It turns the stomach to see former journalist Bhekisisa Mncube promoting himself at the expense of His Majesty King Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu, particularly when His Majesty is no longer here to answer him.
In his article “A giant tree has fallen” (The Witness, March 19, 2021), Mncube portrays the King as someone who spoke from both sides of his mouth, claiming that in “a private moment” the King praised him profusely for publicising rifts in the Zulu royal family. That alone would be inexplicable.
But he also alleges that the King shared his “unease about Buthelezi’s meddling in the affairs of the Zulu royal household”.
Undoubtedly, Mncube has a flair for the dramatic; from his enthusiastically narrated brown envelope collusion with the National Intelligence Agency, to his boast that he wrote former President Jacob Zuma’s speeches. He now brags, “I penned the famous speech” for the visit by the Prince of Wales in November 2011. How exciting for him.
I was there on November 4, 2011, introducing His Majesty the King as is my duty as traditional Prime Minister to the Zulu Monarch and nation. That alone draws a big question mark over Mncube’s claim that my position as Prime Minister is “self-professed”.
If The Witness was willing to publish them, I could provide decades’ worth of letters written to me in His Majesty’s own hand, in which he addresses me as Undunankulu kaZulu.
I was appointed to this position by His Majesty’s father, King Cyprian Bhekuzulu kaSolomon, in 1954 at the unveiling of King Shaka’s memorial in Stanger.
Upon King Zwelithini’s ascension to the throne I said that His Majesty was free to appoint a different Prime Minister; but he never did. Instead, he bestowed on me the King’s Cross Award, and then the King Shaka Gold Medal, and then the Umthunzi kaZulu Award on behalf of the entire Royal Family, publicly thanking me for all I had done.
On August 28, 2015, he spoke at an unveiling in Ulundi and said, “Ndabezitha, all that you have done is not for yourself, but you did it for my people… I am here Mageba to congratulate you on saving the Zulu Nation, even during my reign.”
To Mncube, this no doubt pales in comparison to his own moment of glory, when he drove to Nongoma in 2011 to give the King a birthday cake.
In Mncube’s retelling, the King’s response to a cake is quite extraordinary: “He thanked me profusely for my service to the Zulu Kingdom.”
When Mncube writes of my “unrelenting meddling in the affairs of the Zulu royal household”, one wonders to what he refers. Can he explain himself with a single example? Apparently he does not realise that I am part of the Zulu royal family. My mother was the senior daughter of King Dinuzulu, and full sister to King Solomon, His Majesty’s grandfather. Thus, when His Majesty wrote to me on countless occasions seeking my intervention to resolve family disputes, he wrote to me not only as his Prime Minister, but as his uncle and a senior member of the Royal Family.
These requests from my nephew continued to the end of his days; and to the end of his days I carried out his instructions.
During His Majesty’s Memorial Service, where I spoke as traditional Prime Minister to the Zulu Monarch and Nation, the King’s brother Prince Mbonisi thanked me in the presence of our head of state and the entire royal family, referring to me not only as Prime Minister, but as their father.
Mncube’s portrayal of the King as someone who said one thing publicly and another in private is a great disservice to the memory of our nation’s monarch. With utter disrespect, he has stepped on the King to lift himself up.
• Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP is the traditional Prime Minister to the Zulu monarch and nation
Bhekisisa Mncube accused Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi of protesting too much.
“I told the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. I refuse to enter into a mudslinging match with the relic of yesteryear. What on Earth is “senior daughter” and “full sister”, talk of having a flair for the dramatic. I rest my case.”