King is not amused

2012-09-10 00:00

In a blistering statement yesterday, King Goodwill Zwelithini said through a spokesperson that he was sick and tired of incompetent government officials using the name of the Royal House to hide their ineptitude.

He was referring to a request tabled at last Tuesday’s meeting of the Premier and Royal Household Portfolio Committee in the legislature, for R18 million to build a new palace for the youngest queen at R6 million and R12 million for a new house to be built at the Nyon­keni Palace.

The king said many people would be surprised to learn that all the money that was always said to be budgeted for him, in fact, ended up taking care of the officials of the Royal Household department and did not get to him.

“I have noticed that on several occasions when government officials fail to answer questions relating to their work, they hide behind my name and that of the Royal House. It is not for the first time we hear that officials request money from the government to repair the palaces.”

The king asked why it was taking so long to repair his palaces.

“It does not go down well that year in and year out we are told about one story of the repairs to palaces and, in the process, involving the Royal House’s name and that of the government in controversy.”

The king said the latest reports confirmed “old suspicions and concerns that the Royal House had raised with all the KwaZulu-Natal premiers from 1994 up to now” namely that “some people in the [provincial] royal household department are not well-equipped to run the affairs of the department”.

The Royal House had made several proposals to correct this situation, the latest being the call for a probe on the suitability and qualifications of those employed in this department to do their work efficiently.

The king said he accepted the right of the legislature to play on oversight role over the government’s finances, but added that MPLs would be in better position to do this work if “they spoke about things that they knew and had seen”.

“The legislature is doing its work, which I have an utmost respect for. However, the members themselves need to do an introspection of their conduct because, on several occasions, I have invited them to come and see for themselves the palaces that they always talk about.”

The king said he suspected some of the members thought that the roads that led to the palaces and the doors were made out of gold “as they normally see in other palaces in the world or reading about it in fairy tales”.

He again urged MPLs to visit the palaces to see for themselves and also said he wanted a meeting with KZN director-general Nhlanhla Ngidi to discuss the issue.

Ngidi told The Witness that he was not aware of anyone in the Royal Household department that was “not equipped” to do the job.

“I have never been approached [by the Royal House] about anyone not being equipped.

“Everyone hired by the department is hired according to the appropriate qualification.

“I am not saying the king has never said that. I only became the acting head late last year.

“It has never been raised in the time that I have been there. It might have happened before my time,” Ngidi said.

On the allegation that most of the money budgeted by the department was used to pay salaries of officials instead, Ngidi said: “People get hired and people need to get paid”.

Ngidi acknowledged that it was not the king who made the request for funds but the Royal Household department.

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