About this site

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

Zwelithini, King Goodwill

Click here for list of interviews

King Zwelithini was born in July 1948 at Nongoma, the eldest son of King Cyprian and his second wife, Queen Thomo. He was educated first at the Bekezulu College of Chiefs and then privately tutored. He lived at his father's official residence at Khethomthandayo and received formal instruction in traditional Zulu customs. In 1968 his father died and a regent was appointed to look after the administration of the Royal affairs while Zwelithini completed his education. A heated debate ensued between the South African government and the KwaZulu royal family over the choice of regency.

Zwelithini was installed as the eighth Monarch of the Zulus at a traditional ceremony at Nongoma on 3 December 1971, attended by 20 000 people. However, Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi, wrote the monarchy out of politics in both the KwaZulu and Inkatha constitutions and accused the King of conspiring to form an opposition party.

During the Convention for a Democratic South Africa (CODESA) Zwelithini's status became a point of bitter contention between Buthelezi and the Codesa delegates. In an about face, Buthelezi refused to attend CODESA 2 in May 1992 in protest of the lack of clarity on the future of the King's position. In July 1992, Zwelithini was assured by Nelson Mandela that his status was assured under a new government. This created wider expectations of a dispensation inclusive of various ethnic monarchs in South Africa.

Zwelithini's finances are controlled by the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial authorities and his lavish lifestyle and the future of the Zulu royal house has been a matter of much debate. True to Zulu tradition Zwelithini has many wives. He stays in Nongoma, KwaZulu-Natal.

Source: Gastrow S. (1992). Who's Who in South African Politics: Vol 4, Johannesburg: Ravan. http://www.kwazulunatal.gov.za/royal_household/

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. Return to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory site.