Latest News Editor's Choice

Opinion / Columnist

The Role of the King in Mthwakazi - Mthwakazi Forum with Mzelikahle

29 Dec 2017 at 10:46hrs | Views
There has been a lot of talk about a King in Mthwakazi. In fact in September 2017 we saw Stanley Raphael Khumalo taking the initiative and being crowned king, dubbed King Mzilikazi II. There has  been a lot of resistance to his coronation, ranging from him being said not to be of the proper royal house, to him facing political resistance due to his public statements. In-spite of all this, the point remains that he claims to be King over Mthwakazi. Second in the matrix, not to say he is of any less importance, is the South African born Bulelani Collins Lobhengula Khumalo, who has overwhelming support of the Khumalo clan and the chiefs. He is entering the fray by his coronation on 3 March 2018. He seems to be the horse heavily backed by the majority of the Khumalos. Coming in third, no less important, is Peter Zwidekalanga Khumalo, with vast experience on the Mthwakazi matter and an adept at the challenges faced by Mthwakazi. He is soft spoken, with a touch of caution, and overwhelming selfless love for Mthwakazi. All these esteemed men, stand for the office of the Mthwakazi King, yet the people are not clear of the value and role of a King. Let us analyse this.

In the 21st century, the general view is that monarchs are archaic institutions that are by nature non-democratic and therefore an unnecessary relic of history. And yet the people of Mthwakazi are calling for it. To a general observer, these people are absurd and perhaps do not want to modernise. But is this so? First and foremost, let us understand the nature of the "King" sought by the Mthwakazians. They are, by any means, not looking for some tyrannical social institution in the name of the King. In fact, the conception is to look for a Ceremonial Office of the King, that will serve as a point of unification, given that Mthwakazi is a melting pot of Unity in Diversity. The understanding is that, if the people do not have this common point of unity in the name of the Office of the King, then the peoples of Mthwakazi may easily be divided along the lines of the very diversity. In the Mthwakazi thought, the Office of the King becomes mandatory. Historical existence of this office then becomes an added example to bolster the view that the imagined state of affairs is in-fact attainable.

The people in Zimbabwe whenever they hear about Mthwakazi, almost always associate it with  tribalism. Some go so far as to say they do not recognise Mthwakazi, and say they prefer to call it Matabeleland. Historically, it is a fact that Lobhengula was a King of a Kingdom that was referred to, by its natives, as Mthwakazi. Historically, it is a fact that this Kingdom occupied areas that are today Matabeleland and Midlands. These are historical facts that can not be denied, and any Zimbabwean who claims not to recognise such historical facts is not sincere and is driven by supremacist intentions. If I am asked about tribalism in Zimbabwe, I would say that anyone who does not acknowledge the historical fact that Mthwakazi existed, is indeed tribal.

Now, once a group of people have made indications not to recognise this historical fact, the discussion of the current efforts to install a King, successor to Lobhengula, are always going to be bedevilled by tribal rhetoric. And yet, the purpose and intention of installing a King in Mthwakazi is in-fact to build social and economic institutions that are for the betterment of the whole of Zimbabwe. Yes, the whole of Zimbabwe! The logic is that, any system is diseased if any part of it is not functioning properly. Take for example, the human system. If the eyes are not working, then that human is said to be blind and indeed handicapped, even though the rest of his/her body is well. Equally, if a part of the socio-economic organisation of Zimbabwe is not function properly, then Zimbabwe is handicapped. In today's setup, the Zimbabwean socio-economic fabric is handicapped because, among other things, the Mthwakazi question remains unresolved. We may attempt to run away from this point, but no one can successfully run away from themselves.

The Office of the King, as envisaged by a Mthwakazian today, is meant to be a ceremonial office that does not carry political functions. This is crucially important, because of two factors. First, it is not the intention of the people of Mthwakazi to create a tyrannical figure that will bring disdain and suffering to all and sundry in Mthwakazi, and Zimbabwe at large. Rather, the intention is to bring up a figure that will genuinely unite all peoples found in Zimbabwe, by showing that Matabeleland and Midlands are not epicentres of tribalism, but rather inclusivity. Second, the call to devolution, or even federalism can only be carried out in good faith, if the King in Mthwakazi is acknowledged. This is so because the interests of a King are beyond political interests. Note that, political parties serve only their political interests and therefore if a particular question lies outside a political party's interest, no matter how genuine the question is, that political party will not attend to the question. However, since the King is interested in the whole union of the peoples, he automatically has interests that are beyond a particular
political party. This is why, the King issue in Mthwakazi is a thorny issue. The point is that a King is a unifier and political parties polarise society.

The question of how the Office of the King shall be occupied, will be a discussion of ensuing articles. This article seeks to bring to the fore the unifying role, the King is to play. In fact, with such a unifying figure, the concerns over tribalism shall be matters of the past. I, by now sound a monarchist, and volumes of written text can be opened and brought forward to show me how bad monarchs can be! Volumes I say! But, can I not equally bring forth tonnes of atrocities committed by political parties, all the way from the Soviet Union, China, Chile, and in Africa too? If we are to be genuine about this subject, we will observe that no system is perfect. In fact, even the human body, one of the greatest systems ever, is not perfect. Doctors will attest to it.

The Mthwakazi thought is grappling with the realisation that the current social order in Africa, Zimbabwe included, is Eurocentric. This bothers a Mthwakazian because most of the problems that have come to debilitate our social fabric have been inherited, unnecessarily. This is not to say, Africans must throw away everything European, lest I would not be typing this article right now. The point is that Africans, Zimbabweans included, must learn to sift and only acquire the useful aspects of European civilisation while retaining the value and fabric of their own civilisation. The Mthwakazi question is the contrast of this argument. That Lobhengula was a King is undoubted; this was and, I contend, is the African way. Lobhengula served the best he could all who were in his domain. Do I hear someone in the audience raising a hair citing that forged Rudd concession? Oh good friend, have you read the Baines concession, the Grobler Treaty, the d'Urban Treaty of Friendship? If you have not read these treaties yet, do not replay the "Sold the Country for Sugar" stereo-type, designed to insult the Mthwakazi institution of Kings.

Political parties serve only a section of society, and this is the European way. Remember, European nations would have slaves around them to serve only a section of the society; Romans called this section "Citizens of Rome", the British called the section "Noblemen". As these archaic orders of European society crumbled and fell, political parties arose. Similarly, these parties serve a section of society referred to by a variety of names, an interesting one being "the majority"! When ever an action is taken and a majority, by some means, is said to have ratified it, political parties feel justified and are satisfied. Quick question: What if the majority votes for a wrong idea out of ignorance? Should everything be alright, simply because the party has a majority even if the "majority" of its supporters are ignorant? You see now. It is to the interest of a political party to have the majority of its supporters ignorant, such that the party would always have the supporters despite being wrong as far as best results of actions are concerned. Parties are not judged based on efficacy of their ideas and arguments, as medicines and profit making companies are judged, rather they are judged based on populism. That is to say, simply how many people voted for you and like you even if your ideas are inferior.

In conclusion, people in Matabeleland and Midlands are seeing these limitations in the current ideas under implementation, and are beginning to talk of alternatives. These alternatives are generally referred to as the Mthwakazi idea. Unfortunately, Mthwakazi adversaries have decided to throw the TRIBALISM card into the matrix. Worse still, some among the Mthwakazi proponents have even taken a bite from this tribal card being thrown. It is a quagmire indeed. However, any thoughtful person must be able to draw the lines.

Kernan Mzelikahle is an apolitical analyst, and may be contacted by cellphone on 0775195334, or by email on, twitter handle is @Mzelikahle. This article and others like it may be found on Mthwakazi Forum website:

Source - Kernan Mzelikahle
All articles and letters published on Bulawayo24 have been independently written by members of Bulawayo24's community. The views of users published on Bulawayo24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Bulawayo24. Bulawayo24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.