Battle lines” have been drawn in a row over who should succeed to South Africa’s Zulu throne, Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi has said.
He serves as the traditional prime minister for the Zulu nation which lost King Goodwill Zwelithini in March.
The 72-year-old monarch, who died from diabetes-related complications, had six wives and at least 26 children.
Some family members did not support the new monarch King Misuzulu KaZwelithini, who was announced as the successor to the throne last month amid a family feud.
One faction of the family had nominated another prince as successor – Prince Simakade Zulu – and had written a letter asking for him to be accorded security as a king, Chief Buthelezi said.
The succession conflict was so serious it would have resulted to war “had we not achieved this stage of constitutional development as a country”, Chief Buthelezi said on Thursday.
“It appears that the battle lines in this conflict have been drawn, as far as I am concerned. We felt therefore that the nation should be informed so that they might judge for themselves who is right and who is wrong in this conflict,” he told a media briefing.
He denied that he was sowing conflict among members of the royal family, saying he did not choose the king.
“I am quite flabbergasted to hear that accusation as it is the will that was read that named our present king as the heir and it was not myself,” state broadcaster SABC quoted him as saying.
“Even if there was no will, automatically the heir would still have been the present king, Misuzulu, because he comes from the house of the chief wife who is the daughter of his majesty King Sobhuza II,” he added.
Zwelithini was the longest-reigning Zulu monarch, having served on the throne for almost 50 years.