Statement by Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP

Inkosi of the Buthelezi Clan and
Traditional Prime Minister to the Zulu Monarch and Nation

I am deeply disturbed and angered by comments made today during an impromptu press conference convened by two siblings of the late King, Prince Mbonisi and Princess Thembi, who appear to consider themselves “the Royal Family”.

During this press conference, Princess Thembi claimed that they had excluded me from an earlier secret meeting that they convened because I apparently do not give them space to freely discuss matters. I find this strange when during an official family meeting held at the Palace, in the presence of the Regent, I literally pleaded with Princess Thembi to say what was in her heart. She then spoke frankly, for which I complimented her.

Her allegation that I am some sort of dictator who shoots people down when they have a view which with I disagree, is quite outlandish. I really challenge her to quote a single instance in which I shot anyone down during a family meeting. The only instance in which I ever chided a member of the family was when my grandniece Princess Nombuso was speaking out of turn. It is known, however, that Princess Nombuso even used to argue with her own father, the King.

By giving this as the reason for excluding me from their meeting, Princess Thembi is being mendacious, diverting attention from the fact that they never even informed Her Majesty the Regent about the meeting, or the Queen Mother, or any other senior member of the Royal Family.

Agreeing to this false statement, her brother Prince Mbonisi confirmed her allegation that they are being blamed for poisoning the Regent. It is not clear who is blaming them, or why they feel they are being blamed at all. But it is clear that they want to paint me as the author of the rumours that Her Majesty was poisoned. They know very well that this is not the case.

As I said in an interview with eNCA, His Majesty the King spoke before hundreds of people in December 2017, when we gathered for the anniversary celebration of his coronation. In front of all these people, His Majesty said, “Mntanenkosi has been poisoned. That is why she is not with us.” The eNCA journalist who was interviewing me confirmed that he was present on that occasion in 2017 and recalled His Majesty having made this statement.

When I announced Her Majesty the Regent’s passing, I spoke in isiZulu explaining that doctors had not wanted to operate, because of toxins in her liver. This required treatment with antibiotics in the hope of reducing the infection. Toxins are not the same thing as poison. It is thus grossly irresponsible of the Sunday Independent to have run with the false story that I ever suggested that the Regent died from being poisoned.

The cause of Her Majesty’s death is yet to be revealed. Her doctors ordered a postmortem, which has been done, and the results will be known in two weeks’ time. I would never speculate, and indeed I did not speculate on the cause of death.

A new voice in the midst of all this is Prince Thokozani who has suddenly emerged as a vociferous critic of the Royal Family’s decisions. I am shocked by his comments at today’s impromptu press conference, as he has no authority to question the Royal Family. He is someone whom we have always known as Mr Msweli, the son of Prince Penuel, born out of wedlock. He did not grow up in the Royal Court.

Indeed, Prince Mbonisi likewise did not grow up in the Royal Court. His mother was not married to King Cyprian. Knowing this, we all applauded the way His Majesty King Zwelithini embraced him and used him to run errands.

Princess Thembi, as a sister of the late King, has every right to participate in family matters. But, as a married woman, she has no status to drive programmes in the manner she is now doing.

I state these facts to clarify that they are not in any way speaking on behalf of the Zulu Royal Family. They are speaking on their own behalf. Moreover, what they are saying is deeply disrespectful to the Royal Family, to the late Regent and to the late King, for whom we are still in mourning.

Perhaps most distressing of all is the claim that Her Majesty the Regent was somehow shoved down their throats. His Majesty the King appointed Her Majesty as Regent. If they have a quarrel, it is with the King himself.