Prince Misuzulu Zulu – the eldest son of South Africa’s late Zulu king Goodwill Zwelithini and his more recently deceased regent queen – has been designated heir to the monarchy amid a turbulent succession battle.
Misuzulu Zulu, 46, whose name means “strengthening the Zulus”, was named heir in the last will of his deceased mother and queen, Shiyiwe Mantfombi Dlamini Zulu. The will was read out on television on Friday.
Chaos ensued after the televised reading when the new successor’s brother, Prince Thokozani, stood up to voice an opinion. He was quickly shouted down by family members at the royal palace in coastal KwaZulu Natal province, and the newly named heir was then whisked away by heavily armed security.
Although the title of Zulu king does not bestow executive power, the charismatic Zwelithini had moral influence over more than 11 million Zulus, nearly a fifth of South Africa’s population.
The 65-year-old queen and regent died on 30 April, weeks after she was named interim successor to Goodwill Zwelithini, the longest-serving leader of South Africa’s largest ethnic group.
Zwelithini passed away on 12 March at 72 following a battle with a diabetes-related illness. He had spent half a century on the throne. He left behind six wives and 28 children – setting up a turbulent succession battle.
I “hereby nominate and appoint Misuzulu Zulu … as my successor to the throne”, said the late queen’s will, read out by advocate Griffiths Madonsela.
The letter that bequeathed the monarchy to her first son was dated 23 March, a day before she was named regent.
Since the death of the late queen, who was Zwelithini’s third wife and the sister of Eswatini’s King Mswati III, various factions in the royal family have sought to put forward their candidates to claim the throne.
Some alleged the regent was poisoned and that her husband’s signature was fraudulently added to his will. Allegations that the queen was poisoned have been dismissed by family insiders as a misunderstanding of reports that traces of toxins had been found in her liver some time ago.
Flanked by singing and dancing Zulu regiments, Prince Zulu on Friday morning made a dramatic entrance at his mother’s official memorial service, demonstrating his willingness to take over.