It is “foolish” to expect other kings in the country to earn as much as Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini because one cannot allow a Standard 9 (Grade 11) learner to skip to the level of a first year university student.
This is according to Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) national chairperson Blessed Gwala, adding that the IFP fought that the kingship be maintained at a high standard. “The past governments of homelands with royal leadership did not care for their own kings when the Apartheid government reduced them to paramount chiefs.”
King Zwelithini was allocated R54.2 million by the department of royal affairs for the 2014/2015 financial year. The other kings in the country are allocated about R1.03 million a year.
Gwala told The Citizen that in the the dispensations of power in the new democracy to traditional leaders, the Zulu king was already at that level where he deserved his status and wealth. “According to the [apartheid] government, the king was to be a paramount chief, but it was the IFP’s work that ensured that the king was where he is.”
He clarified that he meant no disrespect to other traditional leaders in the country when he said other kingdoms “didn’t care for their own kings”.
“You can’t be a manager of a company for a day and expect to earn the same salary as someone who has been manager for years.”
“We took it from nothing and the IFP did the best they could to give the status afforded to the king,” Gwala said.
The influence of the IFP and other politics was partly corroborated by Dr Mbongiseni Buthelezi of the Research Initiative in Archive and Public Culture in Social Anthropology at the University of Cape Town.
“The political context in which this has been made possible dates back to the time before the end of apartheid,” Buthelezi said.
He said there was a deal that was struck in 1994 that was made by the IFP, in which a law was passed three days before the elections, and it resulted in the Ingonyama Trust, where the king is the sole trustee.
“All the land in the Bantustan was transferred to the trust. A third of the land of the land in KZN effectively belonged to the king,” Buthelezi said.
“Another part of the reason is that there was struggle between the IPF and ANC,” Buthelezi added. “The ANC was trying to shake loose the grip of the IFP on the king.”
The ANC attempted to claim power for national government over the remuneration for the king and other traditional leaders, but the IFP won the case, and decisions over remunerations were then kept at provincial level, Buthelezi said.
“The case by the IFP-led KwaZulu-Natal against national government in 1996 had the effect of leaving the determination of the remuneration of traditional leaders in the hands of provinces. Hence there is no national uniformity,” he said.
Constitutional law expert Marinus Wiechers said the matter of how much the Zulu king could earn above other kings still had to be put up for debate.
He added: “There are indeed huge discrepancies.”
Dr Mbongiseni Buthelezi concluded: “The key question we are yet to answer adequately as a country is whether or not kings and other traditional leaders should be supported by taxpayers.”
The allocation of allowance for the king in the KwaZulu-Natal provincial legislature is expected to be contested soon.