Zulu King wants help with crumbling palaces

2008-02-13 00:00

ZULU King Goodwill Zwelithini has complained about the state of his palaces and called on the provincial government to intervene. “You cannot tell that those are the palaces befitting a king of a nation as big as ours,” he said adding that they are “dilapidated”.

Speaking at the opening of the legislature at the Royal Showgrounds yesterday, Zwelithini offered an open invitation for members of the legislature’s standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) to visit the palaces to “witness first-hand the damage” he was referring to.

The Royal Household department has been hauled over the coals by Scopa on several occasions for wasteful expenditure and not having proper records. The King displayed his sense of humour when he went on to thank Scopa, even though they gave his department a difficult time.

Officials at the department were due to appear before Scopa last week to be grilled on the Auditor General’s report for the 2006/2007 financial year. The meeting was cancelled and will take place at a later date.

The department received a qualified report for the 2006/2007 financial year that found unauthorised expenditure of R3,5 milion was incurred during that financial year. According to the report a further R6 million of unauthorised expenditure was awaiting approval.

In his wide-ranging speech the monarch focused on various issues like crime, HIV/Aids, the role of Amakhosi and electricity.

He called on all the citizens of the province to be actively involved in the fight against crime, poverty and the spread of HIV/AIDS.

Zwelithini also paid tribute to the late Swami Sahajananda, of the Divine Life Society of South Africa who spearheaded upliftment projects, including building schools and clinics throughout KwaZulu-Natal.

The sitting was not incident-free. IFP Chief Whip Henry Combrinck landed in hot water for defying a legislature ruling by wearing his party colours.

In his response, Combrinck, who was dressed in a yellow shirt trimmed with IFP colours, accused ANC members of having started it.

Yesterday Mchunu said: "I go out and ask members of the public not to wear any party regalia and members of the legislature do it. This will be one of the most unbearable contradictions, let us not do it".

In a statement issued late yesterday, the Democratic Alliance lambasted Mchunu, saying he was the one who represented “unbearable contradictions”. The party said the Speaker had shown bias by not inviting leaders of other political parties to the opening ceremony.

Today Premier Ndebele will deliver his state of the province address.

bmbanjwa@witness.co.za

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