South Africa: Will the new Zulu king wield his father’s political influence?

By Romain Chanson, in Johannesburg
Posted on Friday, 17 June 2022 11:22

Misuzulu Zulu on 7 May 2021 during one of the last tributes to his mother, Queen Shiyiwe Mantfombi Dlamini Zulu. ©AFP

Half a century after his father was crowned king of the Zulus, it is Misuzulu kaZwelithini's turn. However, without executive power, will the monarch wield the same political influence as his predecessor?

“Political leaders of all persuasions regularly sought his advice, including me,” said President Cyril Ramaphosa during his eulogy to Goodwill Zwelithini.

After a 50-year reign, the Zulu king died of Covid-19 on 12 March 2021 at the age of 72. Ramaphosa said: “His Majesty was one of our most revered traditional leaders.”

The South African constitution recognises the role and status of traditional leaders, but republican rule prevails throughout the country.