Zulu nation ruler Queen Mantfombi Dlamini dies aged 65

Queen Shiyiwe Mantfombi Dlamini Zulu, the traditional ruler of South Africa’s Zulu nation, has died aged 65, only a month after she took the role following the death of her husband, King Goodwill Zwelithini.

“It is with deepest shock and distress that the royal family announces the unexpected passing of Her Majesty Queen Shiyiwe Mantfombi Dlamini Zulu, regent of the Zulu nation,” Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, the founder of the Inkatha Freedom party and traditional prime minister to the Zulu monarch, 성명에서 말했다.

The Zulu are South Africa’s largest ethnic group, accounting for more than one-fifth of the country’s 60 million inhabitants, most living in the coastal province of KwaZulu-Natal. The royal family has no formal government powers but upholds Zulu tradition and controls millions of hectares of land through a trust. Monarchs also receive public funds and have significant political influence.

No details of the cause of death have been released, though some South African media reports say she had been ill for some time.

“This has taken us by surprise and left us utterly bereft. On behalf of the royal family, I wish to assure the nation that while we are all rightly grief-stricken, there will be no leadership vacuum in the Zulu nation,” Buthelezi said.

In a statement, South Africa’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa, extended his “thoughts, prayers and hearts once more to the royal family”.

The queen married King Goodwill Zwelithini in 1977, becoming his third wife. He died in hospital last month aged 72 after being admitted for treatment for diabetes. His five decades of rule prompted much criticism of political choices and an allegedly lavish lifestyle.

Under his will, his wife was appointed regent pending the installation of a successor. Discussions on the succession were due to begin only after the royal family’s three-month mourning period had elapsed.

“Further announcement on Her Majesty’s funeral will be made in due course,” Buthelezi told local media.

Sihle Zikalala, the elected leader of KwaZulu-Natal, called the news “heart-wrenching” and described the queen as an inspiration for women, a role which helped to “administer the final burial rites to the backward, patriarchal and chauvinistic tendencies that considered women as inferior beings”.

Prince Lethukuthula Zulu, the firstborn son and eldest child of the king and queen, died in November.

The eldest surviving son, Prince Misuzulu Zulu, 47, whose name can be loosely translated as “strengthening the Zulus”, is favourite to succeed. 하나, the royal family are divided and some observers expect a long and acrimonious tussle over the throne.

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