King has lion’s share

2012-09-25 00:00

WHILE all other monarchs in South Africa receive stipends of R978 321 a year, the KwaZulu-Natal Royal Household Department, which looks after King Goodwill Zwelithini and his family, received a R59 million budget for the 2012/2013 financial year.

And until this situation was addressed — in the form of a framework which levelled the playing field for traditional leaders — there would always be complaints that Zwelithini was favoured over other kings, the Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa (Contralesa) said at the weekend.

Contralesa head Phathekile Holomisa was reported in the Citizen as saying that Zwelithini received preferential treatment from the government.

“The Zulu king is treated differently from the Pondo king, the Pedi king, the Ndebele king and the Venda king,” he said.

However, when contacted by The Witness, Holomisa said he was not complaining about Zwelithini, but saying that the government should have a framework in place to afford traditional leaders of the same rank similar privileges and benefits.

“There will always be complaints when you find that the king in a particular province enjoys more benefits than other kings in the same rank, who don’t get their cars and homes being paid for by the state,” he said.

Judge Jerome Ngwenya, deputy chairperson of the Ingonyama Trust, which administers vast tracts of land on behalf of Zwelithini, said the Zulu king had always enjoyed more benefits because the KZN government had passed legislation recognising him as the province’s sole monarch.

He said legislation allowed provinces to determine how they provided for their traditional leaders.

“Our king is the only monarch who controls land in this country, and he has more than 200 traditional leaders that owe him allegiance. This is more than can be said about all the other kings in the country.

“It doesn’t mean that just because one is a king his kingdom is equal to that of the Zulu monarch.”

Ngwenya said the king’s status and privileges had also been secured by the Zulu royal house’s participation in the Codesa talks before the advent of democracy.

He disputed reports that Zwelithini had spent R150 000 of taxpayers’ money at a plush hotel during a recent stay in Durban, and that R2,8 million of the public purse had bought him 40 cattle.

He said the king had not slept at the hotel, and had used his own money to buy the cattle.

The KZN commissioner for Traditional Leadership Disputes and Claims, Professor Jabulani Maphalala, said a framework governing traditional leaders’ privileges and benefits should be informed by historical context.

“It must also be informed by how many subjects a king has in his kingdom, because the Zulu monarch currently has about 25% of the South African population under his kingdom,” he said.

Maphalala said Zwelithini was the 25th Zulu monarch. “History will tell you that it was the English who first recognised the need to compensate this kingdom in 1898, when the then King Dinizulu was paid £500 after his release from St Helena,” he said.

Maphalala said there was nothing untoward about Zwelithini’s status and benefits, because everything was done by the book.

“People who now claim to be monarchs in other provinces must also present documents that show if there is historical evidence to equate them to the Zulu kingdom,” he said.

Traditional Affairs national director-general Professor Charles Maile said the Independent Commission on Public Office Bearers had established a framework for traditional leaders’ remuneration and benefits.

“This forms the basis for norms and standards that must be applied equitably for all traditional leaders in their various leadership positions,” he said.

Ndabe Sibiya, spokesperson in the Office of Premier Zweli Mkhize, where the Royal Household Department is located, said the office would not comment until the matter had been discussed by the premier and other relevant authorities.

Zwelithini’s spokesperson, Prince Mbonisi Zulu, said he would comment on the issue after meeting traditional leaders who represent the king at Contralesa.

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