South Africa’s presidency has announced that President Cyril Ramaphosa will appeal a court decision to set aside his official recognition of King Misuzulu kaZwelithini as the King of the Zulu nation.
The North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria ruled on Monday that Ramaphosa had failed to follow due process in terms of the Leadership Act of 2019 when he failed to institute an investigating panel when a dispute over the throne arose.
King Misuzulu ascended to the Zulu throne following the deaths of his father and his mother in 2021, who were the regents of King Goodwill Zwelithini.
However, his traditional coronation was delayed by 15 months, following bitter feuding over the royal succession.
President Ramaphosa officially handed him a certificate of recognition in October of last year.
The Pretoria court has ordered the president to appoint an investigating committee comprising experts on Zulu royal matters to determine the rightful heir to the throne.
The statement of the presidency said the crown king remains the identified heir to the throne.
The latest court decision comes after the royal family approached the courts to determine the rightful heir as Misuzulu’s half-brother, Prince Simakade Zulu, claimed he was entitled to the throne.
In March 2022, a court challenge to the younger monarch’s ascension was launched in the KwaZulu-Natal Division of the High Court in Pietermaritzburg.
That challenge was dismissed as the court stated that there was “no genuine dispute as to the succession of Prince Misuzulu, as he is, in terms of customary law and customs, the rightful heir to the throne.”
The succession dispute is not merely for symbolic power.
Misuzulu Zulu inherited nearly 30,000 square kilometres of land—almost the area of Belgium—which is managed by a trust from which he receives revenues.
About 10 million South Africans are Zulus.
The Zulu nation is South Africa’s biggest ethnic group. The monarch is recognized by South Africa’s constitution. While the king has no executive powers, he exercises widespread moral authority.