Cyril Ramaphosa recognises amaRharhabe 'kingdom'

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President Cyril Ramaphosa (GCIS)
President Cyril Ramaphosa (GCIS)
  • In 2008, the Nhlapo Commission ruled that the amaRharhabe were not a kingdom.
  • The amaRharhabe took the Nhlapo commission to court over the decision and that ruling was set aside in 2016.
  • On Wednesday, the kingdom described the recognition as a befitting tribute to the tapestry of the amaRharhabe ancestry.

Thirteen years after the Nhlapo Commission on Traditional Leadership Disputes and Claims ruled that the amaRharhabe were not a kingdom, President Cyril Ramaphosa has recognised the amaRharhabe royalty.

In an official letter dated 25 May, Ramaphosa instructed Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to legalise the ruling.

Dlamini-Zuma communicated the decision in a letter addressed to the chairperson of amaRharhabe Royal Council, Inkosi Siseko Maqoma. 

Dlaimini-Zuma said the department had notified the government printing works to publish the decision in a Government Gazette and send a copy to the kingship.

"I have also informed the premier of the Eastern Cape provincial government about this development," she said. 

In 2008, the Nhlapo Commission ruled that the amaGcaleka were the rightful monarchs to rule over the amaXhosa kingdom, and not the amaRharhabe.

The amaRharhabe took the Nhlapo Commission to court over the decision, and the ruling was set aside in 2016.

READ | The mighty amaXhosa: A nation divided

On Wednesday, a jubilant amaRharhabe spokesperson and ANC member of parliament Zolile Burns-Ncamashe described the recognition as a befitting tribute and epitaph to the tapestry of the amaRharhabe ancestry, particularly King Mgolombane Sandile ka Ngqika, who died in action during the last "frontier war" of Ngcayichibi in June 1878.

He said that the recognition also served as a sign of victory for their legal team.

It will be inscribed in the historical annals that it was during the tenure of President Ramaphosa that the Kingship status of the amaRharhabe Kingdom was affirmed through the recommendations of Minister Dlamini-Zuma supported by Eastern Cape Provincial Government as led by Premier Mabuyane.
- amaRharhabe spokesperson and ANC member of parliament Zolile Burns-Ncamashe.

An emotional Burns-Ncamashe added: "This letter fulfills the wish of King Zwelonke Sigcawu who stood side by side with our late Queen Mother Noloyiso Sandile," Burns-Ncamashe added.

He said the recognition was the result of the courageous voices of the amaGcaleka Royal House, led by General Mgwebi and Nkosi Bambilizwe Xhanti Sigcawu.

The recognition comes as the amaRharhabe are still mourning the death of Queen regent Noloyiso Sandile, sister to late King Goodwill Zwelithini ka BhekuZulu, who died from Covid-19 in July 2020.

READ | AmaRharhabe Kingdom Queen Noloyiso Sandile dies of Covid-19

Her 28-year-old son Prince Jonguxolo Vululwandle Sandile ascended to the throne. 

AmaRharhabe kingdom spokesperson and MP Zolile Burns-Ncamashe said:

It is the Nhlapho Commission that attempted to downgrade our Kingship status and relegate us into an appendage of amaGcaleka whom we have always revered and recognised as our fraternal Kingship who hold nominal seniority in terms of our customary protocol. We however fought tooth and nail, typical of our forebears in the nine frontier wars, without being defeated in terms of human spirit.

"This letter by His Excellency President Cyril Matamela Ramaphosa is a confirmation of what Nhlapho and his handlers misunderstood," Burns-Ncamashe said.

"We never succumbed to the cowardice tactics of the Nhlapo Commission. We always maintained the true fortitude character and posture of being who we are, and that is the Rharhabe Kingdom. We refused to be defined through the lens of hypocrisy and ignorance, for ours is about human triumph over malicious adversity."

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