Africa

Zulu Queen names son as successor in her will: how rumors of poisoning and intrigue within family lead to unseen drama

The appointment of a new Zulu king leads to unseen scenes in South Africa. After the old king and queen died in barely two months, a battle erupted within the royal family over the succession. The queen designated her son as the new king in her will, but not all family members agree. That became clear when the will was read on live television last night.

Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini (72) died in March. He died of complications from diabetes. He had sat on the throne for nearly fifty years, making him the longest-reigning monarch in Africa. His most important wife – Queen Mantfombi Diamini-Zulu – was appointed regent and would remain so until she appointed her husband’s successor. But she died suddenly last week, at the age of 65.

The cause of death is still unclear, but there are rumors that she was poisoned. The queen is said to have been hospitalized a week before her death because she was suffering from an unspecified condition. The prime minister strongly denies the rumors. According to him, the queen had been ill for about two years, and relatives only suspected malicious intent.

Influential

In her will, the regent appointed her son Misuzulu Zulu Sinqobile kaZwelithini (46) as the new king. He is also the oldest living son of the former king. Although it is a ceremonial function, the position is nevertheless influential. There are 12.5 million Zulus in South Africa, which accounts for about a fifth of the population. Former president Jacob Zuma also belonged to the population group, which mainly lives in the eastern province of KwaZulu-Natal.

Misuzulu Zulu (second from right, with black shirt) has been designated by his mother as the new Zulu king
©AFP – Misuzulu Zulu (second from right, with black shirt) has been designated by his mother as the new Zulu king

When the queen’s will was read live on television, a commotion arose in the palace hall. One of the other princes in the family disputed the document. The sister of the former king, on the other hand, thought it was too early to appoint a successor. The security forces even had to get Prince Misuzulu to safety in front of the cameras.

Goodwill Zwelithini had a total of six wives. Mantfombi Diamini-Zulu was his third wife, but the most important because she herself was also of noble birth. Together they had eight children. Their son Misuzulu is said to be unmarried and only has one son.

The six wives of the late King Goodwill Zwelithini (second from left): Sibongile Dlamini, Buhle Mathe, Mantfombi Dlamini, Thandekile Ndlovu, Nompumelelo Mamchiza and Zola Mafu in 2013
©AFP – The six wives of the late King Goodwill Zwelithini (second from left): Sibongile Dlamini, Buhle Mathe, Mantfombi Dlamini, Thandekile Ndlovu, Nompumelelo Mamchiza and Zola Mafu in 2013.

Goodwill Zwelithini’s first wife – Sibongile Dlamini, the only one also legally recognized by law in South Africa – filed a lawsuit last week, along with her two daughters. She believes that legal marriage should take precedence over ceremonial marriages and claims that the signature on the deceased king’s will is false. The will that Queen Mantfombi Diamini-Zulu designated as regent should therefore be declared invalid, according to her.

She also believes that no successor should be appointed until the court has ruled on the case. Other members of the family also claim the throne and are said to have held secret meetings behind the regent’s back.

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