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South Africa: uncertainty surrounding Zulu king’s health

King Misuzulu ka Zwelithini, centre, flanked by fellow warriors in traditional dress at the KwaKhangelamankengane Royal Palace, during a ceremony, in Nongoma, May 7, 2021.   -  
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South Africa

Uncertainty reigned on Sunday over the health of South Africa's Zulu king, the head of the country's most influential traditional monarchy, with his spokesman denying reports he had been hospitalised.

Misuzulu Zulu, 48, ascended the throne last year after the death of his father, Goodwill Zwelithini, amid a bitter feud over the royal succession.

Overnight on Saturday, the influential Zulu prime minister, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, said in a press release that the monarch had been hospitalised in the neighbouring country of Eswatini after falling ill.

The king believe he was being poisoned, after the sudden and unexpected death of one of his close advisers on Saturday, he said.

Although the title of king of the Zulu nation does not bestow executive power, the monarchs wield 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.

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