The Gauteng High Court has ruled against President Cyril Ramaphosa, declaring his certification of Prince Misuzulu KaZwelithini as the Zulu King as a violation of the law. The verdict, delivered by Judge Norman Davis, highlights the President’s disregard for specific sections of the Leadership Act, which stipulates the need for an investigative panel in the event of a dispute over the kingship.
This ruling, however, does not delve into determining the rightful heir between KaZwelithini and the applicant, Prince Simakade Zulu. Judge Davis clarified that the matter had already been settled in a previous ruling by Judge Isaac Madondo in March 2022, affirming KaZwelithini as the rightful king.
The legal dispute stems from the succession battle following the death of Goodwill Zwelithini in 2021, leading to a contested meeting where about 130 royal family members nominated Prince Misuzulu KaZwelithini as the next Zulu King.
The court’s attention focused on a meeting held on May 14, 2021, which was formally disputed by Zwelithini’s sister, the late Princess Thembi Zulu. She contested the legitimacy of the meeting, alleging it was called under false pretenses and lacked a clear agenda related to identifying a successor to the throne.
President Ramaphosa’s involvement in mediating the royal dispute also faced scrutiny. Instead of appointing an investigative panel, he chose mediation, which led to a report by former KwaZulu-Natal Premier Willies Mchunu recommending waiting for all court processes to conclude before certifying a king.
The recent court ruling found that there was a justifiable dispute requiring the appointment of an investigative panel, and President Ramaphosa “erred in law” by failing to fulfill his duties as mandated by legislation. Consequently, the certification of Misuzulu was deemed “unlawful and invalid.” The court has instructed Ramaphosa to appoint an investigative panel to examine adherence to Zulu customary laws and practices in the nomination of a Zulu king.