King Goodwill Zwelithini said during the commemoration of the burning of King Cetshwayo’s palace by British forces 138 years ago that he was entitled to the R58-million budget allocated to him.
The Royal Household, now a subprogramme in the office of the premier after the department of the royal household was abolished, was allocated R58.8 million in the 2016/2017 financial year for the upkeep of the Zulu monarch.
The 69-year-old king, who married his official sixth wife in 2014, is known for his penchant for palatial homes and elaborate traditional celebrations such as the annual reed dance, farms and imported vehicles.
Earlier this year, the media reported that documents in their possession showed that “a new facility being built for Zwelithini near Nongoma could cost R1 billion‚ about eight times more than the R129 million approved for the first phase of the project”.
The project, allegedly intended to “improve the reed-dance venue”‚ included quotations by contractors for the replacement of “poor soil” in the area with “imported suitable soil”.
During the provincial legislature budget vote in April, Premier Willies Mchunu bemoaned poor strategic planning by the Royal Household Trust, the “lack of accountability” and the “state of the monarch’s farms”.
“The Royal Household Trust is fundamentally also responsible for fundraising and commercialisation of the king’s grazing land. So far there has not been any visible achievement in fundraising activities, and this matter will be addressed with the trust as a matter of urgency with a view to improve the work of the trust in this aspect‚” Mchunu said.
The Star reports that Zwelithini berated ‘Zulu journalists’ for the manner in which they reported on the controversial financial affairs of his household, and said perhaps they needed to learn about their own history.
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He then turned to the budget: “Don’t Zulus pay tax? Am I not supposed to this tax from subjects? They [media] don’t understand how I live; I don’t live on that money, I work for myself. That budget you see doesn’t help me at all.”
He also blamed the trust’s rules for keeping him from generating his own income. “I don’t invest that money for my profit. They would never allow that because they know I would generate my own money – money they don’t want me to have.”