Court Invalidates Decision by Government to Recognize Zulu King

A South African court declared on Monday that the government’s recognition of the Zulu nation’s King last year was illegal, potentially igniting a new succession dispute.

The Pretoria High Court has ordered President Cyril Ramaphosa to launch an investigation into whether King Misuzulu Zulu’s turbulent accession was done in accordance with customary rules.

Following his father’s death, Misuzulu Zulu, 49, was named monarch for South Africa’s more than 10 million Zulus in 2021.

Following a heated conflict over the royal succession, his usual coronation had to be postponed for 15 months, until August 2022.

Misuzulu Zulu succeeded Goodwill Zwelithini, who died in March 2021 after a more than 50-year reign.

Prince Simakade, Misuzulu Zulu’s older brother, obtained the ruling, which stated that the presidential recognition of the Zulu monarch “was unlawful and invalid, and the recognition decision is hereby set aside.”

At a mega-party in October 2022, Ramaphosa presented Misuzulu Zulu with a massive framed diploma recognizing him as the ruler of the country’s richest and most powerful traditional monarchy.

King Zwelithini was survived by six wives and at least 28 children.

Misuzulu Zulu is Zwelithini’s first son with his third wife, whom he named regent in his will.

The queen, however, died abruptly a month after her husband, leaving a testament that named Misuzulu Zulu as king.

Zwelithini’s first wife claimed to be the only legitimate spouse, but she was unable to obtain a court injunction to prevent the coronation of the man whose name meant “to strengthen the Zulus.”

Zwelithini’s eldest son, who was born out of wedlock, filed an emergency lawsuit before Ramaphosa’s state ceremony, claiming he was the true heir.

The Zwelithini brothers also claimed the throne for another competitor.

The constitution of South Africa recognizes traditional rulers and chiefs, who wield enormous moral influence.

Rumours surfaced in July that Misuzulu Zulu had been poisoned following the unexpected death of a close adviser who died after consuming a hazardous substance. The claims were denied by the king.

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