A ceremonial Ndebele king might be installed in a few months after years of deliberations.
This was said at the weekend during commemorations to celebrate the life of King Mzilikazi Khumalo who died in 1868.
For the first time since the commemorations started in 2000 at Mhlahlandlela believed to have been the king’s kraal, just outside Bulawayo, there was a top government official, Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko, who attended the event.
In his speech, Mphoko made an impassioned plea to the people to preserve their culture and equated Mhlahlandlela to the National Heroe’s Acre.
He is quoted by the Southern Eye newspaper as having said, “We go to the Heroes’ Acre every year to remember our heroes and heroines who died during the liberation struggle, but as a region, it is no secret that we come here also to remember King Mzilikazi. This is our own version of the Heroes’ Acre."
The Khumalo clan and traditional chiefs organise commemorations to celebrate the life of King Mzilikazi Khumalo every year on the month of September.
The celebrations are usually graced by kings and chiefs from Kwazulu Natal in South Africa and other southern African nations and this year was no exception.
Studio 7spoke to one of the decendants of King Mzilikazi, Zwidekalanga Peter Khumalo, who said Mr. Mphoko did not go to the commemorations representing government.
“He was of course respected and recognized as the vice president of Zimbabwe, that we cannot rule out. But he came mainly as an individual that has the right and interest to commemorate the death of Mzilikazi because remember that one of his family members was, in fact, a chief,” said Khumalo.
Khumalo said deliberations and consultations on the issue of the installation of the king was started in 1997 and appear to be coming to a conclusion.
The issue of installing a Ndebele king is a contentious one because several people claim to be the rightful heir.