Rifts in Bapedi nation over appointment of Queen Mother as regent

The appointment of Queen Mother Manyaku Thulare as the reigning regent has sown divisions within the Bapedi nation again. Thulare is the mother of the late King Victor Thulare III, and her appointment comes amid the succession battle which has raged on barely two months since the death of Thulare III, who died of Covid-19 complications in January.

Manyaku was inaugurated as the acting ruler last week. However, a faction of the Royal Council decided to appoint Morwamohube Ernest Thulare, who is the former king’s half-brother and the Queen Mother’s stepson, as acting king at a tribal meeting in Mohlaletse in Limpopo, last month.

The faction plans to officially announce the 56-year-old’s ascension as the new regent this week, saying Morwamohube is the first-born son of the late King Rhyne Sekhukhune III. The process to appoint a king at the Bapedi nation is no stranger to controversy over the years.

In 2018, the North Gauteng High Court dismissed former acting Bapedi King, Kgagudi Kenneth Sekhukhune’s application for leave to appeal, a judgment that stripped him of power after he had been acting for years following the death of Rhyne Sekhukhune, who is Thulare’s father.

This paved way for his nephew Thulare III to ascend the thrown and take over from his father Rhyne. He was finally recognised by President Cyril Ramaphosa as the rightful heir to the throne last year, but died seven months later, which opened up another succession battle.

A spokesperson for the Royal House, Ntoampe Mampuru, dismissed the claims from the Morwamohube faction, asking why he was not installed as king after Rhyne.

“From the royal house we are not going to get into competition. If they feel we have done wrong, they must take legal steps. Why did they not take over the reign after Rhyne. What qualities does he have to claim the kingship? His mother married somewhere else, and they don’t have a leg to stand on,” said Mampuru.

Mampuru added that the kingship was in the era of the late Thulare III who had already married two wives and not that of Rhyne.

“When we talk about the kingship now, we are talking about the Thulare era. The Rhyne era is gone and so is the Sekhukhune era,” the spokesperson said.

A spokesperson for Morwamohube, Makoko Sekhukhune, said the appointment of the Queen Mother was senseless as she was an old woman and unable to bear children. Makoko said the Bakgoma and Bakgomana decided unanimously in a meeting that Morwamohube would be acting king. He said he wonders why there was such an inauguration and asked how the Queen Mother would be able to give birth to any children at her age. He added that her appointment was by ordinary people and not the Royal Council.

“He (Morwamohube) is the first son of Rhyne and in our custom should be the next heir apparent for the throne. The law will decide on this one because we have followed procedure and our customs, and the process have been kickstarted. They are taking chances with us. Morwamohube has to raise a seed for the house of the late King Thulare Victor Thulare III’s wife to be married soon after the approval of his appointment,” Sekhukhune said.

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