The financial affairs of King Goodwill Zwelithini were once again in the spotlight on Tuesday when Premier Willies Mchunu tabled his office’s budget at the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature.
The lack of direction of the Royal Household Trust and lack of accountability and state of the monarch’s farms caused some consternation among the ANC and opposition MPLs.
Mchunu also expressed his own concerns in his budget speech‚ and said he was not pleased with the affairs of the Royal Household Trust and its failure to fundraise for Zwelithini.
Mchunu said the Royal Household – which is now a sub-programme falling under his office following the abolishment of the Royal Household Department in December 2014 – would receive R58.8-million in the 2017/18 year.
However‚ only R16.5-million will be utilised by the Royal Household Trust.
The Office of the Premier‚ whose total budget stands at R742.1-million‚ is the responsible department for the Royal Household Trust and Mchunu said his office will continue to give financial support to the trust to fulfil its mandate.
“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‚” said Mchunu.
He said the R16.5-million for the Royal Household Trust would cater for the remuneration of staff‚ seven board members‚ as well as the queens’ expenses‚ including travel and accommodation.
“The maintenance of the royal palaces is the responsibility of the Royal Household Trust. In addition‚ the Trust provides for other costs such as tuition fees‚ transportation and medical expenses for the royal family‚ as well as the royal farming activities‚” said Mchunu.
The remaining R42-million will assist the king as he partakes in various important ceremonies and traditional functions in the province.
Mchunu said these include the opening of the KZN Provincial Legislature‚ opening of the Traditional House‚ and hosting various traditional events‚ such as the Reed Dance‚ First Fruits ceremony (Umkhosi Woselwa)‚ Amaganu ceremonies‚ and Umkhosi woMama.
“His Majesty‚ the King will also continue to install Amakhosi statutorily and in terms of custom‚” said Mchunu. However‚ despite the concerns‚ the king’s budget was markedly increased from the R48.8-million he received in last year’s budget – which itself had been reduced from R56.5-million in 2015/16.
Opposition parties‚ the IFP and the NFP in particular‚ in their responses to the budget were not pleased with how the Royal Household Trust was operating.
“The department [Trust] is failing to meet its obligations for the most important citizen of this province‚” said IFP leader Blessed Gwala.
The NFP’s Njabulo Mlaba said there was no accountability in the Royal Household Trust.
“Up to now there’s no business plan in the trust and it cannot even fundraise‚” he said.