S.Africa’s Zulu king says ‘fit’, denies being poisonedMon, 03 Jul 2023 20:31:34 GMT

The Zulu king, head of South Africa’s most influential traditional monarchy, said on Monday he was “fit and sound,” and denied rumours he had been poisoned.”I’m very well, I’m very fit and sound,” Misuzulu Zulu told AFP in a phone interview from the neighbouring country of Eswatini, where he is undergoing a medical check-up.The 48-year-old king ascended the throne last year after the death of his father, Goodwill Zwelithini, after a bitter feud over the royal succession.Over the weekend, the influential Zulu prime minister, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, said that the monarch had been hospitalised in Eswatini after falling ill.Buthelezi said there were “suspicions that he was poisoned,” after the unexpected death of one of his close advisers, believed to have ingested a toxic substance. But asked by AFP if he was ever in a hospital the king said “never”.”It was a procedural routine check-up that I do every three months, sometimes every six months,” he said in a terse interview.The royal spokesman, Prince Africa Zulu, told AFP on Monday that the Zulu king had spent the day working, including meeting a Chinese delegation, but gave no further details.The spokesman later shared a video in which the king said he had suffered “no poisoning whatsoever.”He also said it was not confirmed that his aide had been poisoned.The king said he needed to be away from home to process the loss of his “right-hand man” and he chose Eswatini, where his uncle King Mswati III reigns. The timing of the trip also coincided with his regular health checkups.”It’s not because I’m poisoned, I’m well, I feel 100 percent (well)… everything is well functioning, there’s nothing wrong with me,” he said in the video clip.He also said he would launch an investigation into the weekend reports about his health.Buthelezi had claimed that the current king preferred treatment in Eswatini because “his parents had both received treatment in South Africa and subsequently died”.Last September, another counsellor of the Zulu king was shot dead in mysterious circumstances on the sidelines of a traditional ceremony.Although the title of king of the Zulu nation does not bestow executive power, the monarch wields great moral influence over more than 11 million Zulus, who make up nearly a fifth of South Africa’s population of 60 million people.King Zwelithini, who died after more than 50 years in charge, left six wives and at least 28 children.Misuzulu is the first son of Zwelithini’s third wife, who he designated as regent in his will. The queen however died suddenly a month after Zwelithini, leaving a will naming Misuzulu as the next king — a development that did not go down well with other family members.