Royals suspend CEO

2012-02-24 00:00

IN a case of practicising what the king preaches, the KwaZulu-Natal Zulu Household Trust yesterday suspended its chief executive officer for alleged misuse of public funds.

Nkululeko Luthuli, the grandson of Nobel laureate Chief Albert Luthuli, was suspended on full pay with immediate effect pending a full inquiry into the trust’s administrative and financial affairs.

Luthuli, who is also the CEO of the Luthuli Foundation, told The Witness yesterday he had received a letter of suspension.

“I have the letter. I would not be in a position to say what I am suspended for because I don’t know,” he said.

Trust chairperson Judge Jerome Ngwenya said the allegations against Luthuli were “so serious as to warrant his immediate suspension”.

“While we cannot pronounce on the guilt or otherwise of our CEO, it is important that a fair and due process be put in place urgently.”

The allegations against Luthuli surfaced at the weekend ahead of the Zulu monarch’s annual opening of the legislature.

In his speech on Monday, the king urged all citizens to ensure that there was social and government accountability in all public and private sectors.

“We should also ensure that every cent goes to the intended beneficiary and projects,” he said.

Referring to the king’s statement, Ngwenya said: “His majesty’s call for accountability and clean governance refers to all institutions. It is therefore important that the trust which looks after the affairs of the Royal Household Trust heed his message and be among the first to act promptly when there is need to do so.

“We take the king’s call for accountability seriously.”

The judge declined to go into details, but said the allegations against Luthuli included the hiring of cars at the trust’s expense for himself and friends.

“We don’t have figures, but we understand that he was allegedly doing things like hiring cars for himself and his friends and also other personal gains.”

Luthuli, who holds a bachelor of commerce in economics, earns just over R1 million a year as trust CEO.

After receiving the information, members of the trust met on Wednesday and decided that an inquiry should be conducted to verify its truthfulness.

Ngwenya said the investigation would be conducted by a Durban-based law firm, Jafta Incorporated.

The investigators are expected to compile a report in two weeks, Ngwenya said. “If [this] requires us to appoint auditors we will do so swiftly.”

The trust would remain operational and its business would not be affected by the CEO’s suspension, the judge said. The investigators started work yesterday.

Philani Jafta last night told The Witness it would be difficult to say how long the inquiry would take.

The Royal Household Trust was established in 2009 in terms of a 2007 act of the legislature to manage the affairs of the Zulu Royald Household and to ensure its financial independence.

It provides for the royal household, including expenses for the queens and the educational needs of King Goodwill’s children.

It falls under the Royal Household Department in the KwaZulu-Natal office of the premier.

Other trustees include deputy chairperson Prince Mbonisi Zulu, who is also the spokesperson for the Royal Household Trust, businessman Don Mkhwanazi, former MPL and adviser to the premier Cyril Xaba, Nkosi Lily Mpungose, Bonizwe Yaka and Ishwar Ramlutchman.

Ngwenya said that to ensure financial independence, the trust had to pursue investment and business opportunities.

• mlondi.radebe@witness.co.za

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