BULAWAYO – South Africa Africa-based Bulelani Lobengula is the new Ndebele King after he was secretly coronated at Mhlahlandlela on the outskirts of the second largest city.
Mhlanhlandlela — located 22 kilometres south of Bulawayo — is the cultural hub where annual commemorations for King Mzilikazi are made by local culturalists.
Bulelani’s coronation comes after his initial bid in March to be placed as the King of the Ndebele was blocked by the High Court following successive interdict appeals by the government and, Peter Zwide-Kalanga Khumalo, who claims to be the real king.
The official coronation then had been set for Barbourfields Stadium.
Despite the ban, Bulelani’s supporters still proceeded to the stadium but police were out in full force to block them from entering the venue.
When everyone thought Bulelani and his followers had given up, on Saturday a handful of his supporters gathered at Mhlanhlandlela where they officially unveiled him as the new King of the Ndebele, despite a standing High Court order against the move.
“I am happy to reveal to you that we now have a king,” Chief Nhlanhlayamangwe Ndiweni told the low-profile gathering.
“To qualify as king, Bulelani went through all the necessary traditional rites done within seven days. We officially installed Bulelani Lobengula Khumalo on Friday, September 28,” said Chief Ndiweni.
He explained the reasons for the low attendance: “Today’s gathering was down-toned deliberately because Bulelani came in as an undercover.
“We are also mindful that there is a cholera outbreak in the country,” he said, adding that they had to perform their rituals under cover.
However, the firebrand traditional leader took aim at the country’s justice system, dismissing the High Court ruling, which blocked Bulelani’s installation.
“This is an aspiration of the wish we had earlier on in the year when we witnessed a travesty of justice whereby our choice of a monarchy was interdicted and yet at that very same time there were actually two reigning monarchs in Zimbabwe, Peter Zwide Khumalo and Stanley Raphael.
“We were on the sights of authorities and we have been patient throughout this whole period.
“It is incredible that a judge can give a verdict of a trial and yet cannot write up that verdict for six to seven months. That is a travesty of justice,” he said.
Three months ago, former Home Affairs minister Obert Mpofu — then in charge of culture and heritage — declared that he would not tolerate people who jump the gun when the Constitution is clear about the issue of traditional leaders.
Mpofu also pointed out that the idea of installing the King was supported by very few traditional leaders in the Matabeleland region.
“There are very few chiefs supporting the idea. It’s some traditional leaders not most of them.
“In fact, in the whole of Matabeleland North, there is no chief who supports the idea. I have a list of those who support the idea,” Mpofu said then.