'Feeble and failed': Zulu prince lashes out at IFP's use of Prince Misuzulu's face on election poster

Prince Misuzulu attended the first Umkhosi weLembe commemoration on Friday since the passing of his father.
Prince Misuzulu attended the first Umkhosi weLembe commemoration on Friday since the passing of his father.
Image: Sandile Ndlovu

A senior Zulu royal family member has come out strongly against the IFP, and was scathing of its use of heir apparent Prince Misuzulu’s face on an electioneering poster. 

In a statement on Tuesday, Prince Mbonisi Zulu described the royal family’s reaction as that of disgust and outrage, calling the IFP’s conduct “a feeble and failed campaign by politically aligned individuals to define the Zulu throne as being the property of a political party”. 

This follows IFP election posters which appeared on social media on Monday bearing the face of Prince Misuzulu. The party called it a mishap, and quickly withdrew the posters and apologised. 

However, the royal family did not seem to be in a forgiving mood.

Prince Mbonisi said the IFP posters displayed egregious and naked abuse of the royal family, which ran counter to the time-honoured principles that the royal family is, and will always be, above party politics.

“We are not surprised, and in fact we feel vindicated, because we have long suspected that the ultimate objective of fuelling divisions in the Zulu royal family by politically aligned individuals had one intended objective — to use the family as an instrument of political capture,” he said.

The divisions he referred to related to the royal family’s disagreement on who should ascend to the throne after the death of King Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu. 

The party at the centre of the poster controversy, the IFP, was founded by a man in favour of Prince Misuzulu as the heir. The IFP emeritus president, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, is also traditional prime minister of the Zulu nation. 

“It is the context that the underhanded use of Prince Misuzulu as a Trojan horse for the IFP is deeply objectionable. As the royal family, we wish to strongly condemn the use of our children by a political party to gain political currency,” said Prince Mbonisi. 

He said the Zulu royal family had decided to speak out against the posters as it is their burden of responsibility to protect the royal family members from “political gimmicks” and attempts to make its children “poster children of the 2021 local government election campaign”, as it accused the IFP of doing.

Prince Mbonisi also took a thinly veiled swipe at Buthelezi, alleging that the IFP’s move was the continuation of a well-orchestrated grand plan of royal capture with the central figures being senior leaders who have some association with the Zulu royal family while their primary interest is politics. 

“We, the royal family, have been warning about this since the demise of his majesty King Goodwill Zwelithini KaBhekuzulu and her majesty Queen Mantfombi,” he added. 

However, Prince Mbonisi also alleged that some who “masquerade as royal family members are central figures in this grand plan of royal capture for political short-term gains”.

He added that using pictures of royal family members on electioneering posters  was not only mischievous but also disrespectful — “a dangerous ploy calculated to split the royal family along political party lines”.

“In this regard, efforts to bring the royal family into the political arena goes against the values that we stand for as a custodian of peace, unity and development in the life of our nation,” Prince Mbonisi said. 

He said the royal family would be meeting to demand answers.

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