King Goodwill Zwelithini is getting more money. KwaZulu-Natal Premier Willies Mchunu announced during his budget vote for the 2018/19 financial year in the provincial legislature in Pietermaritzburg on Thursday that the Zulu monarch’s annual budget has been increased by R7-million‚ from R58.8-million last year to R65.8-million this year.
Zwelithini – who has has often come under fire for his lavish spending – has maintained that he was entitled to the budget as it was derived from tax revenue generated by his subjects.
The premier’s office is responsible for the king’s support and the royal family‚ as well as the royal household trust which was established to make the Zulu royal family self-sustainable.
Mchunu said the royal household has been allocated R65‚8-million for this financial year‚ without elaborating on how the money would be spent. He also did not reveal how much will be allocated to the royal household trust.
Mchunu said during his speech that King Zwelithini would participate in various important ceremonies and traditional functions‚ such as the reed dance and first fruits ceremonies‚ which are all funded by the state.
He said his office would continue to support the royal household trust‚ whose responsibilities include the upkeep of the king’s eight palaces‚ tuition for his children‚ transportation and medical care of the royal family. The trust is also responsible for the upkeep of the king’s farms.
“We are committed to ensuring that there will be much sharper focus on revenue generating activities of the royal household trust in the current financial year. A revenue generating plan has been development to pursue public-private partnerships in exploring opportunities to utilise the Zulu royal household brand as a potential source of income to relieve the trust’s dependency on the provincial fiscus‚” said Mchunu.
However‚ he said the provincial government would ensure that King Zwelithini and the royal family are treated with the “dignity and respect and that the support received is commensurate with the position of being a monarch and custodian of Zulu traditional leadership”.
Early this year‚ in a bid to make the king and his family self-sustainable‚ it was announced that the royal household trust would be spending R650‚000 on a brand makeover of the Zulu king. The trust said it was planning to hire US-based consulting firm B&C International to handle the rebranding of the Zulu monarch.
The plan was contained in the trust’s revenue generation plan‚ which was presented to the Office of the Premier portfolio committee meeting.
The trust was allocated an additional R5-million to start fundraising initiatives so that in future it does not depend on government funding. The plan indicated that the trust had allocated R650‚000 “to elevate the global brand‚ status and image of His Majesty” with a view to attracting foreign investment.
The trust’s chief financial officer‚ Bonginkosi Qunta‚ said this would enable the trust to identify and attract foreign investment opportunities that will strengthen the economic viability of the monarchy.
The trust was established by former KwaZulu-Natal Premier S’bu Ndebele in 2007‚ and millions of rands of taxpayers’ money was pumped in for the king’s upkeep and that of his six wives and their children.
However‚ during the official opening of the KwaZulu-Natal legislature in March‚ the king‚ who receives an annual salary of over R1-million‚ said the trust had failed and he did not benefit from it.
“I’m not getting paid from the budget of the Royal Household Trust. Maybe some people think I am getting a salary‚” he said.
The king complained he was also not consulted about how the budget was allocated.
“I always worry that no one comes to me to explain how the royal household budget is going to be like‚ but when monies have been misspent the insults are directed at me and the Zulu royal family‚” he said.
Mchunu said on Thursday if the plan to make the trust self-sustainable does not yield any results‚ the provincial government will have to review its desirability.
“There is no proper plan for fundraising that was in place. Otherwise the trust cannot perform on its own without fundraising. Once that happens‚ we will then firm a decision. If it doesn’t work‚ the executive council will have to think twice about the desirability of the trust‚” he said.
Opposition parties have also raised concerns about the viability to the trust.
IFP leader in the legislature Blessed Gwala said: “It’s very absurd because right from the beginning when they dissolved the royal household department we said this thing is going to give us a hell of a problem because there will be no funding from anywhere.
“That’s why there is this entity‚ but at the same time they take money from the same government. So I don’t think that plan is going to work unless they convince us as portfolio committee members that indeed there are such funds coming from somewhere.”
Democratic Alliance leader in KwaZulu-Natal‚ Zwakele Mncwango‚ said there were still problem areas with the trust “which has shown itself to be both disorganised and unaccountable”.
“Despite being in operation for two years‚ there is still no evidence of the value this entity has brought to the king‚ or the citizens of the province. This government should not isolate the king from the people‚ meaning the trust should link the well-being of the king and the people‚” he said.