Scenes of commotion and chaos played out Friday night at a palace of the Zulu nation in South Africa after lawyers read out a will naming Prince Misuzulu Zulu as the preferred heir of late Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini.
King Zwelithini, 72, passed away March 12 after weeks of hospitalization for diabetic complications.
He was the longest serving king of the Zulu nation, the country’s largest ethnic group of 11 million people.
In his will, King Zwelithini named Queen Mantfombi Shiyiwe Dlamini Zulu, 65, one of his six wives to be the regent of the Zulu kingdom. But she suddenly passed on April 29, creating a power vacuum.
However, on Friday night, lawyers representing the kingdom, read out her will televised live at the KwaKhangelamankengane Royal Palace in KwaZulu-Natal province. Members of the royal family gathered to listen to the late queen’s wishes.
In the will, Queen Mantfombi, named her eldest son Prince Misizulu Zulu, as the preferred successor to King Goodwill Zwelithini. This infuriated, Prince Thokozani, one of the new leader’s step-brothers who stood up to question Prince Misizulu recognition. Although he was booed down by other relatives he continued to talk leading to commotion. The new leader and his immediate family were taken away by security officials to a place of safety.
King Zwelinthini had 28 children with his wives. Traditional analysts say although the late Queen Manfotombi was not his first wife, the Zulu nation paid her bride price to the Kingdom of Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) giving her succession rights.
She was of royal blood and her children would be chosen to lead. But others dispute this narrative. Some are questioning if the late king’s will had given the late Mantfombi powers to nominate a successor upon her death.
In South Africa, the position of a traditional king is largely ceremonial, but kings have influential roles in their communities especially the Zulu King whose kingdom receives an annually budget of nearly $5 million from state coffers.