The storm the Ndebele King created

The storm the Ndebele King created
Published: 30 May 2018 | by Brenda Nozipho Ncube, umthwakazireview Bulawayo Correspondent

EARNEST Ncube came to Bulawayo on the 12th of September 2017 all the way from South Africa to witness a ground-breaking event of the inauguration of His Royal Highness, King Mzilikazi II, Stanley Raphael Khumalo.

What was supposed to be a well-lit event, a milestone for the Ndebele people in Zimbabwe as the King was to address his people at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair Hall (ZITF), turned to be nightmare in broad day light.

“In no time, the riot police stormed the ZITF and fired tear gas to block us from continuing with the ceremony,” said Ncube.

Ncube is among the thousands of Ndebele people who are anxious about the installation of a King in Matabeleland and eagerly awaiting the inauguration of the second king 124 years after the disappearance of their last king, Lobengula.

The Ndebele feel side lined and marginalised by the government hence they are pinning their hopes on the installation of a king.


 “In the education sector, teachers deployed to Matabeleland cannot utter a single Ndebele word but they are assigned to teach our Grade Ones who do not know Shona and cannot understand English whilst we have thousands of unemployed qualified teachers in the region. This has contributed to low pass rate in Matabeleland,” echoes Greater Sibanda, a traditionalist aligned to the Royal Khumalo family.

 “Even in hospitals, our elderly fail to get proper treatment because they cannot understand the language used by nurses who don’t even bother trying to learn the local languages; that is colonisation through language,” he said.

He added that even in government institutions there are few Ndebele people in positions of authority, which means that they cannot make influential decisions.

This determination by the Royal Ndebele family to install a King is driven by the support they are getting from the ordinary Ndebele people including the middle class who previously ignored the call.

 “The Matabeleland Bureau of Researchers recovered a Grand Plan document that was drafted in 1978 in Geneva by Shona leaders on what to do with the Ndebele people after they attained independence from Britain,” said Ncube.

According to Ncube, the grand plan explains the infiltration of the Shona people in Matabeleland to destabilise the Ndebele.

“We have over 2 000 000 children across the world in search of greener pastures because they no longer have space in their mother land,” said Sibanda.

Looking back into history, Sibanda said, the Ndebele sovereignty was disrupted by the British South Africa Company when it joined Matabeleland with Mashonaland in 1894. That marked the end of the monarchical system in Zimbabwe and the beginning of suffering of the Ndebele.

“Our pain, troubles and suffering made us look back into history to trace the root cause of this situation we are in,” he said

He believes that to end their (Ndebele) suffering, they need to start where all their troubles began. Their starting point is installing a king.

About 124 years after the disappearance of King Lobengula, a scramble for the Khumalo throne has intensified.

Three individuals, all claiming to be from from the Royal family, are fighting for the Khumalo throne.

So intense is the fight that some have resorted to smear campaigns in the local media while others have rushed to the courts to block installation of those deemed to be not the rightful heir.

In one corner there is Prince Bulelani Collin Khumalo whose history is traced back to the last Ndebele King, Lobengula.

In another corner is Prince Peter Zwidekalanga Khumalo, whose history dates back to Prince Nyamande.

In the third corner is Prince Stanley Raphael Khumalo whose history dates to Hlangabeza the brother of Lobengula.

All three claim to be the rightful heir to the throne leaving many people confused. However, Sibanda said there were traditional systems in place to help point to the rightful heir.

 “There is a traditional practice called Inkatho where Inyanga (traditional healers) will riddle the contestants with umuthi (magic), that way the rightful King will pass and those who are not will fail,” Sibanda said.

Like in the biblical story of Cain and Abel, King Lobengula Khumalo is said to have murdered his brother Hlangabeza who was the rightful heir to the throne and succeeded their father Mzilikazi who also descended the throne of kingship by virtue of his military prowess as articulated by Stanley Raphael Tshuma Khumalo in a story published by

It is in this context that the Mthwakazi Activists base their interpretation of what a king is since it is now over a century without a King in Matabeleland.

Ncube said leadership is neither a position that one holds nor a surname that one has, it is an anointing from God.

A leader, according to Ncube, is supposed to “have people at heart and demonstrate that he/she is willing to go an extra mile for the people. With these qualities anyone is eligible to become the Ndebele King, provided he is Ndebele by origin.” 

“He (king), just like all other kings, will head the state and make final decisions. He is the deputy of God, he gets instructions from God, and he rules by the command of God like Moses, whilst the Ndebele should submit to him.” said Ncube.

According to Ncube, the term Ndebele encompasses all non-Shona speaking tribes in Matabeleland, Zimbabwe.

Philani Mlilo, a historian, said the Ndebele (Khumalo) originated from Zulu land in South Africa, which was under King Tshaka.

The Ndebele king, Mzilikazi, was Tshaka’s trusted induna (chief) who because of ambition broke away from Tshaka after he refused to surrender the gains from the raid in 1822.

History has it that Mzilikazi fled Zulu land with only 300 men and few women and children.
On his way he conquered the Tswana, Xhosa and the Nguni until he finally settled in western Zimbabwe (Matabeleland) in 1840.

He subdued all the people he found in the region into his kingdom. These people identified themselves as the Ndebele.

With this regard, it is clear that the Ndebele or Mthwakazi people do not exist in a vacuum but exist within a country, which is under the leadership of a President.  Also, there are people who are not original Ndebele.

Musani (not his real name), a Nambyan, one of the original tribes of Zimbabwe in Hwange that Mzilikazi found, said if the Ndebele want a King, the Nambyans will also want a King and the whole region should shift from chieftaincies to Kingdoms.

 “This will not solve anything, I still feel oppressed,” he said.

Pastor Mkhululi Tshuma said that it does not matter whether the Ndebele people install a king or not, “we only have one true king who remains, God in heaven.”

The government is also all hands on deck stopping any attempts of inaugurating the Ndebele king on grounds that there is no provision in the constitution that supports the installation of a King.

However, Mthwakazi Activists feel that the government fears for the lives of “its Shona people” that are deployed all over Matabeleland as to where they will go if Mthwakazi succeed in becoming a sovereign nation.

Hlabezulu Malinga, a practising lawyer, confirmed that the government had the right to stop the inauguration of the king. He added that both the government and the Ndebele should amend the constitution so that it recognises kings just as it recognises chiefs.

Not all non-original Ndebele distaste the idea of a King.

Toboka Tshuma (not his real name), a Kalanga from Plumtree, a tribe also under the umbrella term of Ndebele, feels that having a Ndebele King is a blessing.

“If we have a Ndebele King, all our finance headquarters will be in Matabeleland, it will help boost our region in terms of employment creation,” he said.

He added: “If you look in Zimbabwe, people from Mashonaland don’t take us as human beings; that’s why if we meet they speak their language. By having our own King we won’t have our grandparents struggling to speak Shona like in most police stations where they deploy Shona officers.”

Brenda Nozipho Ncube
Umthwakazireview Bulawayo Correspondent

- Source: Breanda Nozipho Ncube, published by


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