AmaZulu king fires spokesperson, Ingonyama Trust chair

AmaZulu King MisuZulu KaZwelithini has fired his spokesperson, Prince Africa Zulu, of the Onkweni residence.

The axe has also fallen on the board chairperson of the Ingonyama Trust, Inkosi Thanduyise Mzimela, a prominent traditional leader of the Mzimela clan in the northern KwaZulu-Natal.

In a letter seen by the Sunday World authored by the king and addressed, among others, to KZN Premier Nomusa Dube-Ncube, the king instructs Prince Africa to desist from speaking to the media on royal affairs. In the letter dated February 12, MisuZulu says that in the interim, the newly elected AmaZulu traditional prime minister, Thulasizwe Buthelezi, will serve as his official spokesperson on any matters pertaining to the throne.

“This letter serves as a final notice that I, king MisuZulu kaZwelithini, hereby terminate your appointment as the head of communications and stakeholder relations to my office and myself with immediate effect,” reads the king’s letter in part.

MisuZulu also stated in the letter: “I furthermore hereby revoke any powers granted to you by me in your role as my spokesperson and royal agent, which include the powers to ensure that such communication and stakeholder relations are managed officially and effectively on my behalf and on behalf of the royal family and the Zulu nation.”

Prince Africa’s unceremonious exit

The unceremonious departure of Prince Africa comes after he had various run-ins with the IFP on matters relating to the royal house and the Zulu monarch.

The IFP, because of the late party founder and AmaZulu traditional prime minister’s Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi’s proximity to the king, enjoyed cordial relations with the Zulu monarch.

Political opponents accused the IFP of leveraging the king’s influence to garner electoral support.

Meanwhile, Prince Africa, when he assumed responsibility as the king’s official spokesperson, sought to make the king apolitical, saying he should not be seen as favouring one political party against another because he was everyone’s king despite their political affiliation. He was viewed as a controversial figure who pulled no punches, challenging those who had enjoyed hegemony and were seen as close to the king. The late Buthelezi was also not spared from his wrath. At one stage, Prince Africa was quoted as having used an F word in a heated quarrel with Buthelezi.

The writing was on the wall when Rev Thulasizwe Buthelezi said last week, during his maiden media briefing, that all communication and correspondence from the king would now have to be sanctioned by his office. Buthelezi is an IFP senior leader and also the mayor of Zululand district municipality.

On the other hand, Sunday World also understands that Inkosi Mzimela, a known king’s confidant, was also shown the door.

The king last year recommended Mzimela for the position of head of the Ingonyama trust board before Thoko Didiza announced him to the important position. Mzimela is the ruler of tribal land in the northern parts of the province around Mthunzini, parts of Eshowe, and Obanjeni.

Mzimela created tiff between king and Buthelezi

It was his appointment that caused an irreconcilable tiff between the king and his once-close ally, the late Buthelezi, who is often credited with single-handedly propelling him to the contentious AmaZulu throne during a deadly affair with his siblings, who claimed that their brother was not worthy of the throne.

The Ingonyama Trust, which controls close to 3 million hectares of land, is considered a strategic entity, controlling billions through various property portfolios, land leases, and royalties that the entity collects from mining companies.

It came to be on the eve of the first democratic elections when IFP leader Buthelezi threatened that the IFP would not participate in elections unless there was a guarantee that the traditional leaders would own the land formerly under the KwaZulu government under the sole custodianship of the AmaZulu king.

Buthelezi had made it clear that he wanted retired judge Jerome Ngwenya to stay at the helm of the entity. Ngwenya has been the entity’s board chairperson since its inception.

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