yearly “until there is finality on the AbaThembu kingdom issues”.

“I hope this decision will provide an opportunity for the Dalindyebo kingdom to resolve all outstanding disputes, stabilise it and return to its former glory,” Masualle said.

But Thanduxolo Mtirara was not impressed by the premier’s decision.

“We are still planning to go to court as we have said before but we are still in discussion and revisiting the processes we have undergone so far before we finalise anything. But I can tell you that the decision by the premier really disappointed us. We cannot run away from that. What makes it worse and confusing is that the decision of the Tolo commission has never been challenged or set aside. We don’t know the basis of this decision by the premier.”

Contacted for comment, acting king Azenathi referred queries to Nkosi Jongibandla Ngonyama, his chief of staff.

“If there are winners, we are all winners. The problem was not with AbaThembu in general but a few members of the family. So AbaThembu have won at the end of the day. AbaThembu had already spoken when they installed him in November 25. This is his [Azenathi] birthright. He is not appointed. We knew that this was going to be the outcome except some family members who wanted to cause trouble,” Ngonyama said.



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