Politicians ‘should respect king’

King Misuzulu’s praise singer was recently hired by Zululand District Municipality after he was forced to retirement by the provincial government. | File

King Misuzulu’s praise singer was recently hired by Zululand District Municipality after he was forced to retirement by the provincial government. | File

Published Apr 29, 2024


Durban — Political leaders should take off their hats and treat King Misuzulu with the respect he deserves as the leader of the Zulu nation, said University of KwaZulu-Natal Zulu cultural expert Dr Gugu Mazibuko.

Mazibuko was reacting to recent events that have seen the relationship between the ANC in KZN and the office of the monarch rapidly deteriorating.

This, according to Mazibuko, has recently led to KZN Premier Nomusa Dube-Ncube forcing the king’s praise singer, Buzetsheni Mdletshe, into retirement without the king’s approval.

However, in a statement on Saturday, Dube-Ncube said the contract was terminated because Mdletshe had passed his compulsory retirement age.

Mdletshe had been employed by the Premier’s Office and paid a salary as the king's praise singer.

The termination of Mdletshe’s contract was challenging the king’s authority, said Mazibuko.

“It is the message to the king that, by the way. you are a constitutional monarch, you get paid by the government and therefore you cannot rise above the government.

“They are forgetting that the king is the head of the nation,” she said. Mazibuko said it was clear that the provincial government has bypassed the king. “Let everyone take away his or her political affiliation and deal with the matter. From what I read, Inyosi (Mdletshe) said this started after the King Dinuzulu commemoration ceremony,” said Mazibuko.

In what could be retaliation, the IFP’s Zululand Municipality last week announced that it had employed Mdletshe as its senior arts and culture co-ordinator to train future youth to be praise singers.

ANC provincial chairperson Siboniso Duma caused a stir in March when he grabbed a microphone from the king’s traditional prime minister Thulasizwe Buthelezi. at the podium during the commemoration of King Dinuzulu in KwaCeza, Zululand.

Duma was enraged by Buthelezi’s alleged use of the ceremony to attack the ruling party’s provincial leadership. Buthelezi had taken to the podium to introduce the king to address guests at the ceremony.

The Economic Development, Tourism, and Environmental Affairs MEC accused the mayor of the Zululand District Municipality of abusing the podium by venturing into politics and ordering Mdletshe to take over the role of introducing the king.

In declining the request, Mdletshe said he was observing royal protocol.

Mazibuko said Mdletshe, 67, who had previously been the main praise singer for late King Goodwill Zwelithini, was caught in a crossfire between Duma and Buthelezi who were fighting their political parties’ battle.

“It means that (termination of Mdletshe’s employment contract) is not something that just happened overnight.

“They decided to cut the contract because Inyosi did this and that, and this is what was said by Inyosi.

“You cannot exclude the events that took place in the past, but all we request as the nation that the king must be given the due respect that he deserves,” she said.

Referring to Buthelezi, who is the leader of the IFP, Mazibuko said: “Even the people who are close to the king must just take away their political affiliation and respect the throne.”

“It is now about the premier, who is representing the ANC-led government, and on the other side there is the traditional prime minister, who is a member of the IFP.

“I can safely say that the pronouncement that was made at Isandlwana by the king that this (Buthelezi) was his new prime minister started all this in the province,” said Buthelezi.

It has been reported that the ANC in the province had unequivocally made it clear that it was not recognising Buthelezi’s traditional role.

Explaining its decision, Dube-Ncube’s office said Mdletshe’s contract, which started in January 2021, was terminated because he had already reached his compulsory retirement age of 65 years on December 31, 2020.

“At the request of the late king, Mr Mdletshe’s employment contract on Persal (Personal and Salary System) was extended by a further two years beyond his compulsory retirement age, to continue to provide praise singing to His Majesty and to train and mentor young and upcoming praise singers.

“Government is implementing prudent financial management of the public purse to ensure that there is no unnecessary wastage of funds,” read the statement.

The premier’s spokesperson, Bongi Gwala, has not responded to the question whether or not the king was consulted about the termination.

Sunday Tribune