King shows his hand

2015-02-27 00:00

KING Goodwill Zwelithini has finally broken his silence on allegations of mismanagement of the Zulu Royal Household’s purse.

Officially opening the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature in Pietermaritzburg yesterday, the king invited the government to do a ­thorough investigation of the household’s state of affairs.

He lambasted the media and government officials for “bad-mouthing the Royal Household using his name”, adding that the “malicious reports” were not only an insult to him, but also to his forefathers.

The Royal Household Department and the monarch and his family have often been criticised for the way they handle their finances.

In December, the Sunday Times reported that the king, who receives R54,2 million in annual support from the government, was too broke to afford groceries.

The Mercury also reported earlier this month that taxpayers have been footing the bill for staff who were no longer employed by the Royal Household.

“Newspapers reported last year that something was amiss in the handling of the Royal Household funds. I take these allegations very seriously … And that is why I have opened my doors for you to come and investigate if what is reported to you by the [portfolio] committees reflects what is happening in the house.”

Addressing the allegations about the staff, he said, “I want you to give yourselves time to visit the palaces to count the staff working there and check how much they earn.

“People keep saying that there are millions coming into the monarch.

“I want to ask them, if there is so much money coming in, then why haven’t I bought myself a private jet?”

What irked him the most, he said, was people writing about him without getting his side of the story.

“People are always talking about the royal family, but no one has ever come and asked me about the staff or how the money is spent. I am human too, you know.

“The only time I hear about the staff is when someone has been fired because they had done something fraudulent,” he said.

Zwelithini urged government officials to do their jobs properly.

“My job is not to keep quiet when negative things are being said about the monarch. The reports are not only an insult to me, but to my forefathers,” he said, adding that the government should not be afraid to engage constructively with the royal family.

“The danger is when people talk without knowing the background. People think that the monarch is just splurging taxpayers’ money.

Zwelithini told officials that he was not scolding them, but “speaking to them as a father”.

“Children need to be disciplined; I don’t mean to embarrass you. My wish is for peace between the monarch and government.

“The monarch has always been there. ­Politics came after the monarch, so the ­monarch must be respected, even by the

government,” he said.

“WHITES must relax. We are not going to chase you away like it’s being done in other African countries.”

This was the assurance given yesterday by King Goodwill Zwelithini at the opening of the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature. However, he added that he would continue to claim land that belonged to the Zulus, “whether people like it or not”.

It was reported last year that Zwelithini and his amakhosi were launching South Africa’s biggest land claim for land that was under control of the Zulus in 1838. The multibillion-rand claim is reportedly being planned and co-ordinated by the Ingonyama Trust.

“I want you to know that we will continue to put in the request and those that oppose the request must follow proper procedures to oppose our request,” said the king.

He said the Zulu monarch does not want to pay rent but wants to own the land. “We know that there are many people in government that have claimed land for themselves. There are people who have bought farms to enrich themselves. We are not going to chase anyone away from the land; people can continue to live on the land. But we want you to know that we want our land back.”

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