King vs King: Azenathi takes on his father for the right to rule

AbaThembu acting King Azenathi Dalindyebo flanked by senior traditional Nkosi Dumisani Mgudlwa (left) and his uncle Prince Mankunku Dalindyebo (right) at Bummbane Great Place following a meeting of abaThembu Picture: Lubabalo Ngcukana
AbaThembu acting King Azenathi Dalindyebo flanked by senior traditional Nkosi Dumisani Mgudlwa (left) and his uncle Prince Mankunku Dalindyebo (right) at Bummbane Great Place following a meeting of abaThembu Picture: Lubabalo Ngcukana

A group belonging to the abaThembu nation based in Msinga, KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), has thrown its weight behind acting King Azenathi Dalindyebo to continue as head of the kingdom.

This despite King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo, who is Azenathi’s father, preferring one of his wives, Queen Nokwanda, to take over the reins as regent.

Tensions between Dalindyebo and his son were laid bare a day after the king was released from prison last year, when he refused to see Azenathi, who had visited him at his Nkululekweni private residence in Mthatha, Eastern Cape.

On Thursday, Azenathi called a meeting of the entire abaThembu nation, which included the amaDlomo (the core royal family), iinkosi (traditional leaders) and abaThembu in general, to discuss the way forward.

Dalindyebo and those seen as being close to him did not attend.

A number of abaThembu leaders who attended the meeting at Bumbane Great Place, which is being occupied by Azenathi and his royal council, said they supported Azenathi’s leadership because it had brought stability to the nation.

Vusi Mvelase, chairperson of the abaThembu in Msinga, criticised the amaDlomo for bringing the nation into disrepute and called for Azenathi to continue as acting king or be appointed permanently as king, a statement that is sure to further divide the nation as Dalindyebo still enjoys support within abaThembu.

“As abaThembu in KZN, we wish that you [Azenathi] continue as king because we have seen the great work you have done in bringing stability to the nation.

“People hate us in KZN because of our allegiance to you as abaThembu. When we invited King Buyelekhaya to visit us in Msinga some years back, Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini had harsh words for us, saying that we were bringing a king from another nation to his kingdom. But it was because we wanted to show that, even though we are in KZN territory, our king is that of abaThembu,” said Mvelase.

He said they were aware of attempts to replace Azenathi and appoint Queen Nokwanda in an acting capacity.

“We came all the way from KZN because we are part of this nation. This is not a kingdom of amaDlomo, but of the entire Thembu nation.”

Mvelase called for amaDlomo to support Azenathi.

“For the first time, the kingdom of abaThembu is in good hands. Keep it up,” said Mvelase, directly addressing Azenathi. His words were met with applause.

Azenathi started his speech by hailing his father by his praise name, saying: “Ah! Zwelibanzi!”

He confirmed that he and a group of senior traditional leaders had been turned away at the gate when they tried to visit the king in Nkululekweni on December 24.

“I went to visit him in Nkululekweni, accompanied by senior members of the family. When we arrived, we were told that the king could not see us, but would give us a call when he was ready to see us, so we returned home,” said Azenathi.

He said nothing had changed regarding the resolution that was made before Dalindyebo went to prison – that, when he returned, Azenathi would hand back the reins.

“That resolution said I must act on his behalf. I put my studies on hold and acted as king to save the nation from a crisis.

“I am still acting king of abaThembu, acting on behalf Zwelibanzi. After he has been cleared of the conditions of his parole, he will resume his kingship.”

But Dalindyebo’s spokesperson, Prince Mthunzi Ngonyama disagreed, with Azenathi: “The king is allowed to resume his duties. Effectively, he is still the king.”

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