A royal marriage of convenience
IN the midst of the ongoing infighting for the AbaThembu chieftaincy, details have emerged of how a 2002 marriage to a Zulu princess was allegedly used to elevate the status of one of the chiefs who wanted to become king.
The wedding brought together two royal families with different cultures and traditions.
The Zulu princesss, Nandi, is the daughter of Queen Buhle Mathe and the first daughter of Zwelithini to tie the knot.
Chief Mfundo Bhovulengwe Mtirara is the son of Xhosa Chief Zwelakhe and Nobantu Mtirara and a nephew of former president Nelson Mandela.
The news that the marriage was a strategic move on Mitirara's part came to light when Sunday World was investigating claims that the AbaThembu nation paid the ilobola for the marriage.
However, it seems the money for the ilobola was a loan from Meeg Bank in Mthatha.
This was revealed this week by Thabo Jennings, a palace confidante, who solicited the loan and led the Abathembu delegation to the Zulu royal palace and was refuting claims that the AbaThembu nation paid the ilobola.
He said one of the royal houses was used as security to secure the loan.
"Not a single AbaThembu chief contributed towards ilobolo. I personally made an overdraft from the bank and transported the cattle with my trucks.
"No assistance whatsoever came from the other chiefs," he says.
AbaThembu's King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo is disputing Mtirara's right to be chief.
Shortly after Mtirara tied the knot with Nandi Zulu, Dalindyebo alleged that an influential group of people formed a cabal, whose influence was used to solicit funds from government to build a palace for the newlyweds in preparation for Mtirara to take over the throne.
Mtirara says the Eastern Cape local government and traditional affairs department paid at least R1m to refurbish his house.
Dalindyebo alleges in affidavits in the Mthatha High Court that the "dummy marriage could not stand reality" (sic) as the couple parted ways after two years.
Sources close to Mtirara's family in Maty'engqina Great Place near Mthatha say Nandi left without even notifying the AbaThembu royal family.
When Sunday World tracked her down she said: "No, I am not the wife of Abathembu anymore."
Asked to comment further, Nandi said: "I don't have a mandate to speak about these issues.
"If I continue to speak to you I will be punished by my family.
"The issues you're asking me about are personal, so they do not concern you. Leave them alone."
Nandi says she left her ex husband eight years ago and she finds it strange that he still refers to her as his wife.
Nandi flatly refuses to comment on whether she is aware that her marriage was one of convenience in order for Mtirara to ascend the throne.
"Please follow protocol. I will say no more."
When asked about the breakdown of his marriage, Mtirara denied he and his wife were estranged.
"I'm still married to my Princess Nandi, she is still my wife both legally and customarily and I don't know what you are talking about," he said.