President Cyril Ramaphosa has snubbed the coronation of AmaMpondo aseNyandeni king Mangaliso Ndlovuyezwe Ndamase amid divisions with the AmaMpondo nation.
Ramaphosa was meant to hand over a certificate of recognition to Ndamase at Nyandeni Great Place – where his coronation is taking place today – but could not attend due to divisions between AmaMpondo aseNyandeni and AmaMpondo aseQaukeni, who are both from the senior royal house.
At the heart of the conflict is the coronation and recognition of Ndamase as king of AmaMpondo AseNyandeni by the government. AmaMpondo aseQaukeni king, Tyelovuyo Zanozuko Sigcau, does not want Ndamase to be crowned AmaMpondo aseNyandeni king and argues that he, and not Ndamase, is the king of AmaMpondo as affirmed by the Constitutional Court.
Secret meetings between the kings were held last week in Durban and Port St John’s to bring about unity. The two kings are descendents of, and of the same royal blood as, King Faku – who was the leader of the AmaMpondo when they were recognised by the British in 1844.
The meetings, which were led by Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Dr Zweli Mkhize, his deputy Obed Baphela and MEC for Cogta in the Eastern Cape Fikile Xasa, were sanctioned by Ramaphosa after he received a letter from Sigcau’s lawyers threating to interdict his participation in the event.
In an interview on Wedneday, Xasa confirmed that Ramaphosa would not attend.
Ramaphosa’s spokesperson, Khusela Diko, also confirmed the president would not be attending the coronation and referred all questions to Cogta.
“There was a letter from the lawyers of Sigcau that was sent to the presidency and, after engagements, we agreed that the minister and the premier should facilitate a process to cause the AmaMpondo to unite. Out of that there was a series of meetings. The minister and deputy minister were there and the two kings were also there with their respective delegations. Out of that we thought we had struck a deal,” he said.
Xasa confirmed that in 2010 a certificate of recognition had been issued to Ndamase and that at the same time the Nhlapho Commission was clear that Sigcau should be the king of all the AmaMpondo.
“So for us there is no confusion. We accept that there is Ndamase who is king of AmaMpondo aseNyandeni. And also the Constitutional Court ruling makes it clear that Sigcau is the king of AmaMpondo. So we expected to crown both of them. In other words we follow behind AmaMpondo as they direct us as government. We are in partnership with them,” he said.
Xasa also confirmed that Mkhize would not be attending the coronation because he was leading an inter-ministerial task team to plan the funeral of late minister Edna Molewa, but said the government had spent R15 million on the coronation.
He said the national government had tasked premier Phumulo Masualle to take charge of all the things that government was supposed to do.
Xasa said there were several demands that were put to the president by Sigcau’s lawyers, who also threatened to take him to court if he attended the coronation.
“One of the demands to the president was to say, don’t go there. If you go there we will interdict the event. Secondly, they said to the president he must withdraw the certificate of recognition. So the presidency had to respond to those lawyers. He also had to respect that there was this threat ... so the president did not come because of the threat by the lawyers. He then committed to something else today, because we could not give him positive feedback from the assignment he gave us to ensure there was unity within AmaMpondo,” Xasa said.