Buthelezi lays siege to monarch's grip and Mandela's dream

Five thousand Zulu warriors stood roasting in the Natal sun, spears and axes at the ready. Mangosuthu Buthelezi's thin, unamplified voice wafted down from the rostrum with another chant to keep his stadium of supporters occupied until the public-address system was fixed.

Soon the minor chiefs at the front were dancing with glee. "I dreamed of a witch, doing her sorcery," they all boomed in Zulu unison, springbok- skin skirts and weapons flailing .

Mr Buthelezi was up to some old magic himself yesterday, staging another rally to consolidate his power in KwaZulu- Natal, threatening President Nelson Mandela's vision of a unitary South African state and laying psychological siege to his main local opponent, the Zulu king Goodwill Zwelethini

"We are writing a new page in the history of the Zulu nation," said Mr Buthelezi, whose Inkatha Freedom Party is the only significant black rival to Mr Mandela's African National Congress. "We are leading the struggle for its final liberation and self-determination." Such words have prompted fears that Mr Buthelezi is plotting to dominate KwaZulu-Natal and divide it from the rest of South Africa in the guise of a federation. Among South Africa's 40 million people, only 7 million are Zulus, but they constitute 75 per cent of the population of KwaZulu-Natal.

Mr Buthelezi's struggle for Zulu self-determination will be a hard one. Inkatha polled only 10 per cent of the national vote in last year's historic elections and just managed to win a majority of the KwaZulu-Natal provincial assembly - 41 seats out of 81 - amid allegations of rampant ballot box- stuffing. But he is not shrinking from the fight, even though the government is still refusing to honour a promise of international mediation on the role of the Zulu monarchy and his demands for autonomy. Inkatha, part of the Government of National Unity, withdrew from it for two weeks last month over the issue.

But to speak for all the Zulus, Mr Buthelezi must also have the king on his side. The ANC has seduced Goodwill Zwelethini with money and an army guard to protect him from the violence endemic to the province's political turf battles. So it was the king's "spiritual exile [from his] mystical relationship with the people" that was the focus of yesterday's rally in Umlazi, just south of Durban.

It is ANC territory and so tension was high, culminating in shooting in the air, some injuries and police tear-gassing of the stadium. The king had ordered Zulus to stay away, but Mr Buthelezi showed the strength of his position by securing the participation of many of the province's 300 tribal chiefs. Even so, he trod carefully. After all, the two men are set to dine with the Queen during her visit this month.

"Nothing could be more far removed from our soul and our spirit than a vile plan to dethrone our king," Mr Buthelezi said. But if the king did not come back to the fold within two months, "we shall make final decisions to plot the way forward ..."

Prince after prince of the royal house stood before the crowd to criticise the king, in what one sub-chief described as a "very, very painful" vote of no confidence.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA celebration of British elections
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power