DURBAN (Reuters) – Misuzulu, who has promised to unite his nation and protect tradition, was officially recognised as the AmaZulu King by the South African government on Saturday in the first Zulu coronation since 1971.
The official recognition by President Cyril Ramaphosa puts an end to lengthy legal wrangling that mired his succession to the throne — a battle that has played out in public and the courts.
Misuzulu kaZwelithini, 48, was crowned the king of South Africa’s largest ethnic group in a customary celebration in August but required recognition from Ramaphosa to fully access government resources and support.
This certificate of recognition was officially handed over on Saturday at the coastal town of Durban, where tens of thousands of people, mostly Zulus dressed in their traditional attires and carrying shields and clubs, gathered to recognise Misuzulu as the rightful heir to the late King Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu.
Misuzulu’s father, King Zwelithini, passed away in March 2021 after reining since 1971.
“You have picked up the mighty spear that has fallen. May your steady hand guide and bring stability to the kingship of AmaZulu,” Ramaphosa said, adding that his government was committed to working with the new king to help transform rural areas into places of prosperity.
King Misuzulu reigns over a divided royal family, with another faction, that includes some of his late father’s wives and some of his siblings from the other palaces, recognising King Zwelithini’s first-born son Prince Simakade as king.
Misuzulu was chosen as the rightful heir through the will of his mother, the late Queen Mantfombi Dlamini Zulu, who became interim leader after the death of her husband King Zwelithini. The Queen passed away almost two months after Zwelithini.
“I commit to develop the country and the economy and promoting peace and reconciliation first among the Zulus and also among the South Africans and Africans,” King Misuzulu said after taking his oath.
The Zulu monarch does not have formal political power but is hugely influential as a custodian of the ethnic group’s traditional customs and land.
The king controls vast swaths of land, estimated at about 3 million hectares, in KwaZulu-Natal under an entity called the Ingonyama Trust.
(Reporting by Nqobile Dludla; Editing by Christina Fincher)