King Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu. Image credit

ZIMSEC O Level History Notes: The Zulu State: Political Organisation of the Zulu State

  • The smallest political unit was the kraal or village and it was under the rule of a kraal head or umnumzane.
  • The kraal head dealt with disputes and quarrels
  • The kraal head was under the district head isiGodi
  • The isiGodi was in charge of a large area called isiFunda and one induna
  • Shaka was the image of the law
  • The king represented the tribal ancestors and therefore officiated at all ceremonies in the land
  • The king represented the kingdom
  • Shaka had all the legislative, judicial and political powers
  • The king was responsible for land distribution
  • Shaka appointed his female relative to administer female regiments
  • Shaka appointed his relatives in all the important positions
  • Shaka ‘s rule was by custom with little opportunity for legislation
  • After the inxwala ceremony, the laws were announced publicly especially those to do with marriage and campaigns that the king had decided upon
  • The king could not order the killing of a subject unless they were found guilty of an offense and this limited the powers of the king
  • The king ruled with councilors who were heads of families of influence called indunas
  • The indunas were divided into two groups, one dealing with the military whilst the other in administration issues
  • The councilors had to reside at the royal court for a certain period and offer their services to the king
  • This helped the king in state surveillance and also so that he knew what was happening even in the most remote areas of the kingdom
  • The king employed royal spies who were stationed everywhere in the state
  • Besides the indunas ther were also other important men who were favourites at the royal kraal even but did not hold official positions known as isiLomo and umSengi
  • The Zulu subjects paid tribute to their king in terms of livestock, iron tools, grains, minerals among others
    Shaka also received tribute from vassal chiefs
  • The king could collect cattle from his subjects at any time to feed his council and army
  • The king could also collect tax from subjects irregularly in the form of mats, labour and thatching grass

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