Obituary: Prince Mcwayizeni Israel Zulu

ON A bright day in September 1994, a gaunt Zulu prince walked up to the gates of King Goodwill Zwelithini's palace in Nongoma, in South Africa's rural KwaZulu Natal province, and the king came down to meet him. The two men performed a cleansing ritual.

"In accordance with tradition, we stood outside the palace gates and a man poured fire ash into the king's hands, which he poured into my hands. We rubbed our hands with the ash and then I poured it back into the king's hands," Mcwayizeni Israel Zulu said at the time. Mcwayizeni then took a cow to the king's kraal, and the king gave the prince a beast from the royal kraal. The beasts were slaughtered and there was a feast.

The ceremony, conducted in the presence of the families of both men, as well as the families of the late Kings Solomon and Cyprian, marked the end of a bitter 26-year-old battle for the heart of the Zulu monarch. Its main protagonists were Mcwayizeni and one of South Africa's leading politicians, Mangoshuthu Buthelezi, the Home Affairs Minister and leader of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP). Caught in the middle was King Goodwill. For Mcwayizeni, the 1994 ceremony marked his return to the royal fold after the decades in the wilderness when Buthelezi held sway over the royal family and the weak, pliable king.

Mcwayizeni was the most senior member of the Zulu royal family after King Goodwill. The differences between Mcwayizeni and Buthelezi started in 1968, when Mcwayizeni, then aged 36, became regent to King Goodwill after the death of his father, who was Mcwayizeni's brother. In 1971, when his nephew ascended to the throne, Mcwayizeni announced that Buthelezi, himself a Zulu prince, would not be part of a proposed royal council to advise the king. Buthelezi was also excluded from the official programme at the coronation, an incident which he considered an insult.

Thereafter the two men's differences revolved around the position of "traditional prime minister" to the king - the most powerful position in Zulu royalty. As the most senior prince in the royal family, Mcwayizeni was by all traditional accounts supposed to occupy the position. However, until 1994 Buthelezi held the position, despite being a junior prince. Indeed, in the bitter battle for the position and thereby control of the royal house, Mcwayizeni alleged that Buthelezi was not a member of the Zulu royal clan, but of a lower house. "He has nothing to do with matters of the royal family. He is not a Zulu; he is a Buthelezi," Mcwayizeni said.

In 1979 the simmering differences between Buthelezi and Mcwayizeni came to a head. Buthelezi, by then leader of the apartheid-created KwaZulu homeland while Mcwayizeni was the king's representative in the homeland's parliament, accused Mcwayizeni and the king of attempting to form a political party to oppose him. King Goodwill, present in the legislative chamber, fled, apparently in tears.

The power had decisively shifted from Mcwayizeni by then, and Buthelezi gradually entrenched himself as the king's adviser. Prince Sifiso Zulu, a one-time spokesman for the king, believes there were several reasons why Zwelithini was weakened and allowed himself to be used: "Through his IFP and KwaZulu government, Buthelezi managed to have access and control over the king's subjects. If the king were to rise against Buthelezi at that point, he would have lost the support of his people."

Further, the king's office was a sub-division of Buthelezi's department in the KwaZulu homeland. The king had to make requests to Buthelezi for whatever he needed - including stationery, transport and any other kind of allowance. Buthelezi's control was absolute. It was in this decade that the lines between the Zulu people and the IFP became blurred as Buthelezi emerged not just as a leader of his party, but as a spokesman for the king and therefore of the eight- million-strong Zulu people.

It was in the 1980s that Mcwayizeni began to build a relationship with Nelson Mandela's banned African National Congress (ANC). After a meeting with the organisation's exiled leaders in Harare, Zimbabwe, in 1989, Mcwayizeni resigned from Buthelezi's KwaZulu homeland parliament and declared that he would join the ANC as soon as it was possible to do so inside the country.

At this point Mcwayizeni's opposition to Buthelezi's involvement with the Zulu royal family became more vocal. For this, he came under increasing attack - his house was petrol-bombed and several attempts were made on his life. In the meantime, water and electricity at his house in Nongoma were cut off by the responsible department in Buthelezi's KwaZulu homeland.

Mcwayizeni continued to campaign to show that not all Zulus were linked to the IFP, a misconception that had led to the harassment and deaths of many Zulus in South Africa's mining townships in the early 1990s when violence erupted between the ANC and the IFP. In 1992 he was elected to the ANC's national executive committee, the organisation's highest decision- making body, and was one of the organisation's most popular leaders in KwaZulu Natal. He participated in various structures set up to bring an end to the feuding between the ANC and IFP in the province, where more than 15,000 people have died in political violence since 1983.

In April 1994 Mcwayizeni became one of the first members of parliament in the democratic South Africa, but began ailing with kidney problems and high blood pressure soon thereafter. At Mcwayizeni's death, there had been no reconciliation between him and Buthelezi.

Mcwayizeni Israel Zulu, politician: born Nongoma, South Africa 3 March 1931; married (five sons, two daughters); died Johannesburg 7 September 1999.

Arts and Entertainment
Keith from The Office ten years on

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams prepares to enter the House of Black and White as Arya Stark in Game of Thrones season five

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Albert Hammond Junior of The Strokes performs at the Natural History Museum on July 6, 2006 in London, England.

music
Arts and Entertainment
Howard Mollison, as played by Michael Gambon
tv review
Arts and Entertainment
Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush in The King's Speech

The best TV shows and films coming to the service

tv
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift won Best International Solo Female (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Shining star: Maika Monroe, with Jake Weary, in ‘It Follows’
film review
Arts and Entertainment

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith arrives at the Brit Awards (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Boleyn's beheading in BBC Two's Wolf Hall

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Follow every rainbow: Julie Andrews in 'The Sound of Music'
film Elizabeth Von Trapp reveals why the musical is so timeless
Arts and Entertainment
Bytes, camera, action: Leehom Wang in ‘Blackhat’
film
Arts and Entertainment
The Libertines will headline this year's festival
music
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Dean Anderson in the original TV series, which ran for seven seasons from 1985-1992
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Muscling in: Noah Stewart and Julia Bullock in 'The Indian Queen'

opera
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'

TVViewers predict what will happen to Miller and Hardy
Arts and Entertainment
Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright in season two of the series

Watch the new House of Cards series three trailer

TV
Arts and Entertainment
An extract from the sequel to Fight Club

books
Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant, Eve Myles and Olivia Colman in Broadchurch series two

TV Review
Arts and Entertainment
Old dogs are still learning in 'New Tricks'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
'Tonight we honour Hollywood’s best and whitest – sorry, brightest' - and other Neil Patrick Harris Oscars jokes

Oscars 2015It was the first time Barney has compered the Academy Awards

Arts and Entertainment
Patricia Arquette making her acceptance speech for winning Best Actress Award

Oscars 2015 From Meryl Streep whooping Patricia Arquette's equality speech to Chris Pine in tears

Arts and Entertainment

Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants

Arts and Entertainment
Lloyd-Hughes takes the leading role as Ralph Whelan in Channel 4's epic new 10-part drama, Indian Summers

TV Review

The intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Segal and Cameron Diaz star in Sex Tape

Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
    Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

    Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

    Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
    Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
    With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

    Money, corruption and drugs

    The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
    America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

    150 years after it was outlawed...

    ... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
    Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

    You won't believe your eyes

    Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
    Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
    Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

    Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

    The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
    A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

    It's not easy being Green

    After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
    Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

    Gorillas nearly missed

    BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
    Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

    The Downton Abbey effect

    Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
    China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

    China's wild panda numbers on the up

    New census reveals 17% since 2003