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South Africa’s Zulu King Denies Being Poisoned

The King of the Zulus, South Africa’s most powerful customary ruler, says he was “in good shape” after the sudden death of one of his close advisers sparked fears of poisoning.

“I’m very well, I’m fit and strong,” said Misuzulu Zulu by telephone on Monday from the small neighbouring state of Eswatini, where he is undergoing medical examinations.

Misuzulu Zulu, 48, also known as Misuzulu kaZwelithini, acceded to the throne last year on the death of his father, Goodwill Zwelithini, following a bitter family succession battle.

King Zwelithini, who died after reigning for more than 50 years, left behind six wives and at least 28 children.

In a statement released on Saturday night, the influential traditional Zulu Prime Minister, Mangosuthu Buthelezi, said he had been informed that Misuzulu Zulu had been hospitalised “after falling ill earlier on Saturday”.

Questioned by AFP, the king said on Monday that he had “never” been hospitalised in recent days. “It was a routine check-up that I have every three months, sometimes every six months”, he said.

The king’s spokesman, Prince Africa Zulu, had said on Sunday that the sovereign had undergone “thorough” medical examinations in Eswatini after the sudden death of one of his close advisers, which led to fears of poisoning, and that he was “in perfect health”.

On Monday, the spokesman told AFP that the king had spent the day at work, meeting a Chinese delegation in particular, without giving any further details.

On Sunday, Prince Africa Zulu denounced an “orchestrated attempt” to circulate “unfounded information about His Majesty’s health”.

He added that the King had preferred to be treated in Eswatini rather than in South Africa, where both his parents “were treated and died”, expressing his “great concern”.

The King’s spokesman did not specify when Misuzulu Zulu was due to return to South Africa.

In the southern African country, sovereigns and traditional chiefs are recognised by the Constitution. Kings with no executive powers, they exercise profound moral authority and are revered by their people. The country of 11 official languages has 11 million Zulus, almost one in five South Africans.

In September, a Misuzulu Zulu councillor was mysteriously shot dead on the sidelines of a traditional ceremony.

Source : africanews