/ 2 July 2023

Misuzulu’s office refutes ‘baseless claims’ of ill health

The office of Zulu King Misuzulu kaZwelithini has refuted a claim that he was rushed to hospital in eSwatini after having taken ill on Saturday.

In a statement released on Sunday, the king’s head of communications, Prince Africa Zulu, said that the monarch remained “in perfect health” and that he had merely undergone a medical examination while paying a visit to King Mswati.

“This was informed by the context of our current times of pandemics such as Covid-19 and other dangerous ailments.”

This comes after the king’s induna Douglas Xaba recently died. “His Majesty’s office decided to err on the side of caution and ensure that all possible impediments were tested, in order to mitigate against any untimely eventuality, given the reports of Mr. Xaba’s sudden passing.”

Reports of the king’s illness followed a statement from Mangosuthu Buthelezi — the traditional prime minister to the Zulu monarch and the founder of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) — expressing “great concern” over news he received from King Mswati’s brother, Prince Vumile.

“I am informed that his majesty’s senior induna, Mr Xaba, who stayed with the king, passed on quite suddenly and that there are suspicions that he was poisoned. When His Majesty began to feel unwell, he suspected that he too may have been poisoned,” Buthelezi’s statement read, later expressing concern for the king’s recovery.

The king’s office, however, suggested that the claim of his hospitalisation appears to be part of “an orchestrated agenda and a desperate narrative to communicate defamatory and baseless claims of his majesty’s ill health”.

“This is not the first occasion such tactics have been mobilised; similar activities were done during his majesty’s recent visit to Swaziland. The motives are unclear at this stage, however, the king remains cognisant that the political environment is ripe due to the approaching cycle of political elections,” the king’s statement reads.

“It seems the intention is to create the public perception that his majesty the king is unwell and unfit. Ultimately this creates unnecessary panic and perceptions of instability in the royal crown.”

In May, the Mail & Guardian reported that IFP leaders were concerned about tensions between the Zulu king and Buthelezi, who has dismissed speculation that any such rift exists.

“If this perception that the relationship is in trouble continues,” one unnamed IFP leader said at the time, “the public will end up thinking that the IFP is at war with the king. That’s the last thing the IFP leaders would want to happen, particularly given that we are not far from next year’s election.”