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Everything you need to know about the the new Zulu King

Name: Misizulu kaBhekizulu.

Age: 47 years old.  

Who is he? South Africa’s most eligible bachelor.

Okay, but who is he really? He is the newly installed King of the Zulu Kingdom, the 5th in over 200 years of the existence of the Zulu Monarchy, leading over 11 million people.

If he is the new king: what happened to the old King? Well, his dad King Goodwill Zwelithini, the longest-serving Zulu King, passed away about three months ago after a short diabetes-related complication.

So, the one King died and then his son ascended to the Crown? It isn’t as simple as that really…You see, when King Zwelithini died he left a will leaving Queen Mantfombi MaDlamini Zulu – the only one of his six wives to have royal blood – as guardian to the throne until a suitable King would be installed.

Tell me more… some within the Royal family were not very pleased with Queen Mantfombi MaDlamini Zulu’s placement as guardian of the throne as she was only the King’s third wife. This is where the drama really started – when the King’s 1st wife, Queen Sibongile Dlamini, claimed that her marriage to the King was the only legitimate of his six marriages. She went on to file a court application for 50% of the King’s assets.

Ooh, the drama… Yes, but there’s moreQueen Sibongile Dlamini’s other daughters, Princess Ntandoyenkosi Zulu and Ntombizosuthu Zulu-Duma, two of the King’s twenty-six children, filed another court case questioning the legitimacy of the will and asking the court to set it aside. A few days later they abandoned their court case after consulting other family members.

Back to the new King! Where doe he fit in all this drama? As soon as Queen Mantfombi was placed as regent, there were already murmurs that Prince Misuzulu would be the next King of the Zulu Nation. At this point, we had not seen much of the new King as our eyes were fixed on Queen Mantfombi Zulu who was at the helm of power for the Zulu Monarchy. Until tragedy hit the family.

What happened? The Queen died suddenly at the age of 65 years old. Some initial reports claimed that the Queen was poisoned but these were quickly rubbished for having no basis in truth.

OMG… The peak of the drama took place following the Queen’s Burial or ‘planting’ when her will was read in full view of the media, mourners and other royals from Swati, Xhosa and other monarchies. This is the first time the succession plan had been made public read out in public.  

Okay, but where is the drama there? At the reading, Prince Thokozani Zulu disrupted the proceedings of the Queen’s will which named Misuzulu the new Zulu King. His disruption split the family into two: those who supported his questioning of the will and those supporting Misuzulu’s appointment as King! Suddenly gun-wielding men were seen parading around the marquee, chasing away the media. At the same time, King Misuzulu was whisked away by security and taken into hiding. All this was happening in full view of the world.

What! Guns!? Yep… this succession is an important marker in South African politics and history. There is so much wealth and power that hangs in the balance.

But South Africa is not a monarchy so why does one family’s drama matter? True, the Zulu Monarchy is not a political institution but more a ceremonial monarchy that serves as a trustee to Zulu culture and tradition, the country’s largest ethnic group. But even more than that the family serves as a trustee to land and assets worth billions.

Billions?? How? Well… at the dawn of democracy, the late King Zwelithini together with Zulu Prime Minister, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, also the leader of the Inkatha Freedom Party negotiated for the Zulu Royal Family to get the Ingonyama Trust which puts ownership of about 26% of land in Kwa-Zulu Natal in the hands of the royal family. 

Oh?? So he is a bachelor you say? Well… kind of, it has been reported that he has just begun lobola negotiations to marry the mother of his two children. But don’t let that stop any hopes of marrying a King, as Zulu Kings are known to take on many life partners.