/ 28 September 2023

Letter firing Ingonyama Trust chairperson is ‘a forgery’

Safrica Culture Tradition Royals
King MisuZulu ka Zwelithini. (RAJESH JANTILAL/AFP via Getty Images)

King MisuZulu ka Zwelithini’s office has dismissed a letter purporting to fire IngonyamaTrust Board (ITB) chairperson Thanduyise Mzimela as “a forgery” and has asked the police to investigate its source.

The letter, allegedly written by the king and sent to KwaZulu-Natal Premier Nomusa Dube-Ncube, was dated 23 September and stated that the monarch had recalled Mzimela, whom he appointed earlier this year.

The letter was circulated on social media earlier this week, sparking a sharp response from the king’s spokesperson, Africa Zulu, on Wednesday stating that it was a “forged document” that made “various false claims”.

“His Majesty wishes it to be recorded that he rejects these fabrications with the highest contempt they deserve and wishes to categorically dismiss the sum of all assertions made in this document,” Zulu said.

“It is sadly — once again — an attempt to sow confusion by nefarious forces intent on spreading falsities and creating instability in the Zulu kingdom.”

Zulu said the king reaffirmed the monarchy’s “full confidence” in its decision to appoint Mzimela, which was done in accordance with his powers in terms of the Ingonyama Trust Act.

The ITB administers nearly three million hectares of traditionally controlled land in KwaZulu-Natal on behalf of the Ingonyama Trust, of which the king is the sole nominee.

The trust was set up in 1994 to give the king control of land that had previously fallen under KwaZulu, while the ITB, whose chairperson is appointed by the king, came into existence two years later.

MisuZulu appointed Mzimela earlier this year after firing sitting chairperson Jerome Ngwenya — who had occupied the role for nearly two decades — in the wake of a Mail & Guardian exposé of a dubious investment that cost the trust R41 million.

The king’s decision sparked a backlash by the late Mangosuthu Buthelezi, his traditional prime minister, who mobilised amakhosi to support Ngwenya.

The issue was among several that strained the king’s relationship with Buthelezi, who died on 9 September.

Zulu said the king was consulting the relevant authorities to investigate the forgery and prosecute “these desperate criminals who have placed the good name of the king and the Zulu Kingdom in disrepute”.

A source at the ITB said that Mzimela was at work and that the letter was the work of “rogue elements” who wanted to undermine the king.