Associated Press

September 21, 1994

NONGOMA, South Africa (AP) -- The king of South Africa's largest tribe picked a chief adviser Wednesday who is aligned with the government of Nelson Mandela, widening the rift with Zulu nationalists.

Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini severed ties Tuesday with nationalist leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi, raising fears of renewed clashes in the Zulu homeland.

Buthelezi's Inkatha Freedom Party has strong support among South Africa's 7 million Zulus. But many Zulus support Mandela's African National Congress.

The rivalry between Inkatha and ANC supporters has killed more than 10,000 people in five years. There were fears the rift between Buthelezi and the king could touch off more violence if the king is perceived to be aligning with the ANC.

The South African army dispatched troops Wednesday to guard the king, the South African Press Association reported. It was not immediately clear how many soldiers had been sent, and Nongoma was calm.

Under Zulu tradition, the king commands the loyalty of all Zulus, making the break a potentially harmful one for Buthelezi, the dominant force in Zulu politics for four decades.

The king's relations with Buthelezi had been strained over Buthelezi's use of the monarchy as a rallying point for Zulu nationalism.

The king has met repeatedly with ANC officials since elections in April brought the ANC to power. A dispute over an invitation the king extended to Mandela to attend a Zulu festival this weekend led to the split with Buthelezi.

On Wednesday, a Zulu prince who is a legislator for the African National Congress declared himself Buthelezi's replacement and said the king is washing his hands of politics -- and Buthelezi.

"Buthelezi is now against the king. He is against the royal family. In fact, the Zulu royal family is now against him," Prince Mcwayizeni Zulu said.

The ANC, locked in a bloody rivalry with Inkatha, has struggled to persuade Zwelithini to live up to his claim that as a monarch he is above politics.

"Buthelezi's mistake was in taking the Zulu royal house into politics," Zulu told The Associated Press. "But now it is clear to the king he must stay away from politics."

Zulu, a senior prince and the king's uncle, was pushed from the king's inner circle more than a decade ago in a power struggle with Buthelezi. He said Wednesday that he had reclaimed his place as the "most powerful member of the Zulu royal family, after the king."

Buthelezi said on South African television Tuesday night that he remained the king's "loyal subject." But he has refused to comment further on his relations with the king, saying Zwelithini has not yet personally informed him of any decision to cut ties.