State sticks to the 2010 recommendations of the Nhlapo Commission on traditional leadership
The government will never grant the Va Tsonga people kingship status because their king died in Mozambique, Deputy Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Obed Bapela said. meeting for the coronation of
Vha Venda King Toni Mphephu Ramabulana in Limpopo, Bapela said the state would stick to the 2010 recommendations of the Nhlapo Commission on tradition leadership disputes and claims. “We do have other kings except only three indigenous national groups that do not have kings in South Africa. The Tsongas, their Kingdom was and collapsed in Mozambique. So, therefore, that’s why they do not have a Kingdom in South Africa and that’s the conclusion of the Nhlapo Commission,” Bapela said, while addressing hundreds of people at Dzanani outside Makhado last week.
According to Wikipedia, Vha Tsonga king Mdungazwe Ngungunyane Nxumalo – affectionately known as “The Lion of Gaza” – was captured in Mozambique in December 1906. He was transferred to Portugal, Mozambique’s then colonial master, where he died a few weeks later. President Jacob Zuma’s administration affirmed King Ramabulana after his tribe’s kingship status, as well as family disputes over who was the rightful leader, were settled by the commission and the courts. His coronation is scheduled for September 9. There are currently seven recognised kings in the country. These are King Ramabulana; Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo of AbaThembu; King Zwelonke Sigcau of AmaXhosa; King Zanozuko Sigcau of AmaMpondo; King Goodwill Zwelithini of AmaZulu; King Victor Thulare, of Bapedi ba Maroteng and Queen Modjadji of the Balobedus. Bapela said the Sekhukhune kingdom still faced internal legal battles over leadership while Queen Modjadji has yet to be installed because she is a minor. Prince Mpapatla Modjadji is currently the regent. Kings are entitled to a salary of more than R 1 million each and other government perks including a palace.
Many people are unhappy about King Zwelithini’s salary of more than R54 million per year. It was approved by the
government as part of the pre-1994 negotiations. Vha Venda people have been without a king since the apartheid
government demoted him to a paramount chief. Bapela added: “The word chief does not have any historic meaning to the history of our society.” He also slammed the media ford is respecting local kings in favour of the English Queen.
Vha Venda Kingdom spokesman Jackson Mafunzwaini has thanked the government for restoring his tribe’s dignity.
He said the dispute between the Masindi and Vhangona people would not affect the coronation ceremony. ANC MP Joe Maswanganyi, who is advisor to Va Tsonga kingship claimant Bayete Nxumalo, said Bapela has “jumped the gun” and “misrepresented” President Zuma because he was not familiar with the contents of the Nhlapo report. He said the commission had rejected his tribe’s kingship claim because they missed the cut off date for submitting it, not because of where King Ngungunyane died. “So, when people make comments about the issue of kingship they must understand the background of what they are taking about. Otherwise they will miss the point. So, he [Bapela] has missed the point.
It’s wrong just to say that a particular national group cannot have a kingship based on what he is saying,” said Maswanganyi, who is also a member of lobby group Gaza Kingdom. “He can’t speak on behalf of the president in that manner, because it’s the president who is responsible for the issue of kingship. So, he is misrepresenting the president.” Maswanganyi challenged Bapela to “tell us whether we have never had any kingship”. “That matter has been raised with the president and the president has told us that he will come back to the king, address the matter and have a session with the claimant. So, he’s jumping the gun when there’s an outstanding meeting between our president and our king”. It was also “uncalled for”, Maswanganyi insisted, for an African to recognise colonial boundaries “as the current authority” because Mozambique didn’t exist in the 18 000s.
The Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa (Contralesa) has slammed Bapela’s statement as “reckless and careless”. President Kgoshi Setlamorago Thobejane, who is also an ANC MP, said the government could not punish the Va Tsonga people because they did not choose where King Ngungunyane had to die. “To us, it’s a reckless and careless statement by the government. We believe that the Vha Tsongas are part of South Africa,” Kgoshi Thobejane said. “When we are reconstructing and redeveloping ourselves, they must be helped to put themselves together. When Ngungunyane died in Mozambique, the African borders weren’t as hard as they are now.” Kgoshi Thobejane said the government had a duty to “reinstate” the dignity of the Va Tsonga people, as part of completing the country’s ethno-nationalism and identity, regardless of the commission’s findings.