President Cyril Ramaphosa has found himself embroiled in a royal fight after he announced the new rain queen in Tzaneen at the weekend.
The announcement sparked a war of words in the clan about the rightful heir to Africa’s only female monarchy.
One side of the family, the Mokotos, who also claim to be the rightful heirs to the throne, accused Ramaphosa of playing with fire by announcing the future queen from the Modjadji side of the family. They vowed to block the crowning of the young queen.
The rift followed a visit by Ramaphosa and former president Jacob Zuma to Tzaneen to celebrate the official restoration of the queenship, reversing the apartheid government’s demotion of the rain queen to the status of a chieftain in 1972.
At the ceremony, Ramaphosa announced the queen-to-be, Masalanabo Modjadji, 13, would be crowned after she turns 18, having undergone the rites of passage for rulership.
The clan has been without a rain queen since the death of Rain Queen VI Makobo Modjadji, the mother of the new queen, in 2005.
But at the function on Saturday, a senior member of the Mokoto family called the Modjadjis “thieves”. He claimed the Modjadjis stole the queenship of the Balobedu clan from the Mokotos in 1960, after the death of the head of their family, Phetole Wailess Mokoto.
“Ramaphosa is playing with fire. They will not crown the child because she is not the rightful heir to the throne,” the Mokoto family member said yesterday.
“The Mokotos will fight until the last drop of our blood to ensure the dynasty comes back to its rightful owners.”
The family’s request for the Modjadji dynasty to be revoked has been put before Limpopo premier Stan Mathabatha, he added.
But Mathabatha’s spokesperson, Kenny Mathivha, said the Mokotos must approach the Tolo Commission and the department of cooperative governance, housing and traditional affairs, which deals with traditional leadership disputes.
Modjadji royal family spokesperson Phetole Mampeule dismissed the Mokotos’ claims as baseless.
“The first rain queen of the Balobedu was Maselekwane, followed by Masalanabo, Khesethwane, Makoma, Mokope and then Makobo.
“These female monarchs ruled from 1894 after arriving in South Africa from Zimbabwe, then Rhodesia, until now.
“The Mokotos’ claims are baffling,” he said.