KING Goodwill Zwelithini has been battling to make ends meet and keep the Dstv and lights burning in his seven palaces because the money given to the Royal Household Trust for the monarch’s welfare was not enough.
The Trust’s chairperson Professor Sihawu Ngubane said they were “under strain” and “not managing at all” with their allocated funds and were determined to start making their own money soon.
“Sometimes the money doesn’t last for the entire financial period so we have to play around with what we receive.”
Premier Sihle Zikalala this week said just over R66 million was set aside for the royal household during the 2019/20 financial year of which R19m would go towards the Royal Household Trust.
Zikalala’s spokesperson Bongani Tembe said the royal budget remained largely unchanged from the one approved last year.
“There was a once-off allocation for renovations at the palaces, otherwise the budget would have remained the same,” said Tembe.
Ngubane said the bulk of the money remained under the control of the Office of the Premier, while the R19m received by the Royal Household Trust was also supposed to cover groceries, medical aid, petrol, diesel, six vehicles as well as car hire when the vehicles broke down.
“When I say it’s not enough I mean that sometimes there is unforeseen expenditure that we have to cater for,” said Ngubane.
He said King Zwelithini was in London where he met with Britain’s Prince Charles and some of those costs also came out of the budget of the Royal Household Trust.
Following the budget announcement this week, political parties again questioned when the royal household would become financially independent.
EFF provincial chairperson Vusi Khoza said the mandate of the Royal Household Trust was to explain how the royal household would raise funds.
“Instead we end up bailing out the Royal Trust. That is fruitless and wasteful expenditure,” he said.
Khoza said there was no breakdown of how the R66m apportioned to the royal household would be spent.
“That amounts to R5.5m a month which is a lot of money,” he said.
However, Ngubane said a strategic planning session was held to identify projects which would make the trust profitable. Their plans included farming, manufacturing and property.
“We will be leasing property. We are looking for buildings that can generate an income and we want to start before the end of the financial year,” said Ngubane.
The DA’S provincial leader Zwakhele Mncwango said the government was not transparent enough when it came to how the money was spent.
“We don’t demand answers from the king, we want the government to account. We are in a complex situation where we are dealing with a democratic government with a monarchy.”
Mncwango said ideally more money should be spent on infrastructure development.
Tim Tyrrell of the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) – said: “The writing is on the wall.
“That money should be allocated to the household when they have the wherewithal to be self-sufficient.
“Human nature says if I’m going to get money for nothing, we’ll take it rather than work for it.”
Tyrrell said while he fully recognised the standing and stature of the royal household which was perfectly legitimate, however, other monarchies around the world were successful and wealthy.
“We are a civil society organisation that has to hold the government to account, we have to do this in a sensible and professional way.
“If we find fruitless and wasteful expenditure then we get involved.
“We work on constructive platforms with government departments to bring about good governance,” said Tyrrell.
Despite repeated attempts, the IFP could not be reached for comment.
THE vast complexities of dealing with a budget dedicated to a monarch in a democratic environment cannot be under-estimated. However, nor can the importance of dealing with this often controversial issue in an open and honest manner while at the same time acknowledging the ever-increasing fiscal pressure the people of our country and our province are under.
While the DA respects and recognises the role of the monarch in Kwazulu-natal, we are also aware of our constitutional duty to ensure transparency and accountability from KZN’S Anc-led government.
Such accountability is also needed to protect the king, who we believe is often the scapegoat of the ANC when it comes to financial matters and who has also regrettably become something of a “political football” in KZN. While most KZN political parties see an issue with transparency when it comes to the royal household budget, they won’t raise the issue. Instead, they wait for the DA to do so and resort to racist and emotional blackmail.
The issue of the king’s budget was once again firmly in the spotlight during this week’s provincial legislature budget debates. The royal household budget is R66.7 million per annum, with an additional R19m allocated to the Royal Household Trust. KZN’S Arts and Culture Department then allocates R27m to cover ceremonies. Then there is the monthly stipend from national government given his role and funding provided by KZN’S Agri-business Development Agency for one of his farms.
Despite the size of this budget, the king does not seem happy. In September 2017, he was quoted as saying his R1m salary and R60m-odd budget per annum were “not enough”.
At the same time, he complained he was also not consulted about how the budget was allocated and when monies were misspent, he and his family always bore the brunt.
The issue was raised again during his 2018 address prior to the State of the Province Address, when he said: “I welcome that, as the government and legislature makers, you are taking decisions based on what you have seen at that particular time. One of the decisions you have taken was regarding the Royal Household Trust. It is my appeal that you look at it carefully, whether it is still wise to have this trust. Currently, the trust offices are based in ethekwini, but the work and royal palaces they supposed to look after are in Kwanongoma.”
He also said: “Another appeal to you is to look closely at the budget allocated for the royal house. It always worries me that no one consults me about the budget, but when monies disappear the insults are directed to me and the royal house. I have requested this house to send a delegation to investigate the R10m that was used at Emachobeni Palace in Ngwavuma.
“That palace was not built from scratch, but it was renovated. However, even today the renovations do not match R10m. That’s why I encourage Public Works to take over the maintenance of government buildings.”
To understand the king’s comments, it is necessary to understand how the budget is managed:
The R66.7m, transferred from the KZN Office of the Premier is used for events which include hosting religious bodies at Enyokeni palace. It is also used to host some cultural and heritage events
The R19m, also from the Office of the Premier, is transferred to the Royal Household Trust. This funding provides for the queens’ expenses and includes travel and accommodation, tuition fees, transportation and medical expenses for members of the royal family. The trust is also mandated to maintain the palaces and manages some of the farming activities, such as providing feed and vet care for the king’s cattle.
A sum of R27m, transferred from the KZN Department of Arts and Culture, is also used for celebrations such as the Reed Dance and the First Fruits ceremony, among others. Local municipalities provide transport to these events from their own coffers.
The DA believes the question is not so much whether the king needs more or less money. It is about where the money goes and, more specifically, what KZN’S people are paying for. In this regard, the critical questions that need answering are:
Where is the trust, the entity established in 2009/10 to run the financial and other affairs of the Zulu monarch? Members of the provincial legislature were made to believe the trust board is dysfunctional and that there is no business model, while KZN continues to pour public money into areas such as the king’s farms and taking care of his cattle. These should be commercial activities where the trust can make money. When will the trust start doing its work and ensure that the royal household and his majesty can be independent by generating some form of revenue?
The DA believes the answers to the problems around the king’s funding are simple. To begin with, the trust must be revived and it must fulfil its mandate. Following this, any funds to do with the king must be allocated and administered by the trust so accountability begins and ends with the trust. It is critical that all royal-related financing be brought under one budget. The situation of different allocations from different areas makes no sense and leaves the budget open to mismanagement. These are public funds and those who administer them must be held to account. Yet they are not.
The DA does not question the relevance of the king – we question the efficacy of the trust.
The DA remains committed to holding the Office of the Premier and all other KZN government departments to account on any expenditure of public funds. This is not the first time and it certainly won’t be the last.
– Sunday Tribune